Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Getting Ready

Tomorrow is the first of 4 half day workshops I'm giving in St. Charles, Missouri.  This time the emphasis will be on values and shapes, and then creating bold color statements.  Of the two, I think that the preparation for distinct values and creating interesting, energetic shapes is the more important one.  I used to skip over this when teaching, reasoning that I had the values in my head.  Students could see the shapes I had devised because the drawing was on the page.  But they were not mind readers, and they couldn't see the plan as to where I was going to put the darks, midtones and values.

Now I see that is exactly where most students need help.  Having a clear plan helps speed up the paint application process which keeps the painting fresh and transparent. 

Here's tomorrow's subject with values.

A reminder:  I am available for workshops in your area!

Friday, October 24, 2014


I love giving demos to art groups!  Last night I gave a demonstration based on the sketch of the farm in the last post.  As you can see, from photo to completed painting, I made several changes along the way.

I decided first that a slight tilt in the terrain might improve the dynamics of direction by providing an oblique for more energy.  I also decided that overlapping the line of trees behind the barn with the mountains would help set off the light orange fall foliage.  I also made one of the birch trees in the foreground bigger so as to give it more weight.  It serves the purpose of stopping the eye from going off the picture plane as well.

A very obvious change was made in the barn.  I changed its color from red to white.  I was concerned that the darker value of a red barn wouldn't draw your eye in to the focal area and wouldn't "read" as well.  I then added a different shaped shed on the right side of the scene for balance.  Texture was created on the stone wall on the right with fence posts hinted at.  And finally the stone wall in the foreground was made a bit darker to sandwich the farm scene with darker values.

Good composition doesn't just magically happen.  Think about what you are trying to say and devise ways to say it using design principles and elements.

Thanks to the Greater St. Louis Art Association for their invitation to talk with everyone about my favorite subject:  painting watercolors!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Getting Ready

I have two demos and four workshop days in the next two days, so I'm getting compositions ready for all of them.  Here's one sketch I plan to use.  I'm also posting the original photo to show you what I was working with.  The farm is in Vermont. 

The barn in the middle ground is the main subject so I surrounded it with the greatest value contrast.
When I paint it, the barn will have the most color, with the background and outlying areas going to muted color.

I also made the ground an oblique for added interest.  I eliminated a few buildings, and emphasized the stone wall in the foreground. 

Go through your photos and edit them for subject matter and then eliminate anything that takes from the center of interest.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't Be Afraid of Color

There was a time when I avoided certain colors because they were so aggressive.  Red was especially intimidating.  Over time, however, I began to realize that I was drawn to paintings with lots of reds and oranges and other warm colors.  I started experimenting, making color a subject in and of itself.

I've painted this scene a hundred times.  A realistic interpretation demands blue sky, green trees and brown rocks.  But producing a glowing, color-unified painting requires more thought.  I was not trying to depict a sunset when I chose this warm palette; I was trying to evoke a response to a color choice that was more personal to me and that produced an emotional reaction in the viewer.

Using a bit of the complement at the focal point was also a deliberate choice.  Adding relief in the choice of green makes the red all the more powerful.

The subject matter is still a lighthouse, but the primary subject--the colors-- evokes a mood and conveys my personal response to the scene.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Painting in a Series

Finding subjects that repeatedly attract your attention is a fun way to track your painting progress.
Here are several painting done in the past year of bridges. 

I'm on the way home from my summer in Maine in my new car.  More paintings to follow soon when I get settled.