Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Painting the Negative Space

A light subject can be carved out by painting the negative space around it.  But many people have problems thinking in the negative.

In this painting of Old Orchard Beach Pier, you can see this approach in the first wash.  The buildings on the pier, some of the closer pilings, and some of the surf pools are left when I painted the space behind and around them. This requires good planning, a large loaded brush and a rather fast hand.  

The second and subsequent washes can be painted as positive darker shapes. Cast shadows can cut into the reserved lights  But the first wash that carves out a clear light shape by leaving it alone is the most important stage.  Study the first wash and the final painting and you'll see how saving those large white shapes was a key to the final painting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Elements of Design - Shapes

Edgar Whitney believed that the best shapes are longer in one dimension, interlocking, and oblique.
I try to keep that in mind when designing the shapes in my painting.

The hardest thing for students to understand is that shapes and objects are not synonymous.  The shade side of a building can be linked to the cast shadow of the building to form a dark shape.  The sunlit side of the building can be the same value as part of the background to form a light shape.

In this painting demo, the light on the path leads out to the light on ocean and then into the sky to form one light shape.  The path is an oblique and interlocks with some of the darker midtones of the ground vegetation.
And it is longer in length than in width.  Study the tree foliage for the same principles.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Art of Elimination

In this demo that I did for a workshop in Rocheport, Missouri today, the question that arose in the students' minds, and mine also, was about the tree in the center of the scene.  It was my immediate feeling that I should leave it out in order for more attention to be on the gazebo.  The tree would have immediately grabbed a lot of attention because of its central location and its dark red value which also would have been hard to repeat.
Near the end of the process when I could have still added the tree, the students all agreed that the painting was fine without the tree.  I had also eliminated a telephone pole and a guard rail in the foreground.

Before you choose to include something in your composition merely because "it was there", think about its usefulness to the painting.  Eliminating extraneous objects for the sake of your painting's streamlined idea is a smart move.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Elements of Design - Texture

Using a little bit of texture provides my paintings with some relief in areas that are just a bit too smooth and boring.  In my case, texture is either splatter, calligraphy or dry brush, and it usually can be found in the foreground.  But it should still be located in a small area to form a kind of shape or a line.  Randomly  placing texture everywhere in a painting will diminish its effectiveness.

Sorry I've been away for a while.  I suffered through a weekend of toothache pain and had an emergency root canal yesterday.  Painting and blogging went to the bottom of my priorities while the pain in my mouth took over my life!

I have a workshop with students in the Columbia, Missouri area this upcoming weekend.  Will post photos during that time!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Elements of Design - Direction

Objects, shapes, and lines can all point.  The directions can be vertical, horizontal or oblique (slanted).  A dominant direction can provide a restful feel (horizontal), a dignified formality (vertical), or an energized, exciting feeling (oblique).  Directions can also point out the focal point or direct the veiwer's eye through the painting.

In this painting of an old fort in St. Augustine, the obliques will guide you into the painting from almost every corner.  The shadows zig-zag through the center of interest.  The perspective of the turrets also form an implied directional path. Even the figures line up in an oblique direction.

Consciously designing objects and lines that have a dominant direction is a very helpful technique in creating an interesting painting.