Friday, March 3, 2017

Everyone's Homework 3/2/17 It's About The Paint!

Laurie Wigham

This luscious landscape could only have been made by letting go of the specifics of the scene and generalizing about shapes,  colors, values and edges. What is gained by taking liberties with accuracy is the freedom to devote all one's attention to the beauty of the paint. 
It's a very good trade. We can no longer count the trees in the green shapes, but we all still recognize this as a landscape, and the pleasure of seeing the flow and the transparency of the medium is worth much more than an inventory of its contents.
Perhaps the most important benefit of the trade comes from not having to correct what the paint does on its own. Laurie Wigwam never had to go back and fix anything in this painting, which accounts for the overall feeling of certainty.

Imagine this picture without the trunks and shadows. The blue, yellow and green shapes would look almost arbitrary. The guidelines by which you might paint the first couple of layers would be very broad. When you can see in advance how well the dark mid-value shadows and the dark trunks would give meaning to the  yellow and green masses of foliage,  your brushwork in the earlier stages is liberated from the need to be careful. All of your attention could be devoted to displaying the gorgeous fluidity of watercolor. That's what brought us here in the first place, after all. 

Accuracy is overrated.
In the photo above, the juxtaposition of the bush and rock and tiny island is unfortunate. I want to move the island so it doesn't appear to touch the tree and the rock. If it didn't occur to me that I have permission to do that I would get hung up trying to duplicate something that is only going to create ambiguity on the page. The need to be careful would also slow down my brushwork, leading to a different feeling in that area. 
Remember, it's the spirit of the scene that we are interpreting, not the letter.  I would rather have a juicy, spirited painting with generalized content than an dry accounting of the scene with everything in its place.

Here are a couple more images that are full of opportunities to let the paint have its way. Often holding on to a limited kind of accuracy makes it easier to relax your hold on everything else. To give that a try, I recommend getting the values right rather than the drawing. Have fun

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