I am always looking for something beyond basics ….technique/design/composition/color/value to sharpen my painting inabilities. Guess I like challenges like I’m not the major challenge….make sense? If not keep painting and you will arrive on your own front porch.
While reading a watercolor book written by Claude Croney the word tangent jumped off the page lightening fast. I knew what it was but hadn’t grasp the broader meaning of that little word. Tangents are common mistakes usually overlooked because we don’t recognize their importance. I dug out some old paintings, those hidden in a drawer only family will find one day, and had a jaw dropping moment. The ‘tangent connection’ had not been dissected to it’s fullest in the beholders eye when these paintings were conceived. If you paint from photos I strongly suggest taking some extra time examining your references for the ‘tangent connection’.
What am I looking for…..two shapes sharing the same edge….bottom line. A row of trees sharing the same edge as a mountain range/a vertical fence pale married to the tree trunk behind it….are a few examples. All of these unexpected surprises need to be dealt with by overlapping /shrink/enlarge shapes or eliminating what is not necessary. Enjoy the photo for what it is…. a nice photo then create a great painting. Print the photo out on computer paper then circle all the hidden tangents before you began the drawing.
Below is a nice photo of a lady selling her wares. The photo was copied to my computer where it was enlarged and carefully analyzed. The very first thing is the figure it is in the center of the photo. I don’t have a problem with her being the bulls eye as long as there is good balance with the other shapes that make up the composition. Circles are given to each tangent that needs correction and an X on shapes that will be eliminated. When I am confident that the Easter egg hunt is over I proceed to sketch my subject which is the second image.
This is the photograph…nice color and interesting shapes…with several tangents to recognize and alter.
This is the quick sketch with a gray watercolor stick…on cold press #140 watercolor paper. The figure has been moved off center and because I like the red chairs they were included. The steps needed to follow through to eliminate angels that would detract. Pots of flowers were added behind the iron rail and the window added interest. Only one column was needed and behind the lady would give a contrast for the head. Although color choices were not changed values were more important.
This was the first wash of colors of reds/orange/blue/turquoise/quinacridone burnt orange. The colors mixed and mingled on the paper leaving soft edges for the negative shapes to be painted after the wash is dry.
The paper is dry and ready for the negative darker values in the background. There were various color changes to work with using a little imagination. Although the original drawing is followed…I don’t always stay in the lines if color presents a different shape. Pigment is more important than water because of the dark values that are required for hard edges. When I am satisfied with the overall shape connection calligraphy lines are added with a rigger brush. These lines declare or connect shapes.
It has been way to long since my last posting. Not because brushes and canvas were on stand by, electricity/water turned off or a studio melt down…well there was that one day. The current studio scene…painting discords overflow in the trash, stacks of maybe’s in the bin and a messy wet palette….no question someone has been working. Will someone identify themselves because help is needed… not more supplies. Like most artists, ‘most’ used loosely, it seems there is more to do in a day than hours permit. So thought I would share a quick demonstration born out of the chaos. Generally speaking a brush is wet everyday except when priority calls. The demonstration below is on a 11 x 14 stretched canvas. A quick response to a photograph in my files of many waiting to be painted. A yellow ocher watercolor stick was my choice for drawing.
watercolor stick sketch
My beginning is a sketch rather than a drawing. This gives me the freedom to change direction while laying in color…
Ultra Marine Blue/Raw Umber Violet/Cerulean Blue/Quinacridone Burnt Orange are the pigments used for the first washes. My attempt is to paint the value needed for the finished piece from the first wash of pigments. Reason being the first washes will lift from the canvas because the pigment remains on the surface. Paper absorbs pigment so glazing is effective.
Defining the subject
Halloween Orange/Andrew’s Turquoise/Naphthol Red are added to the palette to mix and mingle with the first pigments. I enjoy seeing the pigments engage conversation with their next door neighbors. At this point I am ready to stop and say ‘fini’ but the painting needs line.
Few dark marks for windows….lines to separate or connect…a quick touch of pure pigment and it’s done….or at least it is done for me.
Hope you enjoyed the journey…thanks for participating.
Workshop students often follow the instructors demonstration in class sharpening their technique/color/design/ and other elements to improve their talent and creativity. Recently, I was surprised again when a painting was posted online that looked familiar. My first thought was ‘when did I post that painting.’ Immediately it was one of those ‘what’ moments my painting was supporting another signature. It looked like mine at first glance but upon closer look a class copy became evident. The posted painting had been done in a class environment the drawing and color scheme were the same as my demonstration. Not only was it posted as original work by the artist displaying the painting, it had sold. This ah-ha moment is happening far to often and should be addressed. So..I am compelled to explain copy work again to those who don’t get it, don’t know it or think it doesn’t apply to them…..the ethics of paint by number with students in mind.
Students and this also applies to me….when you follow along with the instructors composition/design in a learning mode, this doesn’t give you the license to claim the work ‘your original’. An instructor has worked several weeks on a focused plan to share with you their method of painting. They are sharing their knowledge/experiments/and failures so you can grow and not fall into a pit of despair. Using your paint/brushes/paper and hands allows one option, to use the class project as a reference. The ‘paint along’ is graciously permitted by the instructor to make your day happy, eventful, excited while your role is put into practice what you have learned. The masterpiece you leave the class with is not your painting. The only original part of the painting is the labor of blood sweat and tears you produced while in class. Entering the painting in shows or selling it deprives you from your own creativity showing disregard for an instructor who has invested her time for you.
The two portraits below were done with my paint/brushes/ and hands in a workshop several years ago. They have remained in my flat file all this time because they were the concept of a good instructor. The photos/drawings during the workshop were furnished and the demonstration gave insight into the technique….it was a paint along. Being proud of the fact I could follow instructions…few people have seen them. Many years have passed and few would remember the workshop…I could enter them in a show frame them to sell and who would know. Me….I would know they were not my brain work. From the drawing to the final brush stroke was done by me but with little thought to the concept. Why would I want recognition for something I didn’t create with my paint/brushes/ and hands.
Recently I entered, Splashes of Red, a local watercolor show. The advertised theme was a clue for the requirement…..use red. Of course, red is probably my favorite color so the requirement started the wheels in motion. The next question on my mind was what to paint red…flower, barn or something unexpected. I chose the unexpected like many of the other entries.
What a refreshing sight to view everyone’s individual painting styles using red. As I strolled through the show it occurred to me painting with red is a challenge…who would think. Red is that brilliant color that springs from pink to crimson in a second and because it is mid value it must be handled with care. A red flower for instance….most load a brush with red pigment and precede to fill in the borders. The red saturated pigment is established, from the beginning, with little thought to other values in the painting. This also applies using other mid value pigments such as Cobalt Blue. Double or triple loading a brush resolves the issue of one value shape or single color hue. Everyone develops their own technique when applying color….therefore a style is born.
Below is a flower and house illustrating the flat red shapes in comparison to the double loaded shapes. The solid red flower and house are committed to a 5 value from the start…where as the double loaded flower and house grade from a 5 to 3 value leaving more value options. When mid value colors are applied in their concentrated state darker values are applied to soon….6 value to black.
Below is an illustration of double loading a brush with two different hues….notice the nice transition of dark to light/tone to tone…..
A color study always precedes my attempt for finished works. This short video shows the three step process. It’s on a quarter sheet 11 x 15 of A’rches 140# rough paper. The pigments are mostly transparent watercolor with an occasional opaque for body. Enjoy….
The music in the video is one of my favorite CD’s while painting….. flamenco guitar by Armik’s…
This was a fun landscape because local color was disregarded and some adjustment of the photograph. It was a struggle keeping a figure from this composition. The painting was drawn with a brush loaded with yellow ocher which keeps the shapes suggestive. Halloween orange, Andrews turquoise, and Carmine where the colors of choice. A light value wash was first applied preserving some white paper. The wash was dried before the next mid values where established….negative and positive strokes. Before the final dark’s the paper is totally dry. Dark values at strategic points and calligraphy are the finishing touches to a delightful day.
This was my demonstration last week in Lamesa…with a symmetrical format. Symmetrical paintings are all about balance…formal or informal. This is an informal motif because it is not a mirrors image. Balance is the key in all paintings but it’s most important with a symmetrical format. Asymmetrical is much easier for me because I like ‘stuff’ in my paintings. Most of us recognize when our paintings list to the left or right like a boat about to capsize. Adjusting shapes within the composition can be hazardous to your composition. Balancing the painting as a whole is the goal. Shapes are made larger, smaller, louder, quieter, softer disregarding the reference you are working from….hope you enjoy Paint Bucket Daises…
Is anyone reading this like me…..take a camera or Ipad….and forget to take the photos of your journey. Well this is the second time I have failed to use the resources available. Those attending came to paint and at the end of the day produced some great figures. If those taking the class would send a photo or photos, some did more than one, I will post them.
I draw figures using the same techniques as other subjects. Starting with a proportional lose drawing with little detail is my approach to any subject including figures. When I am satisfied with the placement of the figure and the proportions I began with light value washes of warm and cool colors….painting around the figure here and there but also using this wash over the figure. Cutting across the figure anchors it to the background and splatters in the foreground are much more interesting than cuffed pants and shoes.. When the wash is dry the figure gets attention with color and any detail it needs to come alive. Waiting for the colors to dry I began with background and foreground….letting the previous wash suggest the setting. Dark dry brush marks finish the painting….lot of fun and for me a challenge…
Thank you Big Spring Art Association for inviting me to share my passion. Special thanks for Jean Money and her efficient organizational skills keeping me on track. Also thanks to Lane Bond for making me feel at home. The evening was perfect visiting with old friends and meeting new artist with like minds. The below image is the demonstration painted for the association. It is an interior low key painting taken in an ice cream shop or parlor if you happen to be my age.