Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nov 6 - Aspens and Horses, 91.5% Finished

I got back to this one last night, and am glad I did. Jury duty didn't last but a couple of hours, once they said they needed people for 18 days and I told them I was self-employed, an educator and a consultant. I don't mind jury service--especially since they have free wifi in the courts, but three weeks out of my life would definitely impact my painting, lessons, and my teaching!

So, for teaching, let's get to it. Can you see from my prior post how many of those "fuzzy" edges have been found again? The artist's choice of which edges to leave soft (aka "transitional") and those that are regained to a hard status is what makes an artist's work unique. If you're not already familiar with John Singer Sargent's paintings, please go Google image him, and study his masterful use of brush strokes to lead and define the composition of his work. Wow. What a mentor for those of us looking to see edges handled by a master. And of course, there is the living legend in Richard Schmid, who reigns King of the Edges. He has a web site. But don't go away to it just yet.

In starting with the reference photo of the aspens, we artists have to make choices. If we paint to the photograph too closely, what we do is take that "match" for the fire of our creativity, and it is still a match when we're done. If we use that match (photo reference) as the starting point for our work, then the canvas can come ablaze under our hand. I did not stick with the reference photograph provided, but changed and bent the design to make what I hope is a better statement. One plein air artist I know put it well, "If you paint just what you see, you may not get good design in your paintings. God was planting bushes. You, the artist, might need to move a few to get a good design."

I've been asked, "Elin, how do you get such good images of your paintings?" So I offer the image below to answer that question. This was the image that became the one above. I take my work out into morning sunlight (not in shadow or under the eaves as some people would have you do.) I lean it up against something, and this is VERY important--with the canvas tilted about 12-15 degrees off of true 90 degrees to the sun. We visual artists need to SEE this, so look at the rock I put in the foreground, and see how the shadow isn't quite parallel to the bottom of the canvas, but "leans" a bit toward it. No glare, GREAT color, and true values.

Also note that the edges of the canvas are parallel to the sides of the image. That's very important if you don't want to learn how to "skew" and "distort" in photo editing programs. I know how, but prefer an easier path, so line up my sides of the work with the sides of the viewfinder.

My camera is a Canon digital, an ancient D30, but I also get great images with my newer Canon PowerShot A590. I've found it's not the camera, but the angle and sunlight that make the difference. Of course, I always photograph work without frames or glass.

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Color System information can be found HERE.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Nov 3 - Two Images of the Same Painting

Before you wig out on me, with two images of the same painting, let me explain. The image that is on the lower left in this post is the earlier version of the later one, which is on the right. I am showing you these two together for a distinct purpose.

As artists, we all go through phases and stages in our paintings. Some easier and some harder. I had a major "AHA" moment with this painting just after getting to the stage that is on the left (the "busy" one). Some of you will say, "Oh but that one is so much more interesting than the other one." There's a problem, though. It has gotten ahead of itself. It is TOO SOON for that much edge--that much "eye drivers". When I brought it back to the easel after photographing it, all those hard-edge shapes came together and started screaming for importance.

Now the scary part for some of you. I took a rag and wiped the canvas in many places, eliminating edges. You see, it is all too easy to get hard edges when we paint. I can always find a hard edge with a brushmark. It really takes some courage to remove them and then replace ONLY those that are necessary for the composition and for driving the viewer's eye. Softening the edges on major areas now gives me great latitude in placing edges where I need those "eye drivers". A sharp edge will always drive the eye. Now I can start playing with what's important and what isn't, knowing that these earlier layers make a great supporting symphony for the soloist, which comes later.

Will have some news about the upcoming workshops in the next few days...California and Georgia, and FLorida, too! But tomorrow I have jury duty (yeah, my number's up--appropriate on election day, eh?)

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Color System information can be found HERE.

If you need to email me directly, please click here.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nov 2 - Aspens progressing, and jury duty.

If you'll compare this image with yesterday's, you'll note that although the value structure has not changed that much, there is a lot more "stuff" in the darker areas.

I've come to realize a few things in painting so many pictures over the years--the more time I spend on the areas that aren't all that important, the better the end result in the painting. Some might say I approach painting by backing into it. Perhaps so, however this method of not even drawing the focal points until much later int he process has helped to make my work cohesive from edge to edge.

I am still completely in the cool boxes, and using mixes of three or more colors to create and modify the greens and darks that are going in. The yellow in the aspens-to-be is the shadow orange, yellow ochre. The bit of orang on the right edge of the group is created with the cool yellow ochre and cool alizarin crimson.

In design on this piece, the horizontal of the strip of lighted foreground will be related to the clump of aspens in sunlight, and their trunks will create the verticals necessary to connect the two areas.

On other news, I have jury duty this week, and am also turning in eight paintings for the "Off the Wall" fundraiser at the Riverside Art Museum tomorrow. They are small still life works from my daily painting days, and a couple of landscapes. These will sell for $100, $200 and $300 with proceeds going to support the museum. If I get called in for the duty, I'll take my laptop and update the web site. No wasted moments!

You can see my entire blog here.

Color System information can be found HERE.

If you need to email me directly, please click here.