Sunday, September 25, 2011

Limited Palette

I've said it several times this summer because I believe it;  limiting your palette will force you to concentrate more on your values.  This painting was done with yellow ochre, burnt sienna and ultramarine blue.

In addition, when making a painting of a repeated object, the further you recede, the fewer details are needed.  By the time you get to the last buoy, the eye has already figured out the shapes, and so including every detail there is not necessary.

What better subject to say "Maine" than a string of lobster buoys? 

Is this the last painting of my summer?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Small Paintings

On a wet, soggy day, plein air painting is impossible, so I decided to do some more small paintings.
I normally don't paint flowers, but I'm on a flower kick.  Here are two more.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Little Paintings

The last day of my workshop, I encouraged students to paint often.  But that isn't easy when you're searching for ideas and trying to be bold.  So I set up an assembly line of small paintings:  5 1/2 x 7 1/2", taped with masking tape around the edges.  I first painted the background of one, then the sky of a second, the water of the third, etc.  By the time I painted the fourth or fifth background or underpainting, painting #1 was dry enough to go back to.  I had no idea what the subject was going to be in most cases, so that freed me up to explore the shapes with bold color.

Try this small painting-assembly line approach and see if it doesn't make you loosen up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Staying Loose

First, I want to say thank you to all my students who made the first annual Carol Jessen Boothbay Harbor Watercolor Workshop a great success  You worked hard, played hard, and ate and drank well!  Let's do it again next year!

One of the goals stated by the students was to learn how to stay loose.  Here are five suggestions:

1.  Keep the background simple, perhaps painting it wet-into-wet (dry-into-wet).

2.  Find several places to soften your edges.  Hard edges need the contrast of soft edges.

3.  Use larger brushes for the first two thirds of the painting process.  That will cause you to think in terms of large and middle sized shapes.

4.  Paint standing up.  Swinging your arm instead of rotating your wrist will keep your strokes longer and more fluid. 

5.  Hold your brush farther down the handle.  The more you hold your brush like a pencil, the tighter your strokes will tend to be.

Happy splashing!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

On location on the the third day of my workshop, I looked at the gazebo on Boothbay Common and noticed the town office building across the street.  I thought it would be fun to look through the gazebo at the building. Framing things with objects in the foreground that the viewer has to peek around or through is an old photographer's trick, useful when designing painting compositions, too.

Remembering yesterday's lesson, I decided to work in contrasting colors of blue and orange.  Figures always give scale and life to a landscape, so I included a happy couple under the gazebo, which is slightly off center.  To add interest to the right side of the background, I carved out a tree by painting the negative space around it.

What a great bunch of kids in my workshop this week!  So eager and ready to give it the old college try!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dominance and Contrast

Deciding which side of the temperature scale is to be the dominant one in the painting is critical.  Throwing equal parts of warm and cool colors at the paper doesn't establish a clear color theme. But staying exclusively on the cool side or exclusively on the warm side doesn't provide enough contrast to create the tension that gives a painting interest. 

Think about a novel with a fictional character that is all good.  That would be a rather boring story. Most authors create interest in their good characters by showing a flaw in their character that leads to tension and therefore creates interest.  Their intentions are good, their past is filled with good decisions and actions, but suddenly a flaw crops up that contrasts with the dominant good side, and creates interest.

The same is true of paintings.  It is imperative that you know which temperature is going to "win" or dominate.  But it is also necessary to provide a touch of relief in the form of a cool at several places around the picture, especially near the focal point.

Here are two views of Hendrick's Head Lighthouse on Southport Island, Maine.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Workshop Eve

I spent the day getting ready for my first annual Boothbay Harbor Workshop. Today was all about setting up and hauling supplies and paintings to the Lions Club where I'm holding the workshop.  Twelve students have signed up.  Not bad for the first time around.

I'll be posting almost every day this week.  Check back often!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Relief By Contrast

A painting should display a dominance of color temperature, either warm or cool.  A warm painting needs a little relief, so placing a few cools near any spot in the painting that you'd like to emphasize, relieves the eye.
Contrast is always an attention grabber.  But keep the relief smaller than the dominant color.

Also notice the trail of S-curved white that will direct the path that the eye will travel.

Good to be back in Maine!  Between hurricanes and a quick trip home to the sweltering midwest, I haven't gotten much painting done lately.  I hope that will now be corrected!