Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's all about the little things!

When it comes to painting, it is all about the little things.

Men will always question the rigging on a boat or details of a car or motorcycle.  Women who garden know the number of petals on a Magnolia and bird lovers can tell you the age of a bird by it detail colouring.....
  so,  details are important.

Most beginner painters want loads of detail.  Older painters with years of experience want a more painterly style and bolder use of colour.  We all want an enjoyable experience with more impressive results.

Growing in your art is like all of life.  If you continue to add new experiences and challenges, life continues to be filled with joy and that leads to better health.  Take the challenge to a better life and get out there and paint!!  In my classes I work to give you courage and to inspire you to greater ideas.  Anyone who gets the courage to come paint in a small group of strangers deserves this and a fun day of trying new things.

Back to the easel....

I take many little breaks to think thru all my little details on the "big slab,"  "shrimper" or "trawler."
My shrimp boat is grand and I have painted the sunshine on its hull and cabin with Titanium white adding a little yellow ochre to give it warmth. 

The shadows under the cabin are shades of blue and grey-purple to give the shadows life.

As my students know, I rarely use a tube "black" choosing instead to make an "optic black" from
 Sap Green, 
Ultramarine Blue and 
Alizarin Crimson. 

 If you want a "cool" black, add more blue. 
If you want a warm black, just add more red. 

If you do not have these colours on your palette, simply use any strong blue, strong red and strong green.... never light shades or hues of anything.  For the grey colors of weathered wood...just add a little ochre or white to some of you "optic black" to get a great and alive family of greys.

Why optic black ?

Optic black is an alive black.   If you use it to paint the dark openings in your fish shacks or barns, it will not look like a flat black wall, but instead will appear as if it is a space that you can walk into.  It has depth.

I challenge you to put your tube of black paint in the drawer and learn to live with more colour in your art.

Painting water !!

Few things are more fun to paint than water.

Choose and mix the different colours in your water.  Apply using a 1" wide flat brush in short VERTICAL strokes.  Once all the canvas and water area is covered in your water colours,  take a soft blending brush and using only HORIZONTAL strokes lightly blend the colours....

Make sure you don't over work this or it will not be visually effective.

If you ever get to attend one of my classes or workshops, painting water is often part of my lesson.  The same basic technique is very effective in doing skies or backgrounds, with a slightly different twist in the brush work.  

Since the water area has a nice "buttery" layer of very juicy paint, I will want to let this dry before I begin my next step.  Remember, we are working from the back (far distance) to the front so my marsh grasses, rocks and tree on the back will come in next.

See ya next week with another report!   

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 Thank you!!

Donna Peters

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Getting to the subject....

The next area to work on in my painting is the "subject" plane.   This is one area where we can obsess  to a paint where the painting is not fun to paint... but MOST of all such an area can ruin a painting because it can become "labored looking."    If you ever do this in one of your own works, you will always be haunted by the "over-worked" or labored emotions that come off the end of the brush and are always present to remind you of your own experience.

Learning to paint is a first step, but learning to be "painterly" in style is just as desirable.  Beginners almost always work for the control over a brush, but as we learn and grow, we desire to relax and become more painterly... less labored in style and effect.  When we begin to relax and paint for the sake of art, we are truly blessed with a new experience.

The area half way between the viewer and the horizon my subject plane.  This means it will have the most detail, contrast and colour.  I delight in painting this area, but it can also be very intimidating at first.  If the mind does not have enough information before the brush goes into action, disaster is certain.
To avoid this mistake, I set the canvas on the easel and begin to think about what I will do next.  I refer to my notes, sketches and photos for information.  I make key decisions about what should be left out and what should be simplified or altered.  After all, I am the artist and this needs to be a work of artistic interpretation... not a copy of a photograph.  

 Control your attack on the painting.  Decided carefully what should be worked on next.  Plan a program of addressing one item at a time.

I was anxious to paint the pelicans.  The sky was dry and I had gone back in with a soft pencil and drawn the birds back in using my original sketches.

Birds look so different in different seasons, at different ages and of course there are many varieties.  Be sure you use the variety that is natural to your painting location.  If you are not familiar with birds and how to paint them,  visit the works of other artists on the web, at the museums or a trip to the library.  The confidence and information you gain will be worth the trip.

I mixed lots of Liquin (my preferred medium) with Brown Madder for the beaks and bellies, yellow Ocre for the heads, and a mixture of greys for the wings and backs.  The paint was so thin that it was transparent making for great textures.  I will consider this an "under-paintng" and let it dry before going back to add more detail.  Don't forget the eyes of the brown pelican can be Cerulean blue!

 The Fish houses and docks need to look weathered.  New boats and docks never make for good paintings except for loft apartments for NYC.  'Nuf said.

My contrast is to be strong here.  Unlike the back bank, the darks are nice and dark and the light details are crisp and warm.  Let the 2 hair brush go wild, but be sure it is fun and relaxed or it will look as painful as it was to paint.
The main shrimper will be my next focus.  I worked on it a bit and the paint is like butter so I will let it dry a bit before doing more.  I want my details to be clean and crisp.  I will carefully study my photos to get all the rigging right.
If you paint trawlers in the New England area, be aware the rigging 
will be different as it is for all areas.  

I hope your mind can paint along with my sharing.  It is important to imagine doing each step yourself before you ever pick up the brush.  If you can see it in your mind's eye and feel the emotion  and excitment of capturing a special effect, you are half way there!!

A painting is above all a product
of the artist's imagination;
it must never be a copy.

...Edgar Degas 

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