Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snow Shadows


I chose to paint from this photo because I liked the composition, the way the dark water leads the eye back to the trees. To plan the painting, I first opened the photo in Photoshop and "posterized" it with 4 levels of value. There wasn't enough light at the back of the creek, so I added some more. Then I did a 3-value, rough sketch in my sketchbook. Finally, I started the actual painting by doing a 3-color wash all over, keeping the blue at the sky and the yellow where I knew the white would be. Then I drew and painted the scene after the wash dried. By then I knew the scene very well so it was easy to paint.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Composition Class - 2

More notes, not necessarily in a coherent order.

• the center of interest is often the place with the most contrast

• When you have a painting with strong direction, it's important to have something there when the eye arrives. For an example of a painting that has nothing, or not much, there when you arrive, look at Hopper's "Chair Car." 

• when you have a painting with a strong directional movement, remember to put in a "stop" so the eye doesn't go off the paper. 

• a basic shape, repeated throughout the painting, sets up a rhythm

• It's easier to resolve the composition of a painting if you plan it before you start, using small value sketches and possibly small color sketches. That way you can evaluate variations without investing a lot of time, paint and paper.

• what goes into a painting, among other things:
the shapes
the negative areas
the paint itself: the application, stroke direction, random color spots

• if you have one odd shape/color, repeat it somehow.

• within a particular value in a painting you have lots of leeway: texture, color, objects, etc

• powerful paintings often use lots of dark

• horizontal lines are generally calm, vertical are stable and sturdy, and diagonal are active

• to make an element stand out (be the center of interest)
value contrast
color intensity (bright rather than dull)
hard edges
complementary colors around it

Composition Class - 1

The title of the class is "Composing the Page." I seem to be taking sort of random notes which I'll transcribe here without trying to put them in much of an order. There's a lot of discussion which is not in my notes, so some of these statements may sound more arbitrary than they did in class.

• Composition helps the artist know what to say with a painting or reinforces what the artist is trying to say.
• When the elements of a painting don't touch the edge anywhere, they're not really connected with the world. They make a doughnut (or the hole therein).
Dominance is one aspect of the painting standing out with the other aspects supporting.
• elements in a painting need to help move the eye around
• when a composition works, the negative space works as hard as the positive elements.
eccentricities are elements in a painting which are not repeated (but repetition needs to have variation, too)
• when looking at a work, among other things, ask if it feels complete. Do I say "ehh" or "mmm"?
In this first class we were given sheets of printer paper plus some black paper and some brown, kraft paper and asked to arrange pieces of them in a pleasing way. For homework, we were to take one of the many resulting compositions, our own or anothers', and reproduce them varying the color schemes. My favorite of these compositions (not done by me!) is here, along with one of the possible 6 variations. This was done, roughly, my me on the computer from a tiny, rough sketch in my notes, so it's not really like the original but it will give an idea.

Friday, January 4, 2008

" . . . And This is My Oldest Grandchild."

I haven't done a watercolor in ages and I don't aspire to be a portrait painter and I would love to have suggestions for improvement. The photo I was working from was taken with a flash which doesn't make for good shadows, so I tried to change the lighting a bit which added to the challenge of painting this. I used a grid to make the drawing.