Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December Class Syllabus

The focus in December is on figurative painting. A figurative work is not a portrait. It is about the interaction between the figure and the environment around it.  A figurative piece has a narrative quality.  It can be about the light, mood or design. The figure is a prop in the larger design.

December 1st - Design Day
Bring several pieces of reference that interest you. The reference should have enough information for you to paint the figure, but you also need an environment in which to place them.  It is possible to supplement the environment with reference from a second photo.

The class will work as a group on black and white comps from everyone's reference. You will need drawing materials - pencils or markers and a sketchbook. Comps are the start of the design process, not the ultimate solution. Do a lot of comps and work further on those that are more successful. Always do design comps in a rectangle that has a specific ratio. 1:2, 3:4, etc. You cannot judge a design without related to the four edges of the design space. Work in large shapes of black and white or black, white and one value of gray.  

December 8th - Add Color 
You should have several black and white comps with good potential. Today, color is added to the mix.  Bring small canvases (5 x 7", 6 x 8", etc.) that have the same ratio as your black and white comp. Paint quickly in large shapes. Don't put in detail or worry about edges. Black and white comps deal with design and value.  Colors have value but the property of chroma or intensity is added. A larger shape of low chroma may not have the same emphasis of as a small shape of high chroma.  

December 15th - The Big Picture
Choose the best color comp and enlarge it to a full size painting. Remember, the larger painting must be the same ratio as the color comp. Start by blocking in the large light and dark value design shapes. Because the majority of the design decisions have been made, painting should go quickly. You can focus on paint quality, edges, light temperature, detail and focal point. None of these are enough, however, to make a great painting if you do not start with a good abstract design.

A few words about reference:

Your goal is to become an artist and that is not so much about painting what you see as painting your response to it. Find a subject that inspires you, has meaning to you - not what would have meaning to me.  This is your journey.  Look at you family photos until you find one that excites you.

Very few reference photos, if any, make a good painting as they stand. Shapes need to be rearranged, focus identified, oddities eliminated, composition improved, etc. Don't search and search for the perfect photo. You won't find it. You will create a great painting by the creative decisions you make.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Gauntlet is Re-thrown!

We have done this before and several of you took on the challenge.  At the Colley Whisson's workshop he re-threw the guantlet!  I double dog dare myself and all of you to meet Colley's challenge of painting quick still lifes.

What kind of still life? Anything simple. No more than one to three objects. Don't focus on the finish. 

Colley's take: Use large brushes.  Don't spend more than a half an hour or so.  Focus on the light and dark masses (light and shadow).

My take: Concentrate on juicy, accurate color spots. One for each plane - front, side, top, turning, up-plane, reflected light. Anything that makes one spot on the object different from another. Make the stroke ... and let it be. 

Relax, this is practice! They can be small, 5 x 7" or so.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Realism Show at Laguna Wendt Gallery in December

The Wendt Gallery in Laguna Beach is having a realism show in December.  

Upcoming Laguna Beach Exhibition
Champions of Realism
December 2 - 27, 2010

Open Reception: Thursday, December 2 from 6 - 9 pm

A group exhibition featuring works by:

Joshua Langstaff
David Gray
Bryan Larsen
George Gonzalez
Glenn Harrington
Cesar Santos
Peter Van Dyke
Serge Marshennikoff
Tang Wei Min
Patrick Devonas
Jeffrey Hein
Casey Baugh
Juliette Aristides
And More...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sonoma Plein Air Festival

Here is the application for the Sonoma Plein Air Festival.   Additional information and the artist's choice awards for recent years are here.

Please join us this spring for a week in the beautiful wine country of Sonoma Valley! It all happens at the 7th annual Sonoma Plein Air Festival, May 23-28, 2011. 
Application Deadline: January 26, 2011
Application Fee: $50.00
Paint on location in private estates, wineries and coastal locations. Our area is chock-full of vintage barns, Victorian houses and water towers, eucalyptus groves and meadows dotted with Valley oaks, rolling grassy hills and wooded waterways - Plein Air heaven. Commune with other Plein Air artists from around the country.
We provide complimentary lodging, maps, suggested scenic locations,welcome wine reception, many meals, ticket to the Gala on Friday, and much more.

What's That Twitter Feed

You may or may not have noticed my Twitter feed in the column to the right in this blog.  I link through my Twitter account to many interesting art related blogs and websites.  So, glance at it occasionally.  Today I linked to a new blog devoted to the teaching notes of Frank Reilly, one of the greats in American teaching of the figure.  It's good reading.  You don't have to have a Twitter account follow the links on my feed.  Just click on them.  

Here is a link to The Reilly Papers by John Ennis.

PS  Yes, I do talk about the weather a lot on Twitter, too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Usual Palette

Tsk, tsk, tsk ... someone asks what our usual palette is!  The full palette is titanium white, burnt umber, burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow light or medium, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine, cerulean or phthalo blue, viridian or phthalo green and sap green.  I'm about to drop the burnt umber and replace it and the burnt sienna with transparent red oxide.  Add the ultramarine blue to TRO and you have a cleaner, more transparent burnt umber.

Feel free to try Colley's palette.  There are fewer colors but they do get the job done. I missed the warm blue, though (cerulean or phthalo blue).  Maybe the sap, too.  You can mix a warm green with Colley's palette, but they tend to be opaque and, as you know - I love transparent darks!

Colley Whisson's Supply List

The medium Colley Whisson uses is Chroma Arcihval Oils Lean Medium. Dick Blick carries it. The medium contains an alkyd drier that speeds drying time between layers. This can be an advantage and a disadvantage ... so like all new materials and techniques, there is a learning curve. The quick drying time allows you to move through the stages of your painting quickly. It also shortens the time you can work wet into wet.

Colley paints with large flats (#10, #12) in both bristle and synthetic.  He also uses a #6 bristle filbert and a #2 or #3 synthetic liner brush.  As always, it's the artist at the handle end of the brush that counts!

His palette is Chroma Archival Oils in titanium white, light red ochre (Venetian Red in Winsor Newton), yellow ochre, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange, cadmium scarlet or cadmium red light, permanent alizarin, ultramarine blue and phthalo green.

Colley paints on a variety of surfaces, both board and canvas panel. The board was primed with amber shellac. The canvas was primed with acrylic gesso sometimes toned with a light wash of acrylic paint in red ochre. It does not matter what the surface, Colley is a master painter.

We will use our usual palette in December, but give the medium and larger flats and liner a try.  A substitute for the Archival Oil Lean is Gamblin Galkyd Painting Medium. It is slightly thicker in consistency but can be thinned with OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits). When using either, keep your brushes clean as you work, because the paint will set in your brush much more quickly than when working with paint alone.

David Curtis, "Painting with Impact"

I own all of David Curtis's books and never tire of looking at his art.  His newly released book, Painting with Impact, is a delight - both the text and images.  His paintings get better and better.  I recommend his book to anyone inteerested in landscape painting and plein air paintng.  He works effortlessly between watercolor and oil. 

Painting with Impact

These images are from David Curtis's website. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Kettleness Point

Gunnera by a Pond

Last Light, Staithes

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Earth Reds

Here is a color comparison of the earth reds.  Colley Whisson has light red ochre on his palette.  Archival Light Red Ochre by Chroma, an Australian paint company is made of PR101, a synthetic iron oxide, and is opaque.

Winsor Newton carries a number of earth reds, all made from PR 101.  They are all opaque with the exception of Transparent Red Ochre. (Click on the chart to enlarge it.)

Archival's Light Red Ochre leans to the red violet and WN Venetian Red appears to be the closest match.  Anything in this family will get you where you need to go.