Saturday, November 10, 2018

Homework for all 11/9/18

The last week of class the homework is always up to you.
Work on some aspect of your practice that needs strengthening, or something that delights you. please bring some work to put up on the wall. Spectacular failures are welcome, if you're feeling brave enough.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Everybody's Homework 11/2/18 Composition

It was fun watching everyone in class asserting their opinions about changes in composition. Clearly we all have an archive of examples of what works and what doesn't, and a tool kit for putting together solutions.

Here are some images that might benefit from adjustment. Some require removing portions of the composition. Others want the shapes to be moved around, or for there to be fewer shapes, overall.

Vertical or horizontal?

That cloud!?

Off balance? Need permission to move something?  

Look at the relationship between the image and the frame. Also, where's the horizon?

If you wanted to break the symmetry of this image, should you add something or take something away? What about moving something?

What a mess!

Subtle changes...

Making notes as you consider these flawed compositions will help us share thoughts during our discussion in class.
You might want to try out any changes you come up with by making small pencil or pen thumbnail sketches. If you do, please bring them along to show your process. 
Make a simple painted version of one or two of these after you decide what you want to change.
Have fun

Friday, October 26, 2018

Jill McElmurry

While we're still on the subject of symbolic realism, the artist I've been searching for has emerged, Jill McElmurry. I couldn't get the spelling right till today. Here's some of her wonderful work:

Hard edges, shape first, pattern rather than texture, limited palette. George Post would have been delighted. I wonder if they ever met.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Intermediate Watercolor 10/24/18 The Easy Way

Photo by Sally Hayman

This market scene resolves nicely into just a few shapes. There's a strip of dark along the top (the awning), with a strip of middle value rectangles (the doors) below that. Then there's a strip of dark below that (the shadow), and a strip of light below the dark (the fruit). Finally, there's a triangle along the bottom made of a mix of all three values. Five shapes.

It would be nice if you could paint everything light, then put the middle values on top of the light and the darks on top of the lights and the middles. Can you see a way to do that? 

Imagine wetting the paper first, then blocking in lights everywhere. The fruit could be a cloud of light yellow and red. It wouldn't matter if it bled a little into the triangular shape below, since the strong darks in that area will give sharp definition later to the bottom edge of the fruit. And it would be good if the red and yellow bled into the shadow area, since there are fruits in the shadow area, too. 

The strip of middle value doors could all be painted a color like the warm neutral you can see right behind the post in the center. I'd put some other neutralized middle value colors in while that wash is still wet. You can run those middle values right up to the top of the page. Later, you could add some slightly darker verticals in that area to show that there are various rectangular doors. Soft edges or hard? I think it could be either or both. I wouldn't make them as dark as the shadow section that comes last. That would make the background come forward. The dark awning along the top, if you decide to include it, could go down right on top of the middle values after they're dry.

Finally, the big shadow. Use your practice paper to get the value dark enough so you don't have to go back over the shadow again. If the fruits don't show through the shadow glaze well enough, add some red, yellow and green into the shadow while it's still wet. Make sure the paint on your brush is pretty thick for this job to prevent blooms, but If a bloom occurs, leave it.

How much information does the painting need before it's done? That's up to the individual painter, of course, but be respectful of your alter ego, the viewer. Leave a little for them to interpret. 

It may be a good idea to read this again before launching into a painting. A monochrome value study would also be very helpful.

 Here are a couple more images that resolve well into light, middle and dark layers to choose from.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Beginning Watercolor Persimmons made of paint 10/24/18

So far, in class we've done more work from photos than from life. This week's homework exercise puts your understanding of seeing in layers to work on a simple 3-D object, like an apple,

Image result for gerhard richter watercolor
Gerhard Richter

or a chalice.

Image result for lars lerin

Lars Lerin
(This is a watercolor, by the way)

Look around the house for an object that invites a watercolor interpretation. I find the refrigerator to be a great source of candidates. A bottle of hot sauce, a jar of mayonnaise, maybe a rutabaga. A stovetop tea kettle? Try setting up a single strong light source so the light and shadow shapes are easy to identify. 

Does your object resolve nicely into just a few layers? If so, get started with a monochrome value study. Keep it very simple. No need to make the first attempts into handsome paintings. The idea is to begin seeing a series of layers; light, middle, dark.

Once you've seen your way through the single color study, make a color version with a limited palette, just one each of the primaries. In fact, make 3 or 4 versions, all increasingly simple. 

Eventually, you will begin to recognize what needs to be there for the subject to have some presence. Adding the cast shadow will be very helpful. Make that simple, too, of course. Fussing with the shadow will do more harm than good.

After you've painted 5 or 6 of your rutabagas, or persimmons, the translation into "watercolor" will be realized. When you feel confident that you understand the subject in terms of layers of washes and strokes, put the model away, where you can't see it. Now paint a version or two by heart.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Beginning Watercolor 10/19/18 Thinking a couple of layers ahead

In class, we've been working on thinking and seeing in layers. Understanding a scene or an image as a sequence of layers allows us to foresee how what we're doing now will affect what comes later, and vice-versa

Eugen Chisnicean

Imagine what this painting looked like when only the first layer was there. There was a sky, but not any background buildings. The whole street and sidewalk level was wet stripes of warm red, cool blue and neutral grey, with no identifiable subject matter. The light blue was destined to become awnings, cars, and figures, but not till the  first layer dried and the middle value shapes and the dark layer were applied. 

Shari Blaukopf

Shari Blaukopf had two or more layers in place before her paper dried. The sky, for example, started as an overall light grey wash. The artist then put in the red where the trees were going to be, and the darker grey just below. It wasn't until the darker middle value shapes were applied (the trunks and branches) that hard edges began to show up. The final layer comprises just a handful of small dark strokes on dry paper.

Here are a few images that can be kept soft-edged for a layer or two. See how long you can wait before you start giving definition to the lights and light middle values.
Have fun!

Intermediate Watercolor 10/19/18 Symbolic Realism

 "Symbolic Realism" is a good name for paintings that feature images that are more about what we know or feel than what we see.

George Post

Anyone would immediately recognize these shapes as trees, even though they do not describe what the trees look like. They are more about trees in general than specific trees. The artist has created symbols that rely at least as much on shared knowledge of the subject as they do on careful observation.

Unfortunately, the term "Symbolic Realism" has already been attached to another type of image, altogether.

Frida Khalo

So, I'm looking for another term for the kind of symbolism I mean. Any ideas? For now, let's see if looking at a bunch of images can get us all on the same track. Gracias y adios, Frida. 

George Post
The array of rectangles in the background adds up to the feeling of overlooking a city. Post has observed what the buildings have in common more than how they are different.

George Post

Sterling Edwards

The simplicity of treatment Edwards displays comes from finding the features that the pueblo buildings have in common.

 George Post

Sterling Edwards
The halo effect surrounding the rocks is more about the feeling of being there than what you might actually see

Tom Hoffmann

Tom Hoffmann

In all of these paintings the subject matter has been distilled down to the essential information. Most of what has been removed was optional. If you were painting from life, you could observe what the background looks like when you focus on the foreground.

Here are some photos that invite refinement. See what you can do.

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