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!
Knowing about how to use linear perspective doesn’t mean that you have to be a slave to it. Using the principles of perspective in drawings and paintings that include buildings, posts, roads, etc. can become an internal knowledge that makes your artwork more realistic. However, some artists like to distort reality and in doing so, distort perspective as well. De Chirico is a prime example of this. Some contemporary artists do this as well: (from Artist Magazine, June 2010).
But here’s another way to use perspective creatively — an imaginary residence high up in the sky! This drawing uses 4 vanishing points — all related. The vanishing points are on vertical and horizontal lines. Try this in your sketchbook to work out your “dream house”!
If you have drawn the country home that I showed last post, you may be ready to add an addition or a porch to your drawing. Hopefully you have put in some windows, and maybe a chimney using the same converging lines to the vanishing points. All you need to do to add a porch or extension is to bring a corner post forward and use the same vanishing points and vanishing traces to add the roof. To add a center door, remember to make the x from each corner of the rectangle to find the center, and then position the door in the center. Steps could be added in the same way. A walkway that is parallel to the horizon line can also be added as per example. To make the fence posts and fence, follow this sequence: Decide where you want the corner post and draw it in as a vertical shape. Draw converging lines to the vanishing points from the bottom and the top of the corner post. Establish the second post arbitrarily when you’d like it to be using the converging lines for the top and bottom. Now, make an X from point to point of the first and second posts. This determines the center point between each post. From the center of the X, draw another line to the vanishing point. Then draw a diagonal line from the top of the first post through the middle of the second post. Where that line crosses the bottom converging line is where to position the third post. Continue drawing the rest of the posts in the same way, and do the other side the same way. Elaborate the posts any way you wish, but you have fenced off your country property! Remember to add trees and shrubs to make it homey…
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 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?
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.
THIS IS MY HOME – an exhibit of my Arkansas landscapes in pastel and acrylic is currently showing at 1st Presbyterian Church at 4th and Maple in North Little Rock during December. A reception is planned for Dec. 19 from 5-8 pm. I hope you can come – would love to see you and talk about my artwork! I have over 20 paintings in the show, some early ones, and my latest works as well.
The split-complementary color scheme is just what it says: the complement of one color is split on either side so that it is a 3-color scheme. What happens is that one color temperature becomes dominant and the other is subordinate. Another way of looking at is is to select three analogous colors and then look for the complement of the middle color. In this way, a harmonious relationship is provided as well as an accent color that enlivens the composition. This color scheme is found in nature most often with the hues blue, green, and orange.
To choose your colors, ask yourself what mood you want to convey. Cool colors convey a feeling of peace and calm while warm colors could be used to show activity, vibrancy, brightness. One or two colors could be neutralized while the accent color is used in its intensity.
In my first example, I used a split-complementary scheme of yellow, orange-red, and blue violet. The analogous colors where used predominantly, and the blue-violet was subdued and used only sparingly. It’s a hot summer day!
In my second example, I used a split-complementary scheme of red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow. The warms are dominant, and the yellow is partly subdued. A night scene is suggested. This is a good exercise for you to try – let me know how it turns out!