Thursday, February 17, 2011

intermediate Watercolor homework 2/17/11

How do you decide which form of preliminary study will prepare you to make a well-informed painting?

There are many ways to distill the flood of information a new image presents. Some of us like to start with a simple pencil sketch, to get a quick version of the scene in two dimensions. Some want to see the image as a pattern of darks and lights, to get a basic understanding of the structure that will hold the picture together. Others like to eliminate detail and texture, to help sort out the essential from the optional. Then there's the 2 color, warm/cool sketch, that reveals the role of color temperature in determining a feeling of depth, and so on....
Choosing how to begin finding the essence of a new image requires a combination of knowing your own habits, and assessing the particular challenges of the scene. If you know that reserving the lights is difficult for you, for example, and the subject you've chosen involves some important, specific white areas, it would be a good idea to focus on a study that will help you make sure you don't lose those spots.
Remembering to ask, "What looks tricky?" before you launch into the painting is a good way to check both your own insecurities and the unique nature of the scene.

What looks tricky? 
The answer will not be the same for everyone, but for me, the challenges stem from  too many areas of interest.
This is a very busy scene, which is part of why I like it. Everywhere I look there are many individual forms. My eye wants to linger, but quickly gets drawn elsewhere. How can I give the viewer a sense of the wonderful complexity of the market, while still providing an image that can be perceived as a coherent whole? I need to decide what should be specified and what can be merely implied. 
Making a geometric study, where forms are refined down to flat shapes, with no texture would be a good pace to start. Then I can decide where I want to reinsert more information. I could also learn a lot by making an all soft-edged version, to see where I wish there were hard edges.

What looks tricky?
Hmm...Not too many shapes. Very clear dark/light pattern. Easy to read depth. Balanced composition. Nice warm/cool distribution. No need for fancy brushwork. Sometimes nothing looks tricky. What am I waiting for?

Find an image that attracts you. 
Make a written assessment of what looks tricky. 
Plan a preliminary study, or studies that address the challenges. 
Paint the study. 
Write down what you learned. 
Paint the picture. 
Have fun.

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