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!
I spent two weeks painting these six “word portraits” to take with me to the Delta Arts Festival in Newport last week, and not a one sold! Guess I thought others would like the words of scripture displayed in their house. I was inspired by my priest’s chasuble he wears Sundays in ordinary time. It says “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” across the front. At any rate, here are the images — the acrylic paintings are 11 x 14″ and I’ll sell any of them for $25. The embellishments are symbolic – at least to me! Might make nice gifts — who knows! Comment if you like them, please
DRAWING THE MOUTH AND LIPS
One of the most expressive features of the face is the mouth — it can express a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and emotion. Everyone’s mouth is different, so look for the uniqueness in your model’s mouth and lips. Generally speaking, however, the top lip is slimmer and more in shadow than the lower lip, because it recedes slightly backward. Full lips look youthful, while thin lips look older. The top lip has a little indentation in the middle and slants downward toward the edge of the mouth. The lower lip seems to have two ovoid shapes on either side. See example below:
Be careful if you include the teeth. You don’t want them to look like pickets in a fence. You can define an adult’s teeth by showing the gums at the top and a division at the bottom. The teeth are shaded more as they recede into the mouth. Children’s teeth are usually seen as individual, since their’s are not fully developed.
Be aware of the subtle shading of the lips. There is usually a slight highlight on the lower lip. Watch especially what happens in a three-quarter and profile view. Remember also, that there is some shading under the mouth. Since the lips protrude slightly from the face, there are several tonal variations in the skin and surrounding areas. So be observant, and practice in your sketchbook.
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
Hopefully, you are enjoying reading the quotations from artists I have collected over the years. Some of them associate the Divine Creator with the creative process. Some can be applied to other areas of our life than just the visual arts. Here are a few more:
“This is the real test of your emerging creativity–doing work that is neither repetitive of your previous work nor a copy of the work of others.” Nita Leland
“When your creative self calls, go with it. It is God speaking. Listen to your creative conscience, the voice of the Divine guiding you each day. it resides in your heart. Go there and roam. That is your true temple.” Lalia Copoechione
“The object of painting is to evoke emotion in the viewer.” Elizabeth Grover
“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” Emily Dickinson
“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other people’s models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open.” Shakti Gawain
“Follow your bliss, and doors will open where there were no doors before.” Joseph Campbell
“To me, the thing that art does for life is to clean it, to strip it to form.” Robert Frost
“Chance is always powerful. let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” Ovid
“Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation.” Thomas Merton
“All arts are derived from the breath that God breathed into the human body.” St. Hildegard of Bingen
I have a gang of these – thanks to all who sent quotations I didn’t have. Here are some more:
“You’re not a reporter but an artist. A painting is a statement of the heart.” Ann Pember
“I don’t want it true; instead, I want a beautiful lie!” Edgar Whitney
“The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.” Unknown
“In creating, the only hard thing is to begin.” James Russell Lowell
“If you are afraid of making a crazy mistake, then you’ll never get any bright ideas either.” Unknown
“A creative act is not necessarily something that has never been done; it is something YOU have never done.” Unknown
“Action is the fundamental key to all success.” Pablo Picasso
“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.” Andrew Wyeth
“You use the arts to see your soul.” George Bernard Shaw
“A picture is nothing but a bridge between the soul of the artist and that of the spectator.” Eugene Delacroix
“To work with nature as a poet is the necessary condition of a perfect artist.” Thomas Cole
“…it is the soul, not the eye, that sees.” John Ruskin
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle
Which is your favorite?
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.
The colors featured here are blue-green, green, and yellow-green. Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel present a very harmonious, related color scheme. One color needs to be dominant, another as subordinate, and the other should be in between. Lighter and darker values as well as their neutrals can be used. The colors you choose can express different moods – for example, colors on the red side of the wheel can express warmth, joy, excitement. Paintings in which the colors have all been neutralized can suggest a mood of a foggy, misty, or rainy landscape. In the study below, I chose to use yellow, yellow-orange, and orange as my three analogous colors. Yellow is dominant, orange is subordinate, and yellow-orange is the intermediate.
As it states on the left — use of analogous colors lead to a “harmonious but potentially boring” color scheme. As you can see in my example below, it would be much better if another accent color had been used — maybe a bright blue for interest! Remember, these are just studies — learning how to use different color schemes — don’t be tied down to them!