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.

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