Monday, August 23, 2010

Past Weekend Workshop...a little One on One

Was a little late in promoting a northern Wisconsin workshop...this year, but was more than happy that Steve Beaubien drove all the way over from far side of Minnesota...and I'd say we worked it pretty hard.  Giving Steve the grand tour of Strong Falls on Saturday, and Long Slide Falls Sunday morning ending with the Piers Gorge of the Menominee River in the afternoon.

Focus on values, composition and brushwork...walking sticks in hand, off we went.

Thumbnails...(rule of thirds, central divide, intrigue with variation but not distraction)

Long Slide Falls...morning view

Steve set up, painting at the base of the main head falls.  Pretty good hike in, carrying gear, but the walking sticks make it easier.

First assigned Steve to mix up three values, a dark...mid, light and white (giving him a 4"x 12") panel...and we painted a scene across the Peshtigo River.  The challenge was taking transitional halftone values, and assign them one of those three values.  

What it shows...even simply in this example (mine) that a decent sense of a painting and scene can be captured though having been so dramatically streamlined!  More importantly is an exercise in judging values.  Next we mix up one or two halftones in each value...thus the dark value would have two values added slightly lighter, but darker still than the mid value.  Same with the mid and light values.  These halftones create the transitions within their value areas making it easier for the eyes to move from one mass/value to the next.

An amazing amount of visual information can be suggested with such.  Here is a palette I mixed up for Steve...showing three main areas, the trees, rocks and water broken into their darks, mids, lights and white...

There are no halftones put out yet with these, just the basic three values to get the scene down.  The halftones come as a last step.  Putting them out ahead of time might get one sidetracked or ahead of oneself.  By creating a system like this, in no time at all one develops an instinctual use that becomes more intuitive.

This is just ONE palette strategy...value driven.  I also demonstrated for Steve the mother color or pigment soup approach, and explained the split-complementary which as an exercise is usually experimented with the last day or so of a five day workshop.  More an advanced exploration...

Here is the 8"x 10" quick demonstration then I did, same scene as our smaller 20 minute value studies, but with now the fuller palette laid out-

The other thing I like to stress in my workshops is the importance of brushwork.  There will be plenty of time for the artist to stylized, softer, spend time...but so many painters dab and dance their brush creating textures and marks that really are a visual distraction.  I teach that we should aim to paint in two or three brushstrokes what otherwise we might do in five to seven strokes.

A good exercise...comes from this video I have on YouTube-

Here was the demo...a 12"x 9" on linen, that I did at Long Slide Falls...and Steve had said earlier he was interested in seeing me do something with my old reddish-orange undertone...which excites greens of nature, harmonizes and pulls the painting together, and in general warms things up.  I decided I would also emphasize the essential brushstrokes in alla prima, that being..."a brushstroke laid, is a brushstroke stayed"  and will share a close up so you can see.  This blog post will also serve as a follow up for Steve (once again, pleasure meeting and working with you).

...and a close up of this painting shows more the decisiveness of laying paint down...

(*note- all images convert to larger view when clicked on)

A good brush handling cradles the brush between forefinger, perhaps middle finger and thumb, not holding it like a pencil...and making use of the longer brush handle.   Paint with the paint of the brush, meaning 3-4 strokes, then go and get more paint.  Any more strokes than that you should be blending or softening, but otherwise would be removing paint.  I hover my brush as though taking aim...and my hand mimics the direction the stroke will go before I actually lay it down.

I have posted everything you see here, for the most part...on but added a .gif animation of the steps to the painting above...two second intervals, which lets you see the toning, the wiping out, and the painting's coming together-

Here was the view of the lovely Piers Gorge of the Menominee River that greeted us in the afternoon's location...

and this 8"x 10" on linen was my last demo piece of the weekend...a bit softer touch on the brush and color.  We saw plenty of rafters too which was fun...

A grand time was had.  Steve is a member artist with eighteen other artists at the Blank Canvas Gallery in South Park Rapids, MN... Do be sure to stop by if in the area..!


Mick Carney said...

A first class post, almost, but not quite, as good as being there with you. Very good piece of instruction, thanks.

Larry Seiler said...

it was fun...thanks Mick