Thursday, February 23, 2017

Working Big to Small...

This idea helps me everyday, no matter the subject.
I painted the two works below with the idea of working big to small, using an economy of brush strokes and mark making. The green apples and grapes show a passage in a recent 11 x 14 painting. I worked out a color palette for the apples beforehand in order to keep my initial brush marks as fresh as possible. The sunset study is 6 x 6. I like this size for quickly capturing the glow in an evening sky. I toned the canvas with a pale yellow and used two different painting knives. These are great to lay on color and clean up is easy. :) A few preliminary studies helped me determine color palette before going out this particular evening. Sunsets are fast acting, so the practice work allowed me time to think, paint and start again. I managed to get this in a 35 minute session with an economy of marks with knife. As with any subject matter, close observation and memory are helpful during the process. 

Detail from 11 x 14 - Counted Brushstrokes Exercise - economy of marks
Sunset Study - 6 x 6 oil on panel
Progression of Figure, charcoal on paper

My class demo on the right shows one way I choose to work big to small. This method allows me to simplify form and rely on directional line, and larger shapes at the beginning of a work.

I start with intersecting line to explore and define the shape of the figure, height versus width. Tonal value comes next; presenting a more graphic image. This helps me establish spacial relationships within the figure. Once light and dark patterns are laid in, I can look more at the negative space surrounding the figure. This helps me check proportion and make adjustments.

Refinements come as I feel satisfied with initial shape, proportion and value. This is one way I can begin a drawing or painting - it works well and I use it often when questions arise. Focus on the larger shapes first reminds me to put aside the name assigned to a particular subject matter. In this case the figure is a closed shape with angles that are pretty easy to read. I can rely more on those identifying shapes, directional line and pattern at the start of any work. I also love the crop of dark hair on the figure. It provides a great dark pop in a key area of the composition.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the day. I invite you to visit me at 

Peace and Health all - 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Working on Visual Language....

Class Demo for in home studio class
It's the first of February and among other things, I'm working on ideas for classes. Practice runs with different exercises help me develop a visual language that I pull from when it's time to demonstrate and talk with students.

The doing is part of the instruction and my hope is that this provides a framework for students going forward. I share my thoughts concerning methodology - how I approach the start of a painting, or my take on brushwork and handling the painting knife - always fun. I work to convey language that clarifies process or information in terms of the physical effort. Maybe it's the Art History student in me, but my intent is to give students process and terminology for whatever comes next, painting, exhibitions, talking with patrons...Happy Painting Processes. This includes drawing, value and perception of form as shape.

I do this with full understanding of the time and effort needed to make art. It took me a long while to make good use of ideas like working larger forms or patterns in a scene to the smaller details that refine a work. Although I was taught the benefits of the grey scale at school, over the years I've come to realize how to see the scale of values and make judgements concerning the pressure to apply to pencil or stick.
Through trial and error I have learned to use the tools of charcoal to benefit a drawing. I've hit walls while exploring mark making exercises with charcoal and oil, but know the benefit of running vertical and horizontal lines to examine relationships within forms at the start of a work. I've benefited from color charts like those below - a real gift. They take time and yet save me waste of time and paint in the end. I can explore color and value process with a small study, which provides opportunity to test and plan out color schemes before moving on to a large portrait, still life or landscape. Let's face it...paint is costly and I value the material each time I paint or purchase.

Portrait Tinting Chart in oil

Exploration of how color informs another color - class material

Color Mixing Chart for Acrylics

The image below shows a typical studio day. I'm preparing two set ups for demonstration in my Thursday night paint class. The study on my easel shows acrylic on primed paper with focus on the smaller bunch of grapes to the left. I use cardboard boxes for set ups within classes to enhance the effect of light and shadow against some diffused lighting. The boxes work well and are easy to transport, and carry paint materials. I've shared this idea with middle and high school students, and have had productive class times using these as a learning tool in terms of how to create a space for still life. The students brought in boxes pulled from local markets and I supplied paint and brushes to transform the interior of the box. We used basics, black, white to achieve grey, with red to warm up the color as needed. Students go outdoors to paint the boxes, returning inside to assemble pieces for still life while the boxes are drying in the sun. The result has been a great painting from life process.

Detail of Grapes with Burnt Sienna for block in 

Studio set up - looking at demo for class with students

Below are demo sketches in charcoal that show application of the medium with pencil, vine and compressed charcoal sticks. Thanks for stopping by...I invite you to visit me at
Peace and Health all - :)

Pear Studies -  eraser, stump and charcoal dust, line with vine charcoal and tone with vine.

Basic Shapes set up for drawing from life in charcoal class

Grey Scale, value comparisons

Approach to Basic Shapes in pencil, demo

Demo mid-way through
- vine charcoal

Blocking in basic shapes, noting patterns of value

Mark Making Exercise/Demo for class on paper

Sketch for At Play - charcoal on paper