As a person with an analytical mind and a nature for curiosity and understanding through logical process and detail, I have had to build the right side of my brain. That process hasn’t been easy. My nature is to crisply copy what is in front of me. And doing otherwise has been more than difficult.
Merging shapes, distorting ideas and color for the sake of making something a bit ambiguous is a process which must be learned. That goes for losing edges, creating color harmonies, assigning values . . . .all stuff which is outside of “reality.” For the person of logical mind, these things can be daunting to learn. But, if making art is the goal . . .and fine art at that . . . . .then they MUST be learned.
Someone once said, “Irritatingly precise – Charmingly incorrect.” I think that says a lot about making art that is magically attractive. Those four words hold much wisdom, I think.
The above process shows how a piece is developed to deliberately create ambiguity and hold a viewer’s attention. It is a terrific way to create ‘shapes’ that would otherwise not be possible via sudden epiphany. In this process (also see last post) the overlapping of multiple line drawings makes for serendipity discovery. And, believe me, it is confusing, but truly fun!
Meanwhile . . . my classes have begun and I am in that space of dreaming up different ways to show painters ‘how to’ and to help them capture new paths of thought in their work.
I am spending more time emphasizing the interrelationships of Content (subject), Technique and Design and how those relationships affect the mood outcome of a painting. Of course, I have been demonstrating different techniques to some of the classes . . . .recently, painting into wet or damp paper . . .to achieve different edges and textures of the paint. That technique, with variation, and the manipulation of value arrangements, color and edges can express many different moods.
In the paintings above, the drawing has not changed (except just a little bit, unintentionally), but dominances of intensity, hue and temperature have definitely changed. See how the emphasis has shifted from the top of the painting to the bottom? See how the process of moving from painting ‘things’ to constructing an overall atmosphere can completely shift an idea? See how limiting contrasts can affect the mood? And how the increase of contrast can move the mood, too?
Isn’t it interesting how such different feelings can be generated without changing the actual drawing?
Myrna Wacknov has a delightful new blog which is very instructive for all artists, no matter the medium. She happens to be an expert watermedia painter and is extraordinary in portrait work and figures. She issued a “November Challenge” which called for a contour drawing cut up with a grid of odd derivation then to paint it. I took the challenge and expect to have my painting completed toward month end (No point in rushing things . . . since I have plenty to do!)
So here is the drawing with the grid outlined in blue line (watercolor pencil that will disappear as it is painted). After hours of development of the drawing, the grid and getting it onto a piece of hot pressed watercolor paper, I stopped dead. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure how to go about painting it. I was stuck!
As you may know, there is much much more freedom to make errors with opaque media, such as oil or acrylic or gouache. Watercolor doesn’t provide such liberty. One needs to plan a lot in order to complete complex paintings such as this one. The best device I have found to work out of such a planning puzzle is to do value trials . . .sketches. And do more than one! I will complete nearly 20 before I make my choice of which plan to follow . . . .it’s called exhausting one’s alternatives and picking the best one for composition, mood and content. (Yes, it is much more than just a picture that looks like a photo!! Much, much more!)
So, here is all I could get done this morning before heading out of town for the day. I think there are 8 or 9 different ideas here. I used Tombo pens in three different values on a big sheet of tracing paper. I made a single quick sketch on paper, then traced it enough times until the big sheet was full. Then it is just a matter of concentrating on how and where the lights, darks and mediums will be placed to achieve different emphasis.
Click on the photos to get a closer look.
When you scratched, did you draw blood or make a wound of any kind? Obviously, not. Since you inflicted no damage, how much pressure did you use? In what direction did you scratch? How many strokes did you use? Did you use fingernails or finger tips? Did you satisfy the itch? Yes? If so, how did you know when you were finished scratching? When it didn’t itch anymore? How did you know that?
My guess is that we all developed this reflexive and second nature skill through tens of thousands of ‘itch scratching’ occurrences. In other words, a whale of a lot of PRACTICE ! You know exactly how to scratch and don’t even think about it much when you do it . . . right? Of course!!
Color mixing and learning about color characteristics and applying that stuff in a painting is much more than pulling the ‘right crayon’ from the box. It really is about understanding the color relationships you are building into the painting. It is how this color is going to react with the other colors in the painting.
But . . . . . . . How does one KNOW about relationships and how a color will react with the others next to it, away from it, mixed with it, surrounded by it etc? How many books have been written about color? How many opportunities to practice mixing different greens have you,( the artist), taken to fill reams of canvas or paper to achieve that “knowing” of when it is right. How many different colors on your palette are possible to use in the mixing of greens? How much PRACTICE have you put in to learn it? Are you waiting for the right moment when you need that certain green to figure it out? Or, are you developing the skill quietly by yourself so, when the need arises, you can deliver it in spades?
I am preparing a first time three day workshop on Color Relationships to be given in Murphys, California near the end of this month. 25 participants will be there to learn more about the utility of color, color harmonies and color relationships. At least, we will be able to put out enough knowledge to make any painter “dangerous” with color if they develop and PRACTICE their skills AFTER the workshop.
How does one explain color harmony? Comments anyone? What about color relationships? How does one explain that? How does one awaken the thinking muscle about color when one is the teacher? I have ideas and would be interested in yours. Drop me a note or comment. Meanwhile, our house is still ‘the gallery’ for open studio. I am cleaning house again today and fussing with details and more outdoor clean up to get ready for tomorrow.
I am sure you would be interested in knowing my right arm is under severe “twitch observation” since I have not been able to find a moment to actively paint. The twitch is from brush neglect! And it is painful!!
The first idea. But it needs development . . . .
The second idea is better, but the light valued shape does
nothing for the figure.
The third idea is better . . .much better, but needs simplifying to say more about the figure.
Finally, the figure is set into the right value structure to bring all the attention on it. After all, this isn’t about the surrounding scenery. It is all about the mood of the figure.
oil on linen on panel, 10″ x 8″