Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monday night and Wednesday Morning Homework: Asking the Questions

Copying is a powerful tool, but it can also be confusing. The work we've been doing studying and copying passages of landscape paintings is all about focusing awareness on the choices an artist makes. The idea is to make similar choices regarding wetness, color, value and composition.
This is a different activity from making a painting that looks just like the original. If you notice, for example, that the artist chose to wet the paper before applying the first wash, and then proceeded to make big, confident, fluid strokes, you should do the same. If you make similarly bold strokes, they WILL NOT be identical in appearance to the original. How could they be? The only way to get them to look just alike would be to make many, many, very small and extremely careful strokes. I repeat, the purpose of the exercise is to understand the choices that an artist made. That, and to practice asking the questions that make your own choices deliberate.

Ballston Dunes
Take a look at the shadows the grasses cast on the dunes in this beach scene. As brushstrokes, they all begin at the base of the grass clump and sweep downward at an angle. In a copy of this painting, it doesn't matter much exactly what the angle is, but it is important for all the shadows to be at the same angle. Similarly, the color relationship of the grass and the shadows is more important than the specific colors. As long as your copy shows warm grass and cool shadows, the spirit of the copy will be like the original. It's more about the intensity of the light than the actual palette.

Look for a watercolor landscape that you admire, and take your time tuning in to the artists choices. What matters most? Make a version that feels like the original.
Have fun

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