Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting Back to Painting

I have had a rather long break from any kind of painting, yet I have been teaching and have been learning more about my subject matter and painting. The strange process of getting back to painting is the fact that all of the ideas and images stay somewhat intact in the mind and the inspiration although often a bit changed keeps its initial interest.

I have just sketched two paintings out that have been on my list and sketched out for the last fifteen years and suddenly I know how to sketch them and have an image that is clearer than ever before. I believe the initial inspiration begins with an image but the skills and processes might not be up to the challenge. The image sits in somewhat of a holding pattern until the skills can catch up with the inspiration. I am painting urban scenes which I have never taken further than an initial stage. I am in the process of doing quick figurative sketches in pastels-they will be finished images that will be a basis for the larger oil if warranted. I also plan on painting landscapes from my trip. I believe the pastel sketch will open the door and work out the problems that might be originally awkward, in the past I would have painted a painting and worked through the problems on the canvas. I hope with this technique I will be less overworked and the viewer will have a starting place as well as several versions of the same scene.

I have always been a night and water artist but now I am combining them. I am in the process of sketching out rain scenes where the water is reflecting rich evening lights and am also including figures in the painting as well. It is a strange feeling when a totally different style and process creates itself and a new artistic outlook is explored, which brings me to the reason for the long hiatus.

I think the artist had preconceived notions of his or her own work and when the inspiration or approach strays from the original before the skills are up to the task, the logical and creative side fight each other. Instead of the fast and furious painting that usually occurs in the process of painting the inspiration and the image tend to fight each other. The same process I had when I learned from an artistic mentor, suddenly instead of painting by reflex I was thinking of every process and the process was slowed until the mind can put the two new process together naturally. I believe painting and  creativity are reflex actions and if you have to think about what you are painting some of the magic is lost. My zone begins when I don't even remember what I have written or my hand moves across the canvas as if it knows what it needs to do. My eyes and my mind don't even control or maintain the process. There are no questions in this zone and the painting pretty much paints itself.

I have sketched out two new paintings today and am well into another night scene that I started earlier in the week. When I start back to painting it usually becomes a fast and furious process almost to make up for lost time. I am excited about this series and will continue to blog as the series progresses.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's all in the details you don't see-those are the details that make an effective painting

We had a second class for the the next painting and the flow was quick and really enjoyable.
Our first process was to create zones out of the image-several areas of the painting were envisioned
as geometric shapes that were created and approached as separate colors and textures. The painting as I mentioned in the last post is a painting of a single leaf on water. There is not much as far as details to create, in the previous painting we could capture a region of the painting with detail and connect the areas of detail, in this painting the simplicity and subtlety of the image forces you to keep the transparency fresh and light and to capture the effect by the layers of each area we create.

The first task was to create a layer of soft blue sky which was not like the blue green of the water. Next was to put a dark line to denote where the bubbles of water were, this area created a definite division of value and contrast and allowed the viewer to see the sky above as a distance. The lack of detail forces you to exaggerate comparison of detail so the viewers' eyes have enough cue to know how far they are seeing into the painting.

Once we created the area of turbulence we blurred it into an area where the water turned more green and definite blue green lines created the movement, this again separated the turbulent area near the leaf from the depth of the water beneath it. This was the third zone and the layer to the left of the leaf was another area of bubbling water which interacted with the leaf.

The two areas that we are leaving alone are the leaf and the light above it- this last area of the painting will contrast strongly to the water around it and the light will glow because of the difference between it and what surrounds it. Again we are not painting the actual image, we are painting what reflects around the image and how the light reacts and the colors and contrast are affected by the comparison to the light and the leaf. After we are done with what the leaf is reflecting on and with we will further perfect the leaf and the light and either ratchet up the contrast or tone it down.

In the end complementary highlights will be weaved throughout the final image to lead the eye through the image and create the flow that make the leaf look like it's floating. The idea of this post is how detail can be seen where there is no detail and created out of the lack of detail. The changes must be in hue, texture and contrast which creates the depth and interest a painting like this might lack because of it's lack of detail. Next post will be about the subtlety of transparency and allowing the canvas to show through.

Another technique we did this time was smoothing of the paint with a paper towel instead of a brush, it softens up the image and allows the viewer not to be able to discern the difference as colors change. Another plus is the fact that the transparency is achieved by putting paint down and lifting most of it up-the canvas shows through and mimics the feeling of soft intangible light, something easily lost with using white which makes a more pasty feel.

This photograph is from and is a free wallpaper