Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Intermediate Watercolor Homework 9/29/20 Composition: Simple and Complex

 What makes a composition simple? Few shapes?  Enough overlap to locate the shapes in space, but not so much to complicate the relative distance? What else?

Mr. Wyeth, again. This sketch looks like a composition study. The land forms are few, the overlap minimal. The artist has placed objects as if to see whether this layout enhances or limits the illusion of space. Wyeth likes to create a tenuous balance, often stretching the placement of the shapes to the point of tension.

                                              Whoa! Where's the horizon?

Questions abound

Why do you think Wyeth placed that gate so that it is surrounded by light? What if this were a horizontal composition? Is this a simple or a complex composition? That's a lot of foreground considering how little specific information it carries. How many artists sitting on this hill would have cropped one side of the pond off? I suspect most of us would have made sure the whole pond was in the scene first thing. The big, simple shapes seem quite abstract. Isn't this really more abstract than representational?

For homework, have some fun rearranging the compositional elements of one or more of these, or choose an image of your own. Anything goes!

             Beginning Watercolor Homework : A Hard Edge is a Hard Edge, but a Soft Edge Asks, "How Soft?"

This sketch was mostly made on dry paper. The edges of the poplars, the shadows and the ridges

are all hard, Only a few strokes within the mountain shape and the sky are soft. The cloud edges are very soft, which makes a lively juxtaposition.

In this similar study the sky is very soft, again, using the same hard/soft contrast as the previous scene. Here, though, the edges of the trees are soft; not as soft as the clouds, you can see that the trees don't feather out as much. The trees' edges are softer than the dark rocks, but harder than the clouds.   Softness is relative.

Each subject of this sketch uses both hard and soft edges. Look at the brown trees; Some bleed into the mountain and some are distinctly separated from their the shadows and the snow. The mountain loses part of its ridge into the sky. It's as if the components of the landscape are all present, but they will not hold onto their boundaries. This sketch is close to being too loose to recognize. 
How much of the identity of the shapes can we afford to lose?

For homework, use one of these photos, below, to experiment with finding snd losing edges: Make a version with mostly soft edges, or one with only hard edges.Mixed edges?
The object of the exercise is to be deliberate in your choices, based on what looks and feels right. Go easy on the correcting.

 Feel free to change the edges in this sketch


Friday, September 25, 2020

Intermediate Homework 9/24/20 Complexity

 I often talk about the four variables of painting; Value, Edge Quality, Composition and Color. I think of them as the dials on the watercolor console. We can turn them up or turn them down, modulating the mood or style of a given painting. Color, for example, may manifest as understated or raucous, depending on the number of colors in the palette.These two paintings by Pail Klee have some qualities in common, but the overall feeling is very different, due to the limited palette in one and the extended palette in the other.


There is another factor at work, Complexity, 
which definitely involves adjusting the dials. Complexity reveals its presence by influencing value, color, composition and wetness.How simple or complicated a painting will be is revealed in the way those traditional variables are made to behave.
The mood that is projected from Klee's paintings is evident because of what the artist decided to do with color and company. 
For homework, find a photo and make two different versions of it, one very simple and the other very complex.  This one would work, or use one of your own, but when you're done, please send the photo you used along with the paintings.

Beginning Homework, 9/24/20 Layers of Soft Edges

Here are a few sky photos and paintings. Use any of these as a guide in your exploration of soft edged clouds. You might also try inventing a sky.

The step by step sequence goes like this:

1)   1) Wet the paper.
You can use a large brush or a soft sponge. Wet one side of the paper or both sides. You can soak the paper in a tub or run it under a faucet. Room temperature water is best. Definitely not hot! The more thoroughly you wet the paper, the longer it will stay wet. For these experiments please aim for all soft edges in the sky. The paper should be shiny but not puddled.

2)    2) Mix up a supply of pale neutral paint. Paint the shadows that appear on the bottom of the clouds.

3)    3) Add more pigment of a color similar to the first layer to get a darker version of the shadows. You don’t need more water for this step. There’s enough on the paper and in your brush. Paint the dark shadows along the bottom edge of the clouds.

4)    4) Wash and lightly dry the brush. It should still have a little water left for picking up some blue and painting the spaces between the clouds. Leave some white space above the cloud shadows. Hopefully, all the edges will come out soft. If you see hard edges before you're done, you can dry the painting and then re-wet the area where you want soft edges.

5)    5) Put some land or water along the bottom of the sky. Here hard edges would be fine.

6)        Send one or two of your skies to Linda.


No blue!? Can you still see this image as layers of pigment on wet paper?


Friday, September 18, 2020

Beginning Watercolor Homework, 9/18/ 2020: Mixing Complex Colors

Here's an exercise that will give you practice knowing where to begin when you feel challenged by a complicated color. 

Imagine that you live in a world where there are only 6 names for colors; Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange and Violet. 

Hold that notion while we gather some colored objects: Look around the house for a few things that are complicated in color; a paper bag, for example, or the palm of your hand. Eggplants are in season.

Using just one red, one yellow, and one blue. consider how you would begin to mix the color of one of your objects. How about a paper bag? If you're inclined to call the color brown, remember that in our world that is a meaningless word. You'll have to make an approximation and come as close as you can with our limited vocabulary.

 Now, what color is the bag? Maybe yellow. or orange? Whichever of the 6 color names comes closest is the dominant color. That is the most efficient place to begin mixing. Starting with the dominant color gets you pretty far toward a good duplicate of the color of your object. Go ahead and make the best match you can with your set of primary colors. Make a wash about 4x4 inches of your color on a piece of good paper.

Next, use a different set of primary colors and mix a match of the same object. Make a smooth wash of this match beside the first one. Take note of what you observe. Write the n\ames of the colors you used.

Do this same exercise for a few different objects. Save your color washes and the object you were matching for our "show and tell" next week.

Have fun

Intermediate Homework:9/18, Encore!

 The work you all did making Variations on a theme is inspiring! I'd like to go further on the road to refinement, this time holding onto value and exaggerating color, edge quality, composition and/or complexity.

Keep in mind that exaggeration needn't involve harsh or clamorous experiments. You could use a limited palette, for example, exaggerating a mood, or turning down intensity by adding a little bit of the compliment of each color. 

The impending storm, above, significantly downplays the textures of the fields. 

Below are a couple of photos that offer a simple collection of dark, middle and light shapes. Get a good grip on the value pattern and take of into an interpretation of your own.