Monday, May 16, 2011

intermediate Watercolor Homework 5/15/11

I imagine you’ve all come across recommendations from artist/authors telling you to  “link the darks”, or “connect the light shapes”.  I know I had heard about the practice long before I understood what the benefits are. Is it a good idea? Always? What does it accomplish?
To put it simply, the idea is to have fewer shapes in the painting. Even if there are many separate objects in your composition, you can limit the visual confusion by connecting forms of similar value. The resulting larger shapes often make a bold, simple abstract pattern that co-exists with the content.

If you find a scene with similar value shapes easily linked, or find ways to move your shapes around a bit until they are connected, you may end up with some really big darks. You might begin to wonder if the narrative content of the scene will come across, or if the picture will be interesting enough with big chunks of dark, vacant space. But if you delineate all the information that you know is in those darks you risk breaking them back up into many little pieces. The job seems to involve creating a balance between an interesting abstract pattern and a well-told story.
How specific you make whatever you decide to include plays a big role in finding your balance. Here are some examples of different approaches. Take a look at the use of hard or soft edges, and the number of individual shapes that are contained within the big shapes.

Find a photo or a live scene where you can adjust the darks and lights into a simpler pattern. Do a quick study with what you think is too little info in the dark areas. Use this to inform how much to include in the next version. Keep refining until you are happy.

1 comment:

  1. The images above are by: top, Michael Reardon, and bottom two, Alvaro Castagnet