|"Glass Bowl Challenge" Candy Conversation Hearts 7x5" watercolour on Stonehenge Kraft paper|
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
|Late afternoon on the Frozen River 5x7 watercolour on Stonehenge Kraft paper.|
Late Sunday afternoon I took Petey for a walk and then set up to paint. I've heard all of the stories about how you simply can't paint with watercolours in the winter. Evidently it was one of those things I had to find out for myself. I think my problem was that I started too late in the day. The temperature drops really fast when the sun starts going down and the wind didn't make things easier that day. Didn't matter, I was determined to paint.
Here's my setup and the orange arrow is pointing to one of my latest and greatest additions to my plein air set up. It's a kitty litter mat. I picked one up at Menards for $1.99 thinking it would help keep my feet warm while I painted in the colder months. Sometimes my thinking really pays off. While painting someone stopped and talked to me (aka interrupted my work) and I stepped off the mat to chat. I noticed I was getting colder and couldn't figure out why. Then it hit me, I was standing in a couple inches of snow where moments ago my feet were warm because they were standing on that little mat. It's hard to believe but it makes a huge difference. Surely any mat would work but I chose this for the price and that it can easily be cleaned off and rolled up and put into my bag.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
|Notan to check the composition before starting.|
|45 minute sketch of some naked trees by the river.|
I enjoy Steve Mitchell's videos, they're fun and informative. He approaches watercolour differently than I do but I always walk away with a useful technique or idea. This is a 40 minute video where he demonstrates and discusses how he approaches bare winter trees. There are five things I wanted to point out that I think are extremely helpful in this video.
- Aerial distance- He discusses how to achieve this and it's a pretty important topic if you're a landscape painter. A lot of people refer to this as aerial perspective. It's basically how you make objects, in this case it's the trees, appear to sit farther back in the distance to give your two-dimensional painting more depth. There are a few easy ways to do that. In his video he makes the distant trees more bluer and grey.
- Get reference material- This one is a must. Painting can be stressful enough but then add pulling something out of thin air on top of that and you're setting yourself up for disappointment. By no means do you need to copy the reference material, just use it as a guide or a starting off point. Something to give you ideas or clues as to what to do with your painting.
- Stonehenge Aqua- He's using Stonehenge Aqua 300lb cold press paper in his video. I used Stonehenge Kraft paper for my sketch. Stonehenge Aqua is very affordable and works really well. I know how it is when you're first starting out. The supply lists are intimidating and then you see the price tags on some of the required items and you already feel defeated. What's worse is buying those expensive supplies then being afraid to mess them up because you're just a beginner. I don't want to ruin a $25 sheet of paper! The Stonehenge Aqua is really affordable and is a great paper for beginners and experienced painters.
- Tester paper- He has a tester paper to test out his yellow before applying to the painting. This is always handy and it's something I wish I would remember to have around. I often swipe my brush on the tape but it's not the same thing. I know I've heard some artists say they never use a tester paper, but back to the previous point, if you're afraid of messing up that expensive sheet of paper then by all means use some scrap tester paper. Once you get more advanced then maybe you won't need to test your paint first.
- Branches aren't thicker than the trunk- This one is about the trees, and this is any kind of tree, not just naked ones. It's something a lot of people do and I'm not sure why. They paint/draw in the trunk of the tree and work out from there and somehow the branches end up thicker and bigger than the trunk. This isn't how most trees grow. There's probably some exception to that rule but look around outside and see what the trees look like. All I can think is, thank God the branches are smaller than the trunks otherwise I'd need a new roof on my house every year.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
|Winter at Oakland Mills 5x7 watercolour on paper (sold)|
|A few random "daily doodles"|
I encourage you all to do a challenge for the month of February. This might not seem like a useful tip but if you do it you'll probably realise it's one of the more useful tips out there.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Back to Andrew Loomis and his P's and C's. While I was searching for the correct words to use to explain pattern I re-read part of Loomis's book and I found a part that I wanted to share. While highlighting that particular part of the book it reminded me of being a kid in school. I don't know how long highlighter markers have been around but I remember them being the latest and greatest study tool back in the 80s. The teacher was so excited for us to use them and she explained that they were for highlighting important words in textbooks. Obviously I had to make the argument that all of the words in the textbook were important. You, and I'm sure the teacher did, think I'm just arguing semantics but it's important to communicate correctly. Don't be lazy with your choice of words, there are millions of them to use, use the right one to best get your point across. What the teacher should have said was, highlight the KEY words. If the words are in a textbook and I'm required to read them, they better all be important words but there are some that are KEY to understanding the topic. This goes for the same as when you paint. Sure everything you put in your painting should be important but there are key elements that you want to focus on. So imagine your painting as a textbook and you're going to use your fancy highlighting marker to make the most important (KEY) words stand out. How do you do that? Here's what Loomis says,"The artist won't go wrong when he can see the big truths, or what he feels to be the big truths. If he looks for the big planes, the big lights and shadows, the big values and relationships, he will do a better job. One can easily get lost in a lot of little truths without seeing the big ones. The leaf compared to the bulk and mass of the tree itself is the difference between the big truths and the little ones, or between big vision and eyesight.". When reading that I envisioned the big truths as being those key words that I should highlight in the textbook and the little truths were the rest. The little truths, or non-key words, are still important because they hold the sentence/painting together. I suppose you could think of it as the main actor, supporting actors and stage props. They're all important to put a play together but the main actor is going to do the most important parts that the audience will want to focus on. I'll try to demonstrate with a photo now.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
|225 S. Canal St 7x5" ink on Bristol|
Loomis's fives P's are;
- Proportion- the three dimensions.
- Placement- a position in space
- Perspective-relationship of viewpoint to subject
- Planes-surface appearance as defined by light and shadow
- Pattern-the deliberate arrangement of the tones of a subject
I'm adding number six, Practice. Practice practice practice. If it sounds like I'm nagging you to practice then that's on you. If you don't want to practice then it won't feel like nagging. If you know you should be but you aren't it will sound like nagging, so again, it's all on you. If you feel guilty for not doing something that's not my fault. In another book I found this, "Remember the pianist who said that if he did not practice every day he would know, if he did not practice for two days, the critics would know, after three days, his audiences would know." Truly there is no better P than practice.
If it weren't for practice I wouldn't have been able to do the above sketch. It utilizes most of the P's as well. Proportion was considered from the start. What would this look like in a landscape view? The height of the building wouldn't come into play as much and maybe it would feel like more of an intimate setting. Instead I wanted to emphasize the grand size of the building. Placement was considered with the few standing figures. I could have thrown them in any old place but I put some consideration as to where they'd be best placed to make a nice composition. Perhaps they could have been placed somewhere else but it's a bit of a gamble and another reason why we should do sketches and think first. Perspective, hopefully this one is obvious. I knew it was going to be a difficult subject so I went for an easy one-point perspective. I didn't want to start the new year off by pulling all of my hair out so I took the easy route. Planes, again this one should be easy considering I did a black and white ink drawing, but you can see where perspective plays a big role for my planes to work correctly. The white floor and the white walls could easily be seen as a flat plane but hopefully the strong vertical lines of the columns and horizontal lines of the benches help break up those planes. Pattern, pattern is the one I struggle with the most. Or used to for sure. When I hear the word pattern I think of textiles and those types of patterns. Polka dots, stripes, paisley, PATTERNS. This one is more about putting lights and darks down to emphasize each other. Pattern might be harder to explain with these black and white drawings so maybe I'll do a Tuesday tip on that by itself.