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Dan Mondloch Demo – CMW’s April 10, 2023 Meeting

On Monday evening, April 10th at CMW’s monthly membership meeting, Dan Mondloch, well known local watercolor artist and member of CMW, presented a demo for our group.

This is the reference photo he used for his painting:

Before starting to paint, Dan explained that he uses his computer to view different versions of the photo. He heightens the saturation, blurs, uses black and white images, etc.. He wants to see the biggest shapes possible. He finds this a great tool especially when painting landscapes. He finds subtle variations and it helps with evaluation and scale. With this technique he can simplify his painting into 3 values: light, med, and dark. It also helps in keeping to minimal washes, 1-3 layers, more layers you tend to get mud. Dan indicated this step can be done digitally or actually by painting a value study. He divides his paper into quadrants and uses each section for value studies.

First step to a value study is to determine what is white, what is cool and what is warm. Second, determine mid value, and dark (shadow areas). The last to be painted with a rigger brush are the details.

The challenges he sees in this particular painting are: graded washes, cattails, sun gradation, white paper to save—sun white.

He starts with a large brush, wets paper where he wants paint. Dan doesn’t use masking. He paints in the base color for the clouds.

His painting is at a slant with a 3 to 4 inch incline.

He will use a fine mist sprayer to reactivate the whole surface. ($15 he has supply or you can get on Amazon)

He uses Paynes Grey mixed with ultramarine to neutralize. Wet paper – dry brush, use paper towel to dry brush first. Push down on brush, soak up moisture and leave the paint.

He tries to keep his cool and warm colors separate on his pallet.

Dan said regarding his paintings, “It never works out as you imagine it. So plan for that!”

Dan wasn’t particularly happy with his sky to begin with. He made a point of telling us to always leave it as is…fresh. Painters are so tempted to touch their brush to fix it and if touched it easily makes an unwanted blossom.

He did soften the edge on top with clean water on his brush. He said to set up the following layer with the temperature you need in this wash. If you do get blossoms, own it, many well known artists have them and work with them…

First wash is light values. He used Naples Yellow for the center of the road.

He kept saying, “I will not go back into the sky.” Cut our losses, embrace it and move on (We all could relate :-D ).

Looking at any reference photo, say where does the white paper go – set it into the sweet spot of the paper.

Train yourself to identify what you are looking at: cool/warm or light, mid, dark values.

Dan painted a value study (quadrant) – mid value study. In one quadrant he demoed an even gradient wash. After painting part of the wash, hold your loaded brush straight up and barely touch the paper on the painting wash area. This will create a bead at the bottom of the wash…add water and make a gradient wash with your clean brush by bringing it to the bottom of the page.

2nd Wash – Mid Values: Dan softened edges. Using clean water, start a couple strokes out and then touch the edge—it will soften into fog.

On dry paper, wet brush=harder edges. Paynes Grey is a cool color.

Question asked regarding Dan’s color pallet—what’s his darkest dark. He said he used to use Paynes Grey-easy black-but he felt it was noticeable. Now he tries to mix it to push it to warm or cool.

He then began painting the trees. Darker at the bottom-gradient to mid on top. The road he dry brushed to add texture. Darks on left he dry brushed (trees – calligraphy or scribbling he called his brush strokes). He tried to keep away from Paynes Grey by itself, adding color and mixing the paint quite thick. A painting doesn’t pop until the darks are in. Dan says to be patient.

For the road he used thick paint and pushed down and then feathered out at the end. He felt the right-hand side was greener. The cattails were warmer and used more red. To achieve gradation, he softened the bottom hard edge with the clean brush. He added a cooler green behind the cattails. He used the side of a dry brush to paint trees. He added a little red on top of the trees closer to the sun.

He added the telephone poles using a rigger brush. Turn your paper sideways and pull your brush left to right to make one smooth line. For the telephone wires use a light color, dry brush, swoop it—don’t want thick and black lines—want rough texture.

The finishing touches – made a white wash by mixing orange and yellow-supper thick (cad red, yellow and white gouache). He made strokes of sunlight and highlighted horizontal surfaces and some spots at the edge of the road.

Here is Dan’s completed painting – he met the challenge of keeping the whites, the fog, the gradation washes, cattails, and telephone poles plus wires. Well done Dan!

Thank you so much Dan for an engaging and informative demo! Many of the attendees present at the meeting are taking an art class from Dan on Wednesdays at Art in Motion in Holdingford. There will be a summer break and classes should be resuming next fall. Dan is a long-time member of Central MN Watercolorists.

Check out Dan’s website page:

Notes submitted by Paula Tift, CMW Social Media Coordinator

Pictures taken by Sandra Theis, CMW Vice President

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