Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Syllabus Wednesday Painting Class - Colored Blocks

The syllabus for December is to continue ... most of you are working on painting projects of your own choice.  However, I will be setting the colored block still lifes up for the month and I highly recommend them to everyone who has not done them.  You will learn more about color from this than you ever can painting from a photograph.  If you asked my advice, it would be to do these. You need  9 x 12" or 11 x 14" canvas panels for them.  I will set a different one up each week.  Do one, do them all.  One week per ... don't labor over these.  Observe color spot; paint color spot.  It's an exercise.

There are several steps to the process.

1.  Quickly block-in the blocks on your canvas.  Draw them as close to life size as possible.
2.  Quickly make a single choice (or color spot) for each the side of each block and the background adjacent to it.  
3.  Cover the canvas before you go back and assess your choices or make any changes.  
4.  As you work compare each color spot to the one next to it by running through the three properties of color.  Is it warmer/cooler, brighter/duller, lighter/darker than the spot next to it?  Relate.  
5.  Don't jump all over the canvas.  Relate each spot to the adjacent spot.
6.  As you compare on your second/third/fourth pass at the canvas, make any adjustment you see.  Trust your eye, not your brain.  If the gray cloth looks alizarin-ish, add alizarin. 

Keep in mind two types of comparisons you are making.
1.  Compare the adjacent sides of a color block in the set-up.  Then make the same comparison in your painting.  So, in the set-up, compare the top of the orange block to the side of the orange block.  The, compare the top of the orange block to the side of the orange block in your painting.  Do relate the top in the set-up to the top in the painting.  Relate within the set-up, then relate within the painting. This is to this as that is to that. The goal is to accurately see the relationships in the set-up.

2.  Check the accuracy of your color spots  by rapidly flicking your eyes back and forth between the same spot in the set up and the same spot in the painting.  Quickly glance back and forth between the top of the orange block in the set-up and the top of the orange block in the painting.  What is lacking in your color spot will rise to the surface.  If your spot needs green, you will see it's lack as you glance back and forth.

So, relate this is to this as that is to that to make your color spots.  Then, relate this to that to check yourself.

Wow, see what I mean ... you need to do this exercise.  Because what you do in it is what you should be doing all of the time when painting from life whatever the subject matter.  This is why you cannot learn about color from photographs.  The photograph is not subtle enough to make distinctions.  It doesn't see them, so you don't see them.

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