Saturday, October 29, 2011

St. Louis Proud!

Sorry I haven't posted lately, but I've been busy cheering on my St. Louis Cardinals who are now the World Series Champions!  It's hard to believe since on August 25th, we were 10 1/2 games out of first.  But we scratched our way back to the Wild Card spot and then beat the Phillies and the Brewers in the playoffs.

Game 3 was amazing with Albert Pujols tying only Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson with three home runs in one game.  But Game 6 will forever be implanted in my memory as the most amazing baseball game I have ever seen.  Twice, the Cards were one strike away from losing it all, but came back to tie the game.  And home town favorite David Freese nailed it down with a walk off home run which sent us to last night's game and victory!  A fairy tale ending to an amazing season!  If sports is a metaphor for life, the message is don't ever give up.  In baseball or in painting!  The journey is its own reward!

Here's Albert Pujols hitting a homer early in the season.  And waiting in the batter's box is World Series MVP David Freese.  Congratulations to the World Series Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Color and Value

Many of my students have a difficult time translating their black and white value sketches into color.
Either their value sketch doesn't have a clear pattern of value shapes (at least three), or when they transfer their idea to the paper and start to translate it into color, they are fine with the light values, but the midtones and darks don't seem to be clear enough.

Here's a reversal of the process.  I took a photo of my latest painting and used the computer to convert it to black and white.   You can clearly see that there are light areas, midtones (especially around the edges where I wanted the least emphasis), and darks where I wanted the viewers' eyes to be drawn. 

Some colors do not lend themselves to dark values.  Yellow is especially hard to go much beyond a light midtone.  But most other colors can be rendered darker merely by limiting the amount of water applied in the second or third glaze.  To maintain glowing transparency, it is important to be able to commit to the midtones and darks the first go, or you will have to try again with the real possibility of muddying the area.

Try changing your computerized image of one of your paintings into black and white to see if you have clearly rendered the three basic values.  It would be a helpful thing to do this during the stages of your painting, too, to see where placement of a dark would enhance the focal area.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

From This to That

People often wonder how the artist starts a painting.  I started this one with a cool relief of blues and then  proceeded to what was to come...a warm, red, violet ground color.  Then I began to pick away at the midtone I had established to "find" objects in the wharf scene.  I did no previous drawing or value study.  I simply knew that I wanted to emphasize the wharf objects, so I started finding barrels, flags, boats, and architectural features I have used before.  It is all invention.  But it is very conscious design.  Obliques that are emphasized by the darks and cools help create shapes that are interesting and create tension. 

Remember that every color dominance needs a relief of its opposite.   Warms need a little cool, and cool dominance needs a little warmth.  And above all, establish interesting interlocking shapes!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Workshop Opportunity

I am conducting a workshop in Naples, Florida    February 20th - 24th.  Tuition for the five day workshop is $425.  To reserve your place, send a check before December 20th to     Carol Jessen    8865 Flamingo Ct.  Brentwood, MO  63144    You also might want to make your lodging reservations soon as it will be high season in southern Florida.

Please join us for painting in sunny, warm Naples in February!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The "S" Curve

                                     "I Saw Her First"
In this painting of sunflowers and daisies, I painted the background first, keeping in mind the trail of white shapes which formed an "S" curve.  It was then a matter of emphasizing the focal area with a few well placed darks. 

Seasonal subjects are always a good choice.  Pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, apple pie.  Try some!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travel Paintings

                                                               "Newport Harbor"
When I'm travelling long distance by car, I always keep my French easel on top of the suitcases just in case I get an urge to paint.  But I can't remember a time when I've been willing to spend a couple hours painting in lieu of seeing as much as I can during a limited visit.

So photographs are the answer.  On the way home from Maine this year, I veered off course to Newport, Rhode Island.  So much to see:  the mansions on Bellevue Drive, the cliff walk, Ocean drive, the tree lined, cobblestone streets of downtown, the wharves.  So the easel stayed in the trunk.

When I arrived home, I was able to filter all the sights and sensations of the place.  The one lasting impression I have of Newport is the harbor and the scene of the America's Cup races.  The bridge out of Newport over to Jamestown Island  was impressive and heart shaking, as I would soon have to drive over it!  Here it is, seen from Goat Island and its lighthouse, in all its magnificent, terrifying altitude!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Back!

Sorry I was gone for a while.  I was on the road back to my home here in St. Louis.  Between packing up and travelling, I also haven't done any painting in a couple of weeks.  But now I should be settling into a routine and posting more frequently.

Here is a painting I did up in Maine a few weeks ago.  It is also on the subject of zooming in.  To give you an idea of the actual distance I was from the lighthouse, I'm also including a painting done earlier this summer.
Sometimes zooming in will change your whole perspective about the subject, and give you a different motivation for painting it.

Glad to be back!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

When confronted with an overload of possible subjects on location, the tendency is to think that since it's there, everything must be included in your composition.  Not so.  It only confuses the viewer when looking at such a painting.  What is this picture about?  If the answer is, Everything, try zooming in on one particular object or building or boat. 

If you can title the painting, it might help focus your attention and thus eliminate extraneous details.  A painting called "Boothbay Harbor" doesn't tell us much about what you want to say about the place.  If you can say, "Sunset over Boothbay Harbor", we know your focus was on the sky and its light and color.  If you give it a title of "Red Wharf", both you and viewer will know that your interest was on the color red, not just the subject.

The time to do the hard work of focusing on your purpose is before you start the drawing or painting.  Know what you want to say.  Then say it!