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Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Canaan LDS Chapel / A Watercolor Brick Tutorial

Hi Folks!

Someone asked if I could paint for them our church - the New Canaan, Connecticut LDS Chapel, so they could give the painting as a gift to a former bishop who served at the church. This is special to me because he used to be my bishop too when I was in High School, so I tried to put my love into this painting. This chapel is the same one I was blessed in as a newborn, ran laps around when I was a child after church, decided to be baptized when I was 8, met my future husband there for the first time when I was 14 at a youth conference, and now here I am as a grown woman still attending this same chapel with my own family. What a nice experience to paint a building filled with memories!


Thought those of you who still go to this chapel, or have attended, might like to see pictures of the past just for fun. ^_^

This is the chapel in 1985 when I was blessed as a baby. Those are my late great grandparents, and my aunt and uncle.

This is the primary room when I was 8 years old and going to be baptized in 1992. That's my dad and my younger brother.

I'll be the first to admit it: I don't think that I'm the most gifted when it comes to rendering architecture. That being said though, for a building that is covered with bricks, I think this one turned out better than I had hoped! There was a while there where I honestly got nervous because I have not had much experience with the glazing technique (where you put down one color, then when it dries you put on a second different color on top, creating a whole new color), but when I started laying down the bricks, the chapel suddenly began to take its true shape!

 This was my first glaze, with purples, pinks, reds and yellows, which would go well for the final color on top....you can also understand how I might have been a little nervous?



the final product!

If you look close, you can see that there's a light on in one of the windows. That is the bishop's office, and since this is going to a former bishop, it gives a little nod to him and all the hard work that he had done in serving the people in our area. A bishop of our church is a calling given to an individual who serves around 5 years. This is a completely volunteer position, and one that the person serving as bishop does entirely out of love for his fellow man.

Our bishop was always there for us.
A few of you may want to know "How did you paint all those bricks??" I didn't know at first either! I am a studious artist and wanted to get it right, so I scoured my watercolor books and the internet for information on painting buildings, glazing, and specifically painting bricks in watercolor. After a while I realized there really isn't one "right way" to do it. Some people paint every brick and some only paint a few for people to get the idea. Some put the color of the brick on top and that's it, and some put the shadows in each brick and the mortar in between. In my mind I told myself that I am NOT going to paint every brick, I am going to try to paint loose, easy and suggestive this time...But I think because I am such a detailed person, I was unable to paint loose and ended up painting all those bricks anyway. It's ok though, it looks great.

This next part is just for all the watercolor nerds...Because there really isn't that much on the internet about laying down bricks in watercolor, I'd like to give you my step by step watercolor brick tutorial, based on my findings and experimentation!

STEP 1: after you have your glazed dry colors, take your brush and dip it in water, then lift the paint out line by line to create the mortar. This will be a guideline for how big you want your bricks to look.

STEP 2: Next, lift out more paint to create the vertical lines to space out how long you want each brick to be.

STEP 3: mix three different colors of bricks before hand. I created (1) a purple using burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, quinocridone rose, cadmium red and paynes grey. (2) a reddish brown which was cadmium red, burnt sienna, and a little bit of paynes grey.  and (3) a yellow which was yellow ochre and burnt sienna. Lay your first color down in random places. This was the purple:

STEP 4: lay your second color down, this was the reddish brown:

STEP 5: lay your last color down. You can also leave some spaces of the original glazed background to make a fourth color, like I did:

 TADA! Bricks! Looks pretty good! The cool thing is I used those same 3 colors throughout the entire building, but the colors look different because of the different color glazes I had put on underneath the bricks, making some look darker than others.

To end, this has been a fun painting adventure for me, and I am grateful to have been asked to paint this particular commission. I love church!!

Laura D'Onofrio

3 comments:

Jamie Handy said...

It turned out so beautiful!

exotik1 said...

Hi, I found your blog looking for how to paint bricks, you did a wonderful job! FOr a total beginner who dosent know how to lift off color, and whose using watercolour pencil, how could I replicate this please? i like how eack brick looks individual and that they vary in colour. Thank you,
Farida :)
fresh.roti@gmail.com

Laura D'Onofrio said...

Hello,

I'm glad that you enjoyed the tutorial! I'm sorry I don't have any experience with watercolor pencil...Lifting off watercolors is simple though, you lay your color down on the paper, then when it dries you can dip your paintbrush in water and then gently rub a line with the water over the color. Then take your paper towel and dab it on top of the wet water to absorb it, and some of the watercolor paint will come off of the paper. You need to be careful what color you choose, because some colors are more staining, and cannot be lifted off. This is a good website to which watercolors are transparent (easy to lift) and which are opaque (hard to lift off). http://venice-kichura.suite101.com/how-to-choose-watercolor-paints-a145002

Thanks!
-Laura