Thursday, May 27, 2021

All Levels Homework 5/27/2021 Compared to What?

Is this barn warm or cool? Neither? Both?

It depends what we compare it to. When we see it juxtaposed against the grass it looks cool, but when it's next to the mountain it looks relatively warm. 

When you ask how light or dark a shape is the answer is always, "Compared to what?" The same goes for color temperature. How warm is this barn? Compared to what? It's warmer than the mountain, but cooler than the grass.

And yet, even though this old gray barn can change its temperature, it is still  a bit dull. It can be livened up by taking advantage of its complexity.

Since it has both warm and cool tendencies in this scene, why not mix a warm and a cool? Would you agree the barn has a dominant color? Blue, right? So start with blue, then add its compliment to neutralize it. You can allow the component colors to mix on the paper, leaving evidence of your process.

Notice how the barn boards leave the warm and cool components of  their neutral tones unmixed. This is an invitation to the viewer to mentally finish the job.

For homework, copy the painting or interpret the photo 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Beginning Watercolor Homework 5/21/21 Simplify!

If you have to choose between too much information and too little, go for too little. 

Here's a painting that uses no more than 3 layers in any given area to tell its story: Light, middle, dark.

And here's a photo that has the potential to do the same.


Leave out the detail. Please copy the painting or interpret the photo. Keep it simple.

Intermediate Homework, 5/21/21 Full Tilt

 Here are a few images that feature deep, heavily saturated paint. Many painters find them challenging, taking several layers to get the saturation rich enough. This exercise is an opportunity to practice getting it right on the first try.

Given that the paint will dry lighter than it appeared at first, it is logical to assume that you have to make it too  dark. Go ahead! Take the risk.

 If you can't see anything but black in large areas of one of these, feel free to invent the shapes and strokes that could be there. Maybe you can make them soft edged.

Don't be shy, now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Intermediate Homewowk 5 / 12 / 21 Reading the Trees

 Now that we've spent some time looking at how some familiar artists paint trees the next step is to paint some of our own. First, let's determine what role the trees are playing in the big picture. 

These arboretum trees are meant to be decorative,

while this one plays a more practical role, providing shade beside a brick kiln.

The treatment you devise may be different one tree from another. Edges,value, composition, complexity may be manipulated to express the kind of presence the trees have in their particular context. 

For homework, please consider how you want to interpret these scenes. You may want to paint the same scene with different approaches. Never mind what George Post would do, what would you do?

Feel free to use the trees as a jumping off place. You are not obliged to make your interpretation accurate

Have fun

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Beginning Homework 5 / 11 / 21 Easy Layers

 Hi everyone. This homework is a couple of days early. It should be ready to bring to class on the 19th

Tom has asked me to fill in for him while he is in D.C. putting the finishing touches on his portrait commission for the senate chambers. Here's the work in progress:

Not bad, eh?

I am called the lazy watercolorist. You've heard Tom say that with watercolor, the easy way is the right way. He got that from me.

Today, I want to talk about layers. Once you see your subject as a series of layers, the work of planning is pretty much done. Light, middle, dark, right?

 First, look for the major shapes. For each one, block in the lightest color as an overall wash. Many painters wet the paper before applying the washes, letting them run together somewhat. This is the EASY way! Why struggle to get the shapes to stay inside the lines when most of the first layer will get painted over by the time you add the middles and the darks?

If a shape has shadows on it, paint the whole shape with the lightest layer. There's no need to leave a white place where the shadow will be. The shadow can be applied right on top of the local color, which is much EASIER than trying to match the edges of a white shape.

Look at the shadows in this scene. Each rock has at least one facet in shadow. Imagine leaving all those white and then coloring them in without overlapping or leaving any of the white showing. Way too hard for me. I'd rather treat the rock pile as a single shape, all painted the lightest beige, and then apply the shadows as a second layer, right on top of the first. Then, finally, the few deep darks on top of the shadows. On top, not adjacent. Got it?

It may seem logical to keep the shadows separate from the local color. They are different colors, after all. But, when you apply the second layer on top of the first, the transparency of the medium allows the light and the middle to work together to give a perfect illusion of sun and shade.

One more thing; look at the shadow on the red wall. You would have to paint that on top of the lighter first layer while the red local color was still wet. You couldn't get those soft edges by leaving a white shape and coloring it in with the shadow color. 

Here are a couple more images that give you an opportunity to practice laying your shadows on top of the local color. If you have time, try doing them the easy way and the hard way, so you'll see why I always take the lazy route.
Till the next time

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Every.body's Homework May 6th, 2021 Developing Your Style

 The paintings here all feature large areas of trees, both deciduous and coniferous. If you take the time to copy some of them you will see that the artists whose work we're studying were making decisions regarding edges, color, value and complexity. There are some big differences from one painter to the next, and sometimes big changes in one artist's work from day to day. 

You may want just to copy the tree part of these images, which would be fine. Please take the time to understand the sequence of layers. For example, ask yourself what layer number one looked like when it was all there was on the page.

                                                          Ping Long

When do you suppose the trunks and branches arrived?

                                                                George Post

Not much sky. Post devised different patterns for the different kind if trees.

                                                                    Trevor Chamberlain

More soft edges than hard.

Ping Long

                                                Which is darker, the sky or the sunlit foliage?

                                                                 Trevor Chamberlain

Is this a watercolor?

                                                                                George Post

The trees form a partial frame for this subject.

Copying is a potent way to get inside another painter's mind. Take a moment to ask what the job of the trees was from painting to painting. In your copies, try for a version that represents the spirit of the painting rather than the letter. 

Have fun