Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Anywho, if you're looking for a good book that won't make you feel like the bottom of a shoe, check out "Alla Prima II" by Richard Schmid. When I first read this book it was loaned to me by a fellow artist. Someone who had gone through and underlined the parts he found most interesting. THAT was cool. Then I had to get my own copy because it's such a large book full of information that can be referenced again and again. One of the things that popped out at me was this, "Focus on the fascination of problem solving". More and more I'm beginning to believe that problem solving is what sets artists apart. We should all come to a point in our lives, not just our lives as painters, when we begin to at least attempt to solve our own problems. With painting it's nice to have some guidance and it's great to have someone around that you can ask questions to. However, at some point you need to try to figure things out on your own. Modern medicine wouldn't be where it is now without trial and error. We wouldn't be able to fly around the world without the many failed attempts at building aircrafts. Almost every item in an art supply store was born from problem solving.
It's funny for me to think about this. Having the fascination to solve problems is kind of a more eloquent way of saying don't be lazy. When in school I had a professor for Design 1 and he constantly tried to get us to improve a box. Yes, a box. I'll admit I was lazy and rather than doing the assignment I would write arguments as to why it didn't need improving. I got an A and a recommendation to go to law school so I could argue all day. A few years later I worked in a music store and would always complain about the boxes the guitars came in. I would go on and on about why didn't they make the box open up this way, or shorten the flaps here and staple it shut on that side instead. There I was, years later, doing the assignment, but not for a grade that time.
To summarize the point; try to work out as many problems on your own. Imagine every instructor as Rembrandt or Michelangelo and you could only ask them one question per class. Would you waste that one question asking them how to draw a straight line? Besides problem solving is almost more rewarding than a good painting.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Back to that rule about not putting anything in the center rule. This is usually a good one to follow, especially for beginners. Composition/design is one of those things that you have to learn the rules before you can break them. Crawl before you can walk.
In "the Artist's magazine" that I mentioned last week there's a tip from artist Jane Jones, "The rules of composition warn against placing something directly in the middle of a painting. And it's true that placing an object off-center makes the composition less formal and adds an immediate feeling of movement. But I've found that the center is a very powerful area that can be used for emphasis and formality. Centering an object makes an immediate statement about its importance".
If you check out her work here you can see how she makes that statement with her still life paintings.
I think this is the hang up with this particular rule about putting things in the center. We associate the center with importance. I usually try to follow the rule of not putting something in the center but with the sketch above I put the woman with the sour face right in the cross-hair. On purpose. I did it because I wanted to put so much more emphasis on her than anyone else. There are three other people in the sketch but I designed them to emphasize the crab apple in the bunch. That's not fair for me to say, she's probably a really nice lady, I just happened to catch her with that expression on her face. Point is, if I had never learned why I shouldn't put something in the center I'd never be able to pull off actually putting something in the center. It goes back to how I designed the people and things around her. If I didn't know the rules I wouldn't have set up everything else to work around her and the center of interest would've been lost, even with her smack in the middle.It's funny how learning the rules first is what's going to give you the freedom to work the way you want.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
|Looking West on J-Street 7x5" watercolour on Kraft paper.|
This tip comes from John Cogan from September 1993. (I was a freshman in high school that year). "Before you ever begin painting you must choose your light source, consider its effects on everything in the painting, and then apply those effects consistently through the scene. If you're not certain what the effects of certain lighting will be, then you need to make direct observations outdoors. Every landscape painter needs to spend time painting, sketching and observing on location".
This is something I struggled with when I first started plein air painting. The one thing people told me was I had to paint fast because the light would change so that's all I focused on, speed. Now when I go out I find something I want to paint and try to first observe how the light is and then figure out which direction the light is going. In the sketch I posted above I'm facing west so I knew that the light was going to go down the street. It's also coming from behind me so that gave me extra time to work.
It may seem complicated but once you get out and do it a few times it just becomes second nature.
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
|Freshly Mowed Path, 4 1/2x6 1/2" watercolour sketch on Stonehenge Kraft paper.|
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Andrew Loomis said, "To learn to draw is to draw and draw and draw". Draw everything, but mix it up. For almost a whole year I did nothing but draw landscapes, then I had a project that required me to draw people. I felt like I had forgotten how to do it. I was rusty to say the least and was frustrated with my attempts. Some people use the phrase, like riding a bicycle. Well, yes drawing can be much like riding a bicycle but at its basic. If you haven't ridden in a bike in a few years you can probably still get on one and pedal down the street but you're no longer very sure of yourself. It takes consistency. One easy thing to do is to mix it up. If you're out painting landscapes every day maybe take a half hour every day to sketch people or animals.