Thursday, August 29, 2013

Painting Shapes

Yesterday another painter came by to show me his painting.  The first thing I noticed was that everything was spotty or striped.  The water was not a solid shape, only a series of stripes all the way out to the horizon.  And the trees were a series of dabs that didn't read as leaves and certainly didn't form the shape of the foliage.

This is the most common mistake I see when painting trees and water.  In this painting of Boothbay Common and the Civil War Memorial, the trees are one shape, delineated only by subtle changes in color and value along the way.  Their dark shape acts as a foil against the light shapes of the statue and the city hall.  If you try to define every leaf with small dots of color, then the leaves become a distraction from the things that you want to highlight.

When painting trees, connect the leaves into clumps or shapes.  Too many light sky-holes are not shapes, but only more dots.  There's a nervous quality to paintings with so many short strokes and dabs.  It belies an amateur quality with its hesitation.  Be bold in the application of the strokes! Watercolor's charm is in the flow of the water, so stroke, don't dab.

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