Sunday, March 11, 2018


watercolor with charcoal accents

After spending almost 3 weeks studying & practicing both watercolor and charcoal techniques,
the students are required to put together both in a subject of their choosing.
Probably the most difficult aspect of watercolor is to keep the medium transparent.
And the other challenge is how much charcoal to use with it
Do I draw it in or shade it in or both?
Do I put it under the watercolor or overtop?
We experiment with all the above before starting the "real" piece.
And it's also nice to leave a bit of the white paper showing as well,
I call these sparkles.
Let's see the lovely results.

I adored the subject that senior Deborah Harris picked.
And her light touch with the watercolor is just right with tiny touches of charcoal.

And isn't this next one a cutie patootie with the little pilot in his box aeroplane?
Notice how senior Melissa Ongko got the cool texture on the plane's wings?
That's done by dropping clear water into the pigment before it dries on the paper.
And what a wonderful cloudy sky she has put in as well.

And I so wish I'd have focused this landscape a bit better with my camera.
This gorgeous work was created by senior Lauren Kennedy.
Look at how realistic that sky looks!
And the water (which is so difficult to pull off) looks fantastic as well!

One of the most difficult ways to work in watercolor was pulled off by clever senior Cathy Huang. 
The difficulty comes into play 
when having to layer in each darker value after the previous lighter one dries,
and making it look natural.
Cath did it with ease in this very sweet composition with the child reading to the dragon.

And I have no idea where senior Helen Park came up with the western theme above,
but it so much fun
and so different then everyone else.
And she wasn't afraid to lay down the charcoal over top the watercolor to put in her cast shadows.
Way to go Helen!

Here we have a combo. use of the charcoal over the watercolor.
Senior Jocelyn Chou has drawn with the charcoal to outline & emphasize the watercolor edges,
but she has also used it for the trees cast shadows in a cross hatching style.
Love the blue-violet with the green,
it compliments the fox so nicely.

One of my personal favorites was done here by junior Mary Kim.
It's an incredibly complex composition.
Love all the insects that are crawling and landing about.
I'm also really enjoying the variety of line thicknesses she is using 
with the edge of the charcoal pencil.
Such a playful, well thought out piece with so much for the eye to enjoy.

Now look at the fabulous texture junior Julie Guan is getting with her charcoal 
on the tummies of the penguins.
Almost looks like she's drawing tiny circles.
Is she?? 
Also note the presence of ice within the fore and backdrop ground.
Those are large pieces of salt that were dropped into the wet pigment on the paper 
and brushed off when the paint dried.
Gives a real feel for snow crystals.

And everyone loved this beauty that junior Tiffany Chen created.
We were all so impressed with how she got the light shining thru the water.
I'm going to have to go back and ask how she did that.
Can you find the two different uses of charcoal in this piece?
Some are linear edges in various thicknesses 
and some of the dolphins underbellies are lightly shaded in cast shadow.

I believe junior Varisha Azmi used a pix of a child she had photographed 
while visiting relatives in India for her subject.
Very lovely piece Varisha,
and great gutsy use of color and charcoal shading.

And I save the best for last.
This one was done by none other then junior Sarah Oh.
Of course!
We have seen so much of her  2 and 3-D artwork this year.
I just love it when my art majors are able to fit in at least 2-3 classes with me their senior year.
What makes this piece so important is first of all the subject matter.
Sarah's signature style is to incorporate fish and animals into each of her pieces.
But in this one it's the wise old man I adore
and the fish surrounding him seem to be telling us a story.
She has used several transparent layers for all the value ranges,
interesting color mixtures and schemes, 
paid great attention to details, 
& has done a lot of cast shadow work with the charcoal.
This is well beyond high school level work and belongs in a gallery setting 
with a wonderful frame around it
(not sitting buried on your mother's desk Sarah!!!).
Hint, hint.

By the way,
a big congrats to Sarah and Tiffany.
They both just found out they were accepted into the prestigious 
Art Center College of Design in Pasadena,
one of the premier Art Colleges in the nation.
Rarely do they admit kids right out of high school.
Both girls will be in a highly competitive atmosphere with much older adults.
You have to be extra talented to be inviteded with an incredible portfolio
which both girls had.
We are all so happy and proud of you both!


  1. These are all delightful in their own way, but Sarah's piece absolutely blew me away. There is such beauty in that timeless face, so lovingly rendered.

    Congratulations to Sarah and Tiffany, and to their amazing teacher, for their admission to the Art Center College of Design.

    1. Thank you from all of us Liz, the girls loved your comment!