Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Cut-Off Point

                                           Monhegan Lighthouse

The problem of where to cut off the parts of a structure can either bring the viewer's eye back into the composition or direct it off the page.  If, in the painting, I had chosen to depict the top part of the roof, it would have formed an arrow straight out of the painting.  Likewise the right part of the roof would have attracted too much attention if the whole rooftop had been squeezed into the composition.

.Also the little pine trees on the left are cut off in order to divide the sky and the lawn into more interesting shapes. 

I suggest that you think about cutting off parts of structures or natural elements to favor the shapes, lines and directions in your painting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Contrast and Dominance

One of the principles of art is contrast. Contrast of color is at work in this painting of an old bridge in Toledo, Spain.  The warm color on the land and the bridge contrast with the blue in the sky and water, with the warm dominating. There are also contrasts of values.  The focal point of the bridge is where the highest contrast occurs, thus directing your eyes to that point. 

By limiting the palette and using the dominant warm color, the painting emphasizes the warmth of the land and the sun.  Be conscious of the choices you make concerning color, and ensure mood of your painting when choosing a dominant.

This is another in my ongoing series of bridge paintings.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Limited Palette

When translating the values in my previous post into color, I decided to go for a very limited palette of muted colors.  I hoped that the values would tell the story.  Using very vivid colors would create a completely different emphasis. 

That said, I might try this scene again with a more colorful palette to see what that might produce.
Watch this space!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Taking Pleasure In Study

                                   Bad Kreuznach, Germany

More and more, I take great pleasure in preparing to paint.  Value studies are one way to ramp up my confidence and enthusiasm for the painting ahead.  Pencil in hand, I can make decisions about how to guide the viewer's eyes around the paper.  I also like the feel of the pencil against the page. 

Here's a view of the little German town where I taught high school English back in the '70's.  The silhouette is pleasing to me with the spires jutting up into the sky.  I also enjoy thinking about how to indicate the background with very little detail.  Now I can think in terms of color, trying out combinations in my head. 

Take time to prepare, and your painting process will be much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Keep it simple, stupid.

In this painting of sea stacks, I kept the shapes simple.  The cliffs and their shadows blended into simple shapes. The differing shades of the sand were reduced to three values.  The sea was one simple color broken only by the whites which represent the waves, and the sea stacks which are all different shapes and sizes.

But most of all, simplicity was achieved by eliminating as much texture as possible.