October 3-10, 2015, will find me teaching a week-long workshop in Sketchbook Journaling at Fattoria Bacio, in Certaldo, Italy. We'll be painting, touring, feasting, relaxing and having a great old time together. I thought you might enjoy a sneak preview of one of the painting tutorials I'll be sharing with my students in Tuscany.
So, let's pretend for a moment that you're sitting on a sun-drenched hillside, straw hat on your head, sketchbook in your lap, pencil poised, ready to sketch a centuries-old villa with with a red tile roof.
How should you begin? Well, here are some ideas.....
Painting Terracotta Tile Roofs
Red-orange terracotta roofs are a distinctive part of the Tuscan landscape, as typical as rolling hills, vineyards and cypress trees. They add a bright spot of color to a painting, and often may be indicated with nothing more than a splash of burnt sienna.
|Title page from my 2013 Italy journal, 10" x 7", ink & watercolor|
The rusty red color sings in a landscape filled with its complement, green.
|7" x 2.5", ink & watercolor in Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook|
When sketching distant views that include clay tile roofs, I paint them very simply...
|5" x 2", part of a larger gridded page; ink & watercolor in a Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook|
|3.5" x 7", ink & watercolor in a Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook|
For a mid-range view, like the sketch below, a bit more detail can be added to suggest the dips between vertical rows of tiles. A few quick brush strokes serve to indicate individual tiles here and there. There's no need to paint them all.
|10" x 7", ink & watercolor in a Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook|
The only time you'll need to worry about including more details is when you're focusing in on a roof in the foreground of your sketch. In that case, here's an approach you may want to try:
- Study the roof and note any irregularities - a broken or crooked tile, an area that's moss-covered, etc. You'll want to include those unique details in your sketch. You're not just painting any roof, you're painting this particular roof.
- Do a preliminary sketch in pencil. This is your chance to figure out the angles and spacing of the roof tiles.
- Ink the sketch, if desired. (I used a Pigma Micron 01 black pen for the sketch shown here.) There's no need to trace over every pencil line or to draw every tile.
- Erase unwanted pencil lines.
- Paint a variegated wash for your base color, which will be the lightest tones on the tiles.
- Use warm colors such as Winsor Orange, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold, or Burnt Umber.
- Touch the lower edge of the wash with a wet brush and allow some of the color to bleed onto the wall below. This will help to unify the painting.
- Add a pale warm tone to the wall, if desired.
- Add varying mid-tones to areas of the roof or to individual tiles.
- Paint a variegated base wash of greys, browns, and yellow ochre for the building's stone walls.
- Begin painting shadows. I used several different color combinations for shadows, like Ultramarine Blue + Rose Violet (or Quinacridone Violet) + Burnt Umber (or Burnt Sienna or Quinacridone Gold)
- Add shadows between vertical rows of tiles.
- Add shadows at the base of individual tiles. Vary the color and darkness of the shadows, so the tiles don't look too uniform.
- Paint the shadow under the bottom row of tiles.
- Paint any support boards or eaves that show under the bottom row of tiles. (In the photo I worked from, a horizontal support board showed below the last row of tiles.)
- Begin painting the stone wall, indicating mortar joints.
- Use a natural sponge to dab on some color to indicate texture on the wall.
- Add any other detailing to the wall. (My photo showed bricks on the corners of the building, half-covered with mortar, so I painted them at this point.)
- Paint the darkest shadows on the tile roof.
- Add a touch of very dark shadow color under the bottom row of tiles.
- Paint the shaded side of the building with a purple-grey wash. (Ultramarine Blue + Quinacridone Violet or Rose Violet + a touch of Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber to tone it down)
- Use the same purple-grey to paint the shadow under the roof overhang. Run a clean, damp brush along the lower edge of the shadow to soften the line.
- Add any final spots of color to the painting.
- Lift highlights on the roof tiles with a damp brush, if needed.
Here are some options for mixing convincing colors for terracotta roof tiles.
For more information about my all-inclusive workshop at Fattoria Bacio, October 3-10, 2015, click on the "Italy Workshop" tab above, or visit the Artravelitaly website. Let's paint Tuscany together!