Well, I’m going to teach an art class again — thought I was finished with that, but guess it’s in my “blood.” Beginning September 15 (Thursday) from 1:30 – 3:30, I will be teaching a class on how to compose a work of art at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center in Maumelle. This is a seven week class, and will include examples, critiques, information, exercises, and perhaps occasional homework. Students will use their own materials, as well as materials provided by the instructor. I’ve had many years of experience teaching this subject, both in high school art classes, children’s classes, and adult classes. A lot of the lessons will be based on the blogs I’ve shared on this site. Cost is $45, and there is a maximum of eight students so call MSWC as soon as possible, if you want to register (501- 851-4344). I’m looking forward to seeing you and sharing my understanding of composition and design principles.
I Always Come Back to Landscapes in Pastel
I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to do non-objective paintings, and they always turn out to be landscapes! I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to paint with acrylic or watercolor, and I always go back to using soft pastels! I guess I should just be myself, and stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.
My favorite subject is the landscape — could be Arkansas’s rivers, mountains, lakes, farm lands and fields, houses, bridges, roads, rocks, forests, majestic trees or their roots; it makes no difference. It’s what I love. At one time, I did a lot of plein air painting, but I haven’t done that in a while. Instead, I take my camera with me as I walk the paths of my home town or travel from town to town; take vacation trips to places like Charleston, Martha’s Vinyard, or Portland, Maine. I must have a zillion photos of landscapes that I want to experience in pastel.
Yes, soft pastel! It’s always been the easiest medium for me. I like to hold the stick broadside in my hands and be able to swipe across the sanded paper, or use the point of the stick to make drawing lines on top. The colors are there for me to use – I don’t have to mix them to get the right color. They are intense, dull, gray, brilliant, sizzling, and/or calming. I can layer on top of a watercolor or ink underpainting, or I can start with a hard pastel underpainting and dissolve it with water or turpenoid. I can use local color, complementary colors, or really intense colors for the underpainting and then layer other pastels on top. Sometimes, the painting just paints itself! What fun!
Here are a few photos of my latest pastel landscapes. I tried to show the mood of late afternoon/twilight landscapes — the time of day when everything is shutting down and the hectic, busy times are over. Time to go home and rest. I call this style “Romantic Realism” because of the emotional content. These paintings are part of an exhibit named “Where the Sky Kisses the Earth” that will be at the Searcy Art Gallery August 5-September 21. The opening reception is August 6, Saturday from 1-3 pm. I will be there; I hope to see you there as well!
This watercolor painting titled “With Strings Attached” recently won the Bronze Award at the Arkansas League of Artists Spring Members’ Show at the Cox Creative Center in downtown Little Rock. It is on 300 # cold-press Arches watercolor paper and framed to 29 x 37.” I don’t usually paint in watercolor, and this was not an easy piece for me to create. I saw the aprons hanging in a studio at the Arkansas Arts Center, and thought they would make a pleasing composition with some alterations on my part. I tried to create visual interest and movement by varying the colors, patterns,, and sizes of the aprons and shirts. It was quite a challenge! This same piece won the Wiggins award at the MSW Annual Competition at the Arkansas Arts Center and 1st place at the Stuttgart Grand Prairie Arts Festival in 2015. The show at the Cox Creative Center will hang until April 30.
Currently on display, one of my pastel paintings was juried into the Wichita Pastel National Show in Kansas — the same piece won 2nd place at the Delta Arts Festival in Newport this year. From April to May 11, I have 3 artworks at the Conway League of Artists Show at the Faulkner County Library in Conway. In addition, a charcoal drawing of my husband’s arms will be published in the Art Coffee Table Book of Arkansas Hospice. Date of publication is unknown at this time.
If anyone is interested, I still have a few copies of my book about the Argenta Historic District Available. Contact me through my website or on Facebook.
Let’s try to draw an imaginary country home using the concepts of two-point perspective. Here are the steps I used:
- On a large *18 x 24″) sheet of drawing paper, draw a horizon line and select two vanishing points as far away on the page as you can. Then draw the front corner of the house approximately 2″ tall. Draw vanishing lines from the top and bottom of this line to the vanishing points on the left and the right.
- Your imaginary house in this case will face to the right. Draw vertical lines to establish the length and width of the building. You have made a box similar to what we did before.
- On the wide part of the box, draw diagonal lines from corner to corner to find its center. Extend a vertical line through this center point and extend it about 1 1/2″ above the top of your box. This will define the height of the gable end of the roof.
- Connect the top of the gable with the vertical sides of the box at both ends, extending just a little beyond the side to make your eaves.
- Now draw a converging line from the gable peak to the left vanishing point. This is the top of the roof.
- What about the back side of the roof? To get this point, extend a vertical line from the right vanishing point all the way up as far as you can on your paper.
- From the left corner of the facing side, extend a converging line all the way up the left side of the gable until it meets extended line you drew from the right vanishing point. Make a dot where these lines meet — this is called a vanishing trace. Where it intersects the top of the roof is where your roof ends.
- Extend a roof line a little beyond your left house end to make the roof. From this point, draw a converging line to the vanishing trace. Where it intersects the roof line is the end of your roof.
- So far, you have made a box-type house with a gabled roof. You can make some windows on one side if you wish like you made windows in the indoor examples. Next post, I’ll discuss how to make a front porch, a walkway, and a fence enclosing the property!
Draw a rectangle 8″ high and 10″ wide in the middle of your large drawing pad. Draw your eye level a little above center so that you will have a lot of floor to play with.
Set your left and right vanishing points.
Close to the middle of your rectangle, draw a vertical line about 2″ long — this will be the corner of your room.
To draw the ceiling, connect a line from the top of that corner to the left vanishing point and a line to the right vanishing point.
To draw the floor, connect a line from the bottom of the corner to the left vanishing point and another to the right vanishing point. Do you see the floor and the ceiling now?
On one wall, draw a window and make sure your tops and bottoms are parallel — use the vanishing points. Draw the window casing as well, if you can. If you want, you may draw a door in the other wall as well.
To draw the floor tiles in 2-point perspective, measure off 1″ marks on the floor line from the corner of the room along the wall. Do this on both walls. You will have to extend your floor lines all the way off the paper in order to make all the tiles.
From each of those points on the floor line, draw converging lines to the vanishing points. If you do this on both walls, you will have tiles that grow smaller and smaller as they go back in space. You can darken every other one of these so that you can see the pattern.
I know this is difficult — I hope you understood my directions. Please let me know if I need to explain it further. We’ll draw a house in a landscape for the next lesson in perspective.
The easiest way to learn about 1 point and 2 point perspective is to draw simple open boxes above and below the horizon line (eye level). On the left of the example are open boxes in 1 point perspective – one is above the horizon line and one is below. We will begin with the box on the left (1 point).
First, draw a horizon line and a square above the line and a square below the line. Above the line you will see the bottom of the box; below the line you will see the top of the box (makes sense). Now, select a vanishing point on the line. On the top square, draw lines (orthogonals) from all four corners directly to that vanishing point.
Draw a horizontal line determining the width of the lower panel. Now you see a 3-dimensional box. But what if the box is open? Draw perpendicular lines from the corners of the bottom panel that meet the orthogonals at the top of the box. Now draw a horizontal line from those points that is parallel to the bottom line.
Erase the lines you don’t need and darken in the rear of the 3-dimensional box that you see.
Try doing the same thing on the bottom box in reverse. Sometimes you can’t see the inside of the box depending on where your vanish point is and how deep you make your box.
Next time, we’ll draw a box in 2 point perspective. By the way, it helps to use a t-square and triangle.
Well, I just realized that I had not posted anything about working with perspective — both aerial and linear. This is an omission my teaching career couldn’t withstand! So I’m going to write a few posts about this subject before giving up!
If you are a realistic painter, or just want to show some depth in your paintings, you need to know something about perspective.
THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PERSPECTIVE: AERIAL AND LINEAR
AERIAL PERSPECTIVE OR ATMOSPHERIC PERSPECTIVE: If you have drawn or painted a still life subject, you probably wanted to show these objects in space. It was shallow space, of course, but was still important. In a landscape, aerial perspective is most important, since you usually have a foreground, a middle ground, and a background. How do you effectively represent these different planes?
AERIAL PERSPECTIVE INCLUDES THESE ELEMENTS:
If you look at two objects in space that are similar, but one is farther away than the other, what happens? The one farther away looks smaller, lighter in value, lower in intensity, not as clearly defined, and may be overlapped by the one in front. Take a look at this example:
How do you know which tree is the closest even though the other trees may be the same size? It is larger, close to the bottom of the picture plane, in more detail, darker, and overlaps the trees and mountains in the distance. What happens to the trees and mountains in the distance? They are lighter in value, less intense, show no detail, are much smaller. The mountains in particular are low in intensity, appearing more lavender and gray.
Here’s is another example: In this painting, we know that the hay bale on the bottom left is much closer to the viewer than the others because of its position. Is there a definite foreground, middle ground, and background here? The foreground hill is more golden (more intense) than the three other hills as they move backward in space. It’s important to look closely at the natural landscape to see how this works.
My next posts will be about linear perspective — this is what happens when people start putting buildings, houses, barns, etc. in the landscape!
These are pretty much the last of the quotations I’ve collected over the years. I’m particularly thankful for those of you who have sent me your favorite quotations. Please feel free to do so, and I’ll add them to my book of quotations.
“The painter today has a choice: to break new ground and try to do what has never been done or to paint the uncommonly common in a way that reflects insights that are personal yet unique for anyone who encounters them.” Elizabeth Mowry
“That landscape painter who does not make his skies a very material part of his compositions neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids.” John Constable
“Great art depends on exaggeration for expressive effect.” Skip Lawrence
“Art is the proper task of life; art is life’s metaphysical exercise.” Friedrich Wilheim Nietzsche
“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” Plutarch
“Everything is related to everything else.” Leonardo da Vinci
“Form is the outer expression of inner meaning.” Wassily Kandinsky
“The gift is not the act of painting; it is the passion to paint.” Unknown
“Drawing requires no exceptional ability, only normal vision and a degree of coordination.” Nita Leland
I thought I’d start out the New Year by sharing with you some of the quotations about the making of art that I’ve collected over the years. They mean something to me, and may be meaningful to you as well. Some of these are anonymous (meaning I don’t know where they came from), and some aren’t. I have given the author’s name where I can. So here goes:
“Painting the verb, the act of doing it, is more important than painting the noun.” Gerald Brommer
“When you watch children paint, they are not concerned with end results at all. They’re just thrilled with the process of expressing themselves. I think all artists need to step back once in a while and remember to enjoy painting and not be so concerned about end results. Art is about expressing yourself. The end result is just a bonus.” Sandra Meyer
“Every artist should be afraid of doing a painting where people don’t do anything; where people don’t react; where they say, ‘Well, that’s a pretty picture’ and move on.” Dean Mitchell
“Landscape is a medium for ideas…the various details in a landscape painting mean nothing to us if they do not express some mood of nature as felt by the artist.” Robert Henri
“The whole fact is that art and science are so closely akin that they might well be lumped together.” Robert Henri
“Do not let beauty in the subdivisions destroy the beauty or the power of the major divisions.” Unknown
“Paint the things that mean the most…the things you’d grab if the house were on fire.” Unknown
“Never let reality stand in the way of imagination.” Elizabeth Grover
“Art is just another language for praying to God.” Unknown
“What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of the business of making a picture.” Robert Henri
MORE WILL FOLLOW IN SUBSEQUENT POSTS — WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?
First of all, I’ve had computer problems this week, so I’m late in posting this. I’m back on track however!
If you divide the color wheel equidistantly, you will have a triangle and thusly, a triadic color scheme. This becomes a highly contrasting scheme and could be difficult to pull off! You will need to mix two of the colors together to make semineutrals. Your scheme will be either warm or cool dominant depending on the intense color used. If done well, you will have an exciting color composition.
Use of the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) become a triadic color scheme, but some of the other colors are easier to work with. This first example is using Ultramarine Blue, Indian Red, and Hooker’s Green. These correspond to blue-violet, yellow-green, and red-orange on the color wheel. I didn’t use a lot of neutrals in this. so there’s a lot of intensity.
In this next example, I used Manganese Blue, Raw Sienna, and Violet. These relate to blue-green, yellow-orange, and red-violet on the color wheel. I subdued the violet and raw sienna, so that the yellow-orange is dominant. Which one do you like the best? It’s a lot of fun trying out these color exercises, not to mention how much you learn from them. If you’re interested in this, read Stephen Quiller’s book, Color Choices: Making Sense out of Color Theory. That’s where I got my inspiration.