Monday, February 9, 2015

Sneak Preview! Step-by-Step Watercolor Painting: Terracotta Tile Roofs

In just a few short months I'll be going back to Italy! I can't wait to see the Tuscan hills again and enjoy the endless delights of fresh, delicious Italian food. And the gelato...don't even get me started on that!

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:

STEP 1
  • 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.

STEP 2
  • 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.


STEP 3
  • 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.


STEP 4
  • 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.)


STEP 5
  • 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.)


STEP 6
  •  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.


BONUS TIP:
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!



8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mini tutorial. Wish I could take some of the trips you teachers offer but its out of the question at least for now. Enjoy your trip and teaching session!

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  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I would love to come to Italy with you, but my husband and I planned to go to France at the end of Sept. Maybe next year.

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    1. Hey, I have an idea...why don't you combine your trip with a visit to Tuscany and join my October 3-10 workshop at Fattoria Bacio, near Florence? Wouldn't that be fun? We even have activities planned for non-painting partners.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this. Always enjoy your painting and tips.

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  4. Leslie, Your BlogSpot is wonderful - your work is beautiful. You are so gifted, not only in what you create, but also in your ability to instruct and guide.

    RETA@ http://evenhaazer.blogspot.com

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  5. I've been busy and haven't had much time to visit your blog in a while. How exciting to be anticipating a trip to Italy. I may be heading back there in September. Love the steps to painting the roof, and I really enjoyed seeing your post about your trip to Florida.

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