Friday, November 11, 2022

Free For All


Here’s a quick color study made with a big brush on small paper. The result is

almost entirely shapes with just about no lines at all.

Here’s another shape painting, by Jacob Lawrence. Both works begin with

plans, by the way.

Now for a  line - dominant scene by Lyonel Feininger. Here, even the shapes

are made by surrounding them with lines.

Finally, here’s a mix of lines and shapes from George Post, who made his elegant

compositions from careful pencil drawings.

When you are interested in combining lines and shapes you can begin by taking

note of what those around you do on purpose. It is just as useful for realism and


Find an image to paint that gets you thinking about what is made of shapes and

what is made of lines. Remember that you are in charge.

Friday, November 4, 2022

We Found the People!

 Let's  do some work practicing painting people in watercolor. Look up  artists whose paintings you admire. Chances are you'll like their people, too.

A couple of things to keep in mind; 

It's better to  make your figures too tall  than  too short.

Legs are longer than we think and heads are not that big.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Using Edges to Create an Illusion of Space

Using edge quality to create an illusion is familiar territory to most realist artists. It is especially important for watercolor painters, for whom the meaning of the shapes and strokes are realized by the behavior of the water. Look at this detail from a watercolor landscape. 

You can see that the paper was wet when the pattern of the background was applied, and suddenly dried when it reached the foreground. The abrupt change of edge texture reveals which shape was meant to seem to be in front. The illusion is also supported by color temperature changes along a transition line between background and foreground, but it is definitely what happens where hard edge meets soft that accounts for most of the impression of space. 

Choose a picture from your own collection or use one of these and experiment with hard and soft edges. Can you see the location of the major shapes change when you alter the edges?

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Paint Itself

In addition to the usual elements of a realistic painting in progress, such as color distribution or the illusion of light, a watercolor painter  often needs to pay attention to and make decisions about the look of the medium itself.  Is the paint worth looking at as a collection of brushstrokes apart from what it is a picture of?

Look at this watercolor by Georgia O'Keefe. The paint has been set free to flow and the transparent strokes are encouraged to allow light to pass through the subsequent layers. See how setting the strokes free  demonstrates that the subject matter can be made from nothing but the beautiful paint

Not every watercolor is first and foremost about the paint..
Here are two from John Marin : one that Scratches it's way across the page 
and another that swims gracefully.

How about making two versions of an image from one of these painters or another of your choice

and consider, for example,
how would Arthur Dove have painted the scene or object?
How about Marsden Hartley?
Charles Burchfeld?
Helen Frankenthaler?



Thursday, October 13, 2022

Green Light

Here's a motif we saw several times in last week's critique. The first  layer was  mostly soft-edged and pale, more shapes than lines.

 The collection of marks still has no content when the second layer is applied. It is heading toward recognizable content, but without any third layer darks we have to guess what we're looking at.

This collection of shapes becomes meaningful right away. Just about everything happens by the time the second layer is composed. 

And here's a combination of shapes and lines built along a traditional track that stops at light, middle, dark and ultra dark, picking up context along the way. 
Feel free to work with recognizable form and/or abstraction. 
Be prepared to describe how your painting unfolds

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Try Not to Try

Painting by Susan Dory

Can you make a thoroughly abstract painting like Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler or maybe Frank Stella or Donald Judd? Try to make a painting that doesn’t remind you of something else.

Take some time to look up these painters and when you are ready, start painting.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Cross the Line: Realism>Abstraction

 We have seen several images that only need a stroke or two, to move from realism to abstraction.

Look at this image from China Beach. What would it take to nudge this image from the realist to the abstract?

Can you move this image both ways?

Give it a try.