Painting with acrylics, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting – bright backgrounds and creating luminescence

Setting a challenge for yourself when you are learning to paint can be quite daunting. You look at a pear (in this instance) and you want to get out the yellow and the brown paint and paint a yellow and brown pear with maybe a touch of green. All quite normal, but as many of you will know if you want to play it safe the one thing I’ll do is set you a challenge to push yourself.

To make painting the pears more of a challenge I set them on to two very bright file folders (one is a light cyan and the other a pinky magenta) but painting he whole background in these two startling colours the challenge became to paint reasonably believable pears over the top and allow semi translucent paint layers to only partially obscure the under painting.

So not only was the re a challenge in eh compositional layout of the two pears on a stark background but also the play of colours between the two parts of the painting.

It certainly did prove a challenge and took everyone out of their comfort zones. But what happened during the process was truly satisfying.  This technical exercise took two sessions (four hours) and I admired the tenacity of the KA who certainly struggled as the painting came and went. She struggled with the form of the pear the strange affect of the pink and blue through her pear colours and the wetness of her paint for much of the two lessons.

However, there was a turning point. She stuck with it and turned her painting round. For the last hour of the session she worked back into all parts of the pear and the fore/background. Took risks with the colours she used, and took proactive decisions on the tonal properties of her painting. She even scratched into the paint to reveal underlayers of colour and I almost did a jig round the room when I heard her comment “Wow! That has made the painting luminous.” Well done KA.

I am not sure whether to record that she did later add that she wasn’t sure that if left to her own devices that she wouldn’t get out the yellow and brown paint! ……Just give me time, I thought ,and yellow and brown will have a whole new meaning for you 🙂 (See left hand photo)

Well Done KA – I am very proud of you. Keep at it.

Drawing Tips

Drawing: critical reflection on compositional errors

Possibly one of the most difficult things to do when you are drawing is to reflect on your own work. It is vital that anyone learning to draw learns to evaluate their own compositions.  The style in which you draw or your approach are obviously influencing factors in the aesthetic of your image but, however you approach your project there should be an element of realism to your delivery if you have chosen to draw from life.

IMG_6484 2

Constantly checking the still life (landscape etc) in front of you against the image appearing on your page is all part of realising a reality in your work. Even abstract work needs to have roots in reality to have a proper integrity.

Given that the ratio to looking at the still life set up to drawing is a minimum of 65/35 it can be easy to overlook small assumptions in your drawing.  After all we all know what an egg/apple/flower etc look like don’t we?

However, the honesty you can give yourself when critically evaluating your work will make all the difference to its credibility. Also mistakes in compositional integrity create a strange jarring quality even if the viewer has not seen the original set out of objects.

Learning to see and more importantly correct your mistakes (however far on in the drawing you are) will pay dividends as you progress. It’s very hard to say to yourself, “no that is wrong I must alter it but the end result will bring you one step closer to a harmonious and believable composition.

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Drawing shapes – re-seeing form as a series of shapes

Quite a task for a Monday morning!  We all hold a visual memory of an object in our head. We know what something looks like. If I asked you to draw an apple for instance, you would know that it is a solid distorted sphere with a hard often shiny skin. You might even add a stem for good measure.

The likelihood however is that when presented with an apple as a study piece you will see that an apple is less round than you thought. It may be wider, longer or bumpier. Certainly, the inner shapes in terms of surface pattern and light fall will be more interesting and detailed than in your drawing from memory.

I took todays exercise from Bert Dodson’s book Keys To Drawing available very reasonably priced on @worldofbooks.

The intention of today’s session was to help us see the form of an object through the shapes on it.  This called for an object which would trigger the “I know what that is” response. We spent 45 minutes on three drawings of a plastic toy soldier!

The first step is to draw an outline of the edges of the object as a single line before beginning to identify negative spaces, larger areas of shade before refining the drawing down into more tonal areas. The soldiers had to be dropped from shoulder height to set the placement. (no cheating allowed! This meant that, inevitably, the figure was placed in a non-familiar way so it would be more difficult to use automatic responses when drawing.

Repeatedly the comment was that it was very difficult “indeed” to look at the shadow shapes without labelling them as a leg, or shirt, or hat. As we progressed through the morning it became apparent through the confidence shown in the progressive drawings that everyone was beginning, more easily, to identify larger and larger areas of pattern within the figure and divorce these areas from the need to label particular forms. As an aside I noticed that the description of the outside shapes of the small plastic soldiers became more accurate with each rendering.

As a reward for sticking at it we finished the morning with a simple clothes peg. A simple and easy way to realise shapes in the shadows and lighter areas rather than through contour drawing.

Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting -Finding the right red for a camellia

What a fantastic Camellia tree in the studio garden, it is completely covered in big, decedant, waxy flowers in a riot of pint, yellow and glossy glossy dark blue green leaves. Understanding how those colours work together and how to create your own lucious, delicious pink/red to do justice to this flower was not as straight forward as it initially seemed.

I have a very natty little colour guide wheel (Pocket Colour Wheel 13cm. Compact Paint Mixing Learning Guide. Art Class Teaching Tool ) which I got from Amazon but I also have a colour pallette mixing book which covers watercolour, acrylic, gouache and oil paints.  It is throoughly useful indeed. I got it some years ago and cant actually find it on the internet but here is something similar on World of Books The Watercolour Painter’s Pocket Palette by Moira Clinch.

Using this as a starting place a suitable pinky red was selected, we didnt actually have the exact colour specififed so chose similar colours in terms of warm/cool spectrum adn started mixing. What becomes a little tricky is that there are so many vairiables…the amount of water mixed with teh water colour, applying wet on dry or wet on wet and then getting a consistent ratio of the two colours when creating the palette.

What did become apparent was that the initial choice of Cadmium red, violet pink, cadmium yellow, sap green adn ultramarine didnt quite give the mix needed when put up against the flower. What became apparent was the need for a more robust pink. We tried rose pink and alizarin into teh mix and then finally it dawned that the cadmium yellow would dull the pink down just enough and BINGO! we had it.

Creating our work strainght from life with observational drawing adn looking closely at the soft lost and hard found areas of shade and light helped bring beleivable form to teh paintings. A very satisfying demo and work from the the class was so productive. KA really was exceptionally brave with her brush strokes, painting from life bought rather than a copied image really bought her image to life. A very different approach from  her previous work: Well done you.

 

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, Uncategorized, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Drawing:Negative shapes help with Accuracy

Todays lesson began with four short drawings of some laurel leaves. 1 minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes and 12 minutes before taking the rest of the session to concentrate on the one drawing.

The focus of todays drawing session was to, initially, concentrate on the negative shapes made by the leaves and start to get to know the subject by understanding the shapes it made where it wasnt!

These quick fire sketches really help with hand eye co-ordination and hone observation skills and prepare your head to settle down and really get absorbed by the simple yet complex subject of a small twig with leaves.

The second string to the bow today was to use a simple measurement system to map out the image accurately to the life object. taking note of at what point a curve or space lines up with another feature. This helps to ensure that the drawing accurately resembles your subject.  Placing the subject overlapping the white surface also helps you visually tie the drawing together.

In the images you will see how the images still show the simple parallel and vertical lines which line up particular elements and help the artists capture the important negative shapes within the setting.  These help establish the form in a way which takes away our brains favourite labelling occupation.

 

 

Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, printmaking

Printmaking: Design Decision – Lino

Working through design decisions

Making decisions about your design start with the first quick sketch of an idea on paper. What is interesting though is that, even with experience, there are stages at which the lino design brings up problems which perhaps had not had to be considered in the same way at the drawing stage.

in the example here there where several changes by the student to the design. Note how the central area was removed and also the fishes head fin was hollowed out. This small area being cut in the same way as the back fins tied the front of the fish to the back and the removal of the central area emphasises the lovely shape the student has made with her design.

The key to good lino design is to make the best use of positive and negative shapes and keeping the design simple. This does not necessarily mean large areas of uncarved lino but the strength of a lino design often relies on its simplified representation of objects.

I like to ask people to look at other successful designs and to use these to inform their own designs.

The other key thing is learning how to cut the lino smoothly. Top tip here is to move the lino not your tool. Keep control of the end of the blade and keep your guiding had well behind the cutting blade.

 

 

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Drawing: Working with Negative Space

Working with negative spaces really helps you look and see what it is you are drawing without being drawn into the labeling battle with your brain.

negative space takes the labeling away

As usual it is easier to understand a new concept if you look at how someone else has done it before. We worked, initially from an example (google negative space drawing)

we used a simple tree outline and a directors chair. One of us was having a lot of difficulty with the concept of only drawing the spaces where the chair was not and not drawing the chair ,so we turned her example upside down and that really helped her labeling brain stop labeling!

I like to follow an exercise with drawing from life so that people can put the two things together and use the new skill transferabley. This is an important aspect of the way I teach.

We used the ivy above and, to make it as easy as possible, I drew a rectangle on the display paper so that everyone could judge where the ivy left the space and thus, judge, relative to the edge and the leaf shape, what shapes the negative shapes where. I hope that makes sense 🙂