You've all heard of artists who make studies and sketches in the field and then retreat to the studio to use them as the basis for a proper painting. Having just spent 2 1/2 hours painting the figure from life, I hope you saved at least one of the sketches you made. It can serve as the inspiration for a more refined version of the pose.
First, put away the timer. You can take all the time you need, making sure you're pleased with the proportions, the colors, and the values. You can introduce more soft edges, or fewer, as the case may be. You can try out some surprising colors, either in another study or directly on the new painting.
By all means use good paper for this project, and remember, it is not imperative that you get the drawing exactly right on the first layer. there will be later opportunities to adjust and improve the shapes.
Here are some colorful paintings gathered from the web to give you some ideas. I'm not suggesting that you copy any of these. Use your work from Wednesday for the pose, and the images here as encouragement to take some risks. Have fun
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Thursday, November 2, 2017
This exercise is meant to help prevent over-painting your watercolors. The premise is that many subjects don't require as much definition as we assume. It involves having faith in the viewer's willingness to meet you halfway.
Let's consider the buildings in the background of this scene. If you assume that your job is to keep them separated so that the viewer can tell how many there are, then it makes sense to identify how they are different from each other and make sure those differences are apparent. Three buildings, three shapes. But is that actually necessary? You could look, instead, for how they are the same, and treat them as a single dark shape. Depending on the job that those buildings are meant to do in the painting, it may be advantageous to have fewer shapes, overall. It almost always is.
When I squint at the scene the buildings merge into one shape. As such, they effectively form a background for the lighter cars and still display their idiosyncratic profiles. If you painted them as a continuous dark grey form you could add further information by increments and stop well before overdoing the description. Err on the side of too little information. You can always add more.
How many bales of hay are there in this scene? How many shapes does the haystack comprise? These are two different questions which can have two quite different answers.
Whose job is it to count the bales? The artist's? The viewer's? Nobody's?
You can look for whatever it is that separates the individual balls from each other, or you can start by looking at what they all have in common. Make the most general statement first, then the next most general, and so on, until the story has been told to your satisfaction.
Try painting the overall shape of the stack the color and value of the sunlit areas. Is that enough? If not, the next most general statement would be the shadow shape, which could be painted right over the local color. Is that enough? If not, what next?
How many shapes are there in this scene?
Using these photos or the ones you brought from class, please experiment with grouping adjacent shapes to simplify the composition. Ask yourself how you know when you have separated them sufficiently.
Also, please bring a pile of cheap paper for the quick poses at the beginning of the model session next week.
Letting the illusion go
Many of the painters I know see their work evolving from the realistic toward the non-representational. Moving to abstraction involves a shift in emphasis from creating a convincing illusion to an acknowledgement of the fact that there really is no space, no light, and no substance there, only paint on paper. That paint, the form of it, becomes the subject of the painting.
Ironically, the further one goes on the continuum from “realism” toward abstraction, the more the emphasis shifts toward what is really there. In this way, abstraction is more real than realism. It can be revealing to consider the titles artist give to their work in this regard.
This very dramatic image by Emil Nolde is simply called, Mountainscape. It may have been painted from life, or it may have been entirely invented. We can't tell from the title.
Most likely, something other than the location of this scene was most important to the painter. Try covering the mountains and just looking at the sky. Now do the opposite. Which would you say is given emphasis, form or content?
Lake Whatever Tom Hoffmann
This scene, which was imagined rather than observed, does not need to be identified. The space has been allowed to flatten to the extent that all the component shapes are assembled right on the picture plane. As far as a convincing feeling of space or light in a particular place is concerned, whatever!
Linda Hoffman Snodgrass Dreaming of Iridescent Clouds
To what extent has the artist let go of the illusion of light or space in this painting? The word “Dreaming” in the title suggests that she is not attempting to describe a particular place. In fact, she could be dreaming of a river, mountains, or activity on a microscope slide. The important thing is that the forms are not identifiable. We do not need to know what they are to enjoy them.
Using the landscape photos you brought home from class or one of the following as a starting place, explore the territory that opens up as you let go of the specifics.