Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Still Life: Lemon

For last night's painting class, we worked more on rounded objects. This time, however, we didn't have a time limit. The purpose was to try to remember all of the different methods for creating a rounded object and to study the reflection of other materials on our objects. For this lemon, I had to make sure that I worked on the reflection of the background on the top of the lemon, the table onto the bottom of the lemon and the reflection of the lemon into the cast shadow.

The basic layout of the lemon was pretty quick (about 15 minutes). As I stepped back, I realized that the lemon was pretty flat (I was just defining the light/dark masses), so, it was time to work on the edges.

As before, I remembered the important points for the edges:

1) The darkest part of the shadow is NOT the edge, but just inside of it. The absolute edge of the shadow contains the reflected light and some greyness to turn the edge over.

2) The cast shadow looks flat if you don't add the reflected light of the lemon. This was a problem that I couldn't figure out how to fix, until Karen mentioned this to me.

3) The darkest part of the shadow is where the lemon actually touches the table. However, it can't be too dark or your eyes would immediately move to that line.

4) Use various greys to turn the edges over to get a rounded feel.

After paying attention to these points, the lemon had a more rounded look.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homework: June 27, 2010

Since the task for this week is to work on rounded objects, I decided that tea pots would be another good subject to paint. In this painting, I had to make sure that I got the drawing correct. So, I worked out the drawing on the paper using terra rosa so that the proportions came out correct.

The toughest part of this painting was to simulate something that I knew was happening, but I couldn't see it. In this case, it was the back of the tea pot. I knew that the back was significantly in shadows, but, looking at the teapot on my stand, I couldn't see the variation in greys. So, I modified it a bit to make sure that I got my rounded teapot.

It worked well.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Drawing Study: Yellow Vase

So, after my oil painting of the yellow vase this afternoon (See Homework: June 26, 2010), I decided that the drawing was pretty bad. Therefore, I took the vase, placed it at the same angle on my table and just did a standard pen/ink value drawing of it.

This is much better. The shadows are similar to what I painted for the vase, but the structure is much better. The neck is more vertical and even and the body of the vase is more spherical.

In this situation, I had a double-light which caused the odd set of shadows coming forward and going back.

I now need to figure out how to get the more accurate drawing done on the canvas.

Homework: June 26, 2010

As "homework" for my painting class, I needed to do some practice work with rounded objects. This was a vase that I found in a yard sale. Not too complex, but not too easy.

Well, there is a LOT to desire about the drawing, itself. The only thing that I can say about the drawing is that it looks like a vase. Outside of that... ick. The base is lopsided, the body is lopsided, etc.

However, the purpose of this exercise was to practice trying to get a rounded form. For that, I somewhat succeeded. I made sure that I used greys on the edges to have them fall back into the table/background. Also, I made sure that I linked my shadow areas and my light area with some reflections of the table added into the body of the vase. That seems to have semi-worked.

As noticeable, there's a lot of room for improvement, but this was a quick study.

Monthly Drawing for a Free Print

Okay, time to get more fans. Once a month, for the next year, I will be drawing a random name of one of my fans. This fan will receive an 8 x 10 print (signed) of one of the paintings/drawing of their choice from my Monthly Drawing Print folder. Suggest this to your friends. More friends who become fans (they have to tell me who suggested them) will aid YOU in the drawiing: one extra ticket. If 30 fans joined because of you, then you will have an extra 30 chances for the print. The print and mat will be mailed to you, free of charge. Let your friends know!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Classroom: June 22, 2010

Last night's class was all about massing (as usual). The time limit was 20 minutes and here's my results of that time. The point of the fast time limit is so that you focus on the essentials and don't get bogged down with the details.

In my case, I finished everything but rounding out the belly of the jug. I had just laid down a large white area on my highlights and was planning to then feather around it, so that it rolls back, when the time expired.

Class Notes:
1) When working on your painting, there are some definite steps to go through:

A) Mass out the general light area
B) Mass out the general dark area
C) Define where the reflected lights are
D) Define the dark area and place the core shadows, lost/found edges, etc.
E) Define the light area and place the highlights, edges, etc.

2) Consider the position of the oncoming light. The area at the highlight is the brightest. The area at the top of the sphere is the second brightest. Add grey or a grayish-background color will help the sphere roll back. As you go down the sphere, it'll get darker and darker where the bottom of the sphere will contain the reflected color of the table.

3) Always model the sphere first based on principle in 2. Ignore the reflections. Once the modelling is done, add the reflections. Don't overdo the reflections or you will lose the form of there sphere.

4) Colors closer to you are more pure (just like landscapes). Dark objects are darker as they get close to you. Contrasts are also stronger.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plein Air: Flowers in front of my house

Another plein air study... the flowers in front of my house. When looking at the flower garden, it's quickly shown as a mass of different colors. So, to practice my massing, I just laid down the basic colors.

This was a lot more difficult than I thought that it was going to be. I didn't get the rounded form values done correctly, so the entire area looks pretty flat. However, this was just a thumbnail and took about 30 minutes to get done.

I just wanted to play with the general massing of the shrubs and bushes.

Plein Air: Trees on my street

Now that my plein air workshop is over and I'm rested up, time to actually get some work done! Since the newest painting that I'm working on has trees, time to get some more study of trees done.

Rather than travel to different locations, there's no reason why I need to go anywhere. The street that I live on has plenty of trees to study.

So, tried to remember some of the basics: Don't chase the light, trees go greyer/bluer as they recede in the distance, separate the masses into light and dark, and the darker/colors are stronger as they come towards you.

This was okay... still need to work on the massing. However, it does look like a grouping of tress in the mid-ground. The main issue that I had was that I laid down too much paint. I had to scrape off quite a bit of the dark paint due to the fact that I couldn't lay down the correct value.

Next time, I'll need to remember that I have to match the color on my brush to the landscape before trying to put the paint on the canvas.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Drawing Study: Reeds and Rocks

More study of rocks. This drawing was based on a photo that my wife and I took when we were vacationing in New York. The lake that we stayed on was very calm and full of reeds.

I like the distinctive shapes of the rocks accent the vertical shapes of the foreground reeds. The hardest part of this drawing was to create texture for the rocks without darkening them too much. If they were too dark, then you wouldn't get a sense of the tall grass in front.

The part of the drawing that I'm not all that happy with is the cloud formations in the back. They are a bit distracting. In this situation, I should have created less clouds.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Drawing Study: Rocks

Been taking a week off from doing artwork and time to get back to work. Several paintings that I'm planning to do involve adding a lot of rocks. So, tonight, I decided to play with just drawing rocks (from memory).

For this drawing, I decided to work on the central set of rocks (middle of the drawing) based extremely loosely on a photographic reference. The main point of using the reference was to observe the angles of the rocks and how the light played on them. From there, I came up with these sets.

The rocks on the cliff edges (to both sides) are more vertical and tend to be flatter. So, assuming that the light was coming from the upper right of the drawing, I made sure that the highlights on the rock was fairly consistent.

The next part of the study is to paint some of the rocks and figure out how to make the sharp corners of them. Possibly a palette knife. Either way, I think that I'm going to need to do a number of smaller thumbnail studies before trying to paint the concept paintings.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Still Life Study: Pitch

We're trying something new for my class (taught by Karen Winslow of Winslow Art Studios): Not working on finished products, but just working on the essentials. The style is going more towards the methods that she learned from Frank Mason. In this classroom style, you are given a period of time to paint. Once the time is completed, the students follow around with the instructor to see how he/she critiques each painting. Using this method, the issues will be reinforced due to the fact that many of the other students will, most likely, have the same issue that you are having.

So, for last night's class, we worked on pitching. In pitching, you are essentially asking the question: What's in dark and what's in light. Is my background darker than my object or lighter? If I squint down, are there any edges that blend with the background (lost edges)? Are there any edges that stand out? Where is my brightest spot and my darkest spot?

So, we have two examples of a dark/light background. These paintings were done in about 15 - 20 minutes each. Not a lot of time to work on the details and fuss with it. On the left image, which Karen worked on a bit more to instruct/finish, my main issue was the edges. I had the shape correct and the pitch well done. However, I put the shadow to go directly to the edge. This produces a flattening effect. Karen reworked the edges by adding a grey-tone to the edge. This essentially "rolls" the edge away from you, rather than creating a flat edge. This was also true for the right side of the bottle.

On my second attempt (bottle to the right), we had 15 minutes to work on this. I was able to get the edges done correctly, but ran out of time when working on the bottle. This could have been solved by using a larger brush to quickly lighten up the entire bottle and then re-working the edges, rather than working from the edges inward.

Overall, it was a good set of exercises. Learning how to mass fast will help with plein air painting.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Painting Workshop: Day 5: Chasing the Light

Well, the final day of the workshop was tough. I was tired and didn't really feel like painting. So, in the morning, we worked on some landscapes thumbnails and worked with the issue of "Chasing the Light".

When working with the morning or evening light, you really have a very short period of time to lay down the masses. The sun is changing angles rapidly and, in our case of being a bright and sunny morning, the clouds kept changing what part of the landscapes were in light and which ones were out of light.

When I working on this massing, I did exactly what a lot of other artists do: chase the light. For my tree, I had correctly laid down the dark and light mass. However, I then worked on the foreground land and background mountains. When I went to work on my tree again, I noticed that the light was on top of the tree... so, I painted that in. I then worked on the road. At that time, I noticed that the light was on the right side of the tree, so I painted that in.... See the pattern?

By the time that I was done, the light on the tree rimmed the entire tree, the road was totally in light and the mountains were in light. So, Karen showed me that you define the light position by massing ALL of the scene objects in the beginning (separate the large masses into light and dark). From there, you are not allowed to touch the masses. You are only allowed to define the area in the masses, so as to not break up the masses and confuse the painting.

The painting should work as a whole, rather than as jigsaw pieces.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Drawing Study: Bonsai

Haven't done a drawing study in a while, so needed to get to work on it tonight. The point of my drawing studies are to make sure that I don't get "rusty" and lose the ability to draw accurately. For my paintings, drawing is a crucial element of the painting.

Tonight, went through some old pictures and found this interesting bonsai tree that I found on the internet. So, decided that it was a nice and complex study of tree limbs and foliage.

Overall, I like the drawing. The shadows on the topmost foliage could be done better (to give it more of a rounded look) and the tree trunk could use some highlights to give it a little more dimension. However, as a study, it works out well. The drawing looks like a bonsai tree.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Painting Workshop: Day 4: Afternoon Tree

For the afternoon, I worked on this beautiful tree that I saw in Underhill, Vermont. The main reason for working on the tree was because it was a complex scene and I could see how well I remembered my "massing" notes.

So, I massed out the basic values like I normally would. I noticed that the area behind the tree contained a lot of trees that were fairly bright. I also remembered that, if I put full detail on the trees and did them as bright as I thought they were, they would look like they are coming forward in front of my main focal point. So, I just added more blue to their structure and then blended them out so that you knew that they were trees, but not distinct enough to make your eyes focus on them.

The longest time took on modelling the tree. Both Karen and Jack reminded me that a tree is a study of greys with hints of reds, browns, and blues/violets at various points. So, I laid down my base mass of the tree in various levels of pure grey. From there, I added some color on different parts to give it texture and interest. However, I made sure that I didn't break up the underlying mass and that the drawing of the various areas of the tree were correct.

For the foreground, I added some warmth near the bottom to bring the bottom of the picture plane closer to me. The part that Karen pointed out was that I needed to combine all of the dark shapes at the base of the grass into a single shape, rather than a lot of dots.

Painting Workshop: Day 4: After the rain

After the rain. During my painting workshop, it finally stopped raining, but the cloudy/damp weather was still here to stay. So, the next thumbnail (4 x 5) that I worked on was the drive into Cambridge, Vermont.

As you can see the background mountain is totally occluded due to the cloudy weather. There is the standard progression of light to dark (from rear to front) with the center tree (in the foreground) being the darkest. I also altered my standards for doing grass to show the variations in the grass.

When doing this painting, there are two parts that I was not doing correctly. The first part was the shadows of the background trees. To give the trees some texture, I applied the shadows as dots. As Karen pointed out, the dots were too distracting. Therefore, she took my brush and smoothed out the entire dark section. This linked the darks into a continuous path.

For the foreground, Jack noticed that there isn't a lot of texture. You need to add some texture to the foreground so that the viewer gets the feel that he is standing at the scene. So, he added some grass and bushes. In that situation, Jack painted the sides of the bushes first, then did the shadows, and finally added the top planes (highlights). This helped give the painting some depth.

Painting Workshop: Day 4: Rainy Morning

This morning, it was raining. Not the best weather for painting outdoors. However, at the Boyden farms, they were kind enough to let us paint under their large gazebo. So, it was a good time to practice atmospheric effects.

I think that I'm starting to get it. Now, let's see if I can remember it. In this painting, I knew that the mountains in the background were the farthest away and under rainy clouds. So, they are barely there. Then you have the mountain of trees in front of it. I added more of the grey/blue sky color to the trees to make sure that it was in front of the rear mountain, but behind the middle set of trees. I kept this progression up.

The main area that I got stuck on was the trees to the left. I knew that the back tree could not be darker than the foreground area underneath the closest tree. I thought that they were the same. So, taking into account what Karen and Jack said, I put my thumbs over the light area of these trees. Lo and Behold! The area under the closest tree is a hair darker. So, I made sure that I followed that value.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Painting Workshop: Day 3: Massing

Today's exercise was about massing. One of the basic tenets that Karen and Jack teach about is to not draw each landscape piece individually. Rather, separate your painting into the dark and light areas.

The point is to create large masses of values. This can be done by squinting or looking through a colored piece of glass. In addition to massing, you still need to apply the rules that were present in the first two days.

So, rather than do a large painting (8 x 10), I worked on my thumbnail size painting again. This helped me forego the detail work and pay attention strictly to the mass shapes and their values. In this case, I first laid down the sky, then brought the color into the furthest mountain. From there, brought some of the color into the farthest treeline, but started adding more greens. The bushes in the front were done with less of the sky color and more of the green/light colors to bring them forward. When I had all of the masses laid down, it was a matter of playing with the values to bring the bright bushes forward and the darker trees to the rear.

Overall, this was a good study and worked out well.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Painting Workshop: Day 2: Color Mixing

Towards the afternoon, we worked on color mixing. As before, the basics tend to use mixtures of greys and white/blacks to modulate the chromatic intensity. So, we mixed up seven levels of grey. For me, I'm just using my five levels of grey and tubed them. In the field, I will add a bit more white, black or other grey to shift my grey to the correct value.

When tinting/modulating color, if you want to maintain the same chroma, remember to only use white or black. These will not affect the color of your paints. If you use a complementary, you are actually shifting the color to another different color.

For violets, mixing Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Deep tends to create a great purple. However, you want to make sure that the color is more bluish. To test this out, just add some white and see if the lightest value tends to be more red or blue. We want more blue so that we can use it for atmospheric effects.

For reds, tinting Terra Rosa produces a nice set of warm reds. For the cool side, you can add a little bit of Alizarin Crimson.

For the greens, I mixed/tubed three basic greens:

Light green: Lots of Cadmium Yellow Lemon with a very very small dab of pthalo green. Pthalo green is incredibly strong, so, you only need a small touch of it. Go slowly.

Mid-tone green: Cadmium Yellow Hue with Ultramarine Deep. To bring up the color a bit, I added a little bit of Cadmium Yellow Lemon. I had a leaf from outside to compare my color against.

Dark green: Paynes grey with a hint of Cadmium Yellow Lemon. This produces a gorgeous and rich dark green.

To create the other greens in nature, simply mix different proportions of the greens defined above. Now, these aren't the only recipes from natural looking green. You can mix a lot of different ones using various blues/yellows/reds.

An important point is that your green should go a long way. Due to atmospheric effect, the greens are usually modulated with some greys or blues or whatever your sky color is. Therefore, the greens that you create are rarely used straight from the tubes.

Painting Workshop: Day 2: Tree Shadows

Now that we've seen the basic shadows on a sphere, let's apply that topic to the tree. For this demonstration, Jack just made the sphere a bit more elongated and added a "tree-trunk".

From the previous discussion, we still have the same basic shadows. All of the shadows discussed earlier, apply. However, there are some new items of interest:

1) The top of the tree (rim shadow casted by the sky) takes on the subtle color of the sky.

2) The brightest part of the tree has the color of the light source.

3) As you go further into the distance, more of the sky color becomes the component of the ground. Therefore, to get your plane to lay flat, begin adding more sky color to the top of the plane and bring it down to the bottom of the plane. This will give the illusion of the ground receding into the distance.

4) Since leaves can transmit light due to their thinness, transmitted light tends to shift more towards red. The thicker the material, the less of the shift towards red.

5) Tree trunks are really grey, not brown. They may have hints of other colors in them, but they should be painted a grey with the colors added.

6) There are more sky-holes towards the center of the tree versus the sides of the tree. This is due to perspective. As you view the edge of a sphere the longitude lines tend to get closer together. Therefore, as you go towards the edge of the tree, the leaves from behind the tree tend to close up the "holes".

7) Sky holes should be painted at the same color as the regular sky. Although, in reality, due to the tree hole sizes/light bouncing around, etc, the holes seem to be darker and the tree edges tend to have lighter sky. Painting the holes the same color as the light area and you will find that the illusion of the center tree holes being darker will automatically happen.

8) For the most part, the leaves of a tree have a shiny part and a dull part. Therefore the top of the tree will tend to reflect the sun light. The part of the tree that is not in sunlight will have the color affected by the texture of the leaves. For the shadow side, the leaves tend to shift towards violet, blues, darker greens, etc. The bottom of the tree tends to shift more towards darker reds.

Painting Workshop: Day 2: Shadows on Sphere

Today's workshop went over the shadows and atmospheric effects on landscapes. For the first part, we took a look at a basic orange sphere on a green table. The background wall was blue. In this sketch, you can see the direction of the light (indicated by the arrow being emitted by the "can").

The parts of the image:

A) This is the highlight. It's directly perpendicular to the light source and is generally the brightest spot on the sphere.

B) The green table is reflected onto the sphere.
C) The light that is reflected off of the wall is bounced onto the top of the ball. This produces a light rim effect of color on the sphere.
D) The light that is reflected off of the wall is bounced onto the green table.
E) The orange of the ball is reflected onto the dark shadow of the table.
F) The darkest part of the scene is where the ball interacts with the table. This contains the least amount of light.
G) The shadow on the sphere has the darkest part of the shadow away from the edge of the sphere and the edge of the light section. This is due to the fact that the edge of the sphere also contains reflected light and the edge of the light section contains a bit of the incident light.

In this demonstration, we notice that there is a lot of reflected light that affects the painting of the object. Depending on the amount and intensity of the light, it may be quite noticeable.