Friday, March 6, 2009

More and Less

This little painting, entitled "Just Two", demonstrates the principle of "more and less" in directing the viewers eyes where you want them to go.

Our center of attention in a painting, (in this case, those two Hereford steers) should have "more", and everything else, "less".  Since our eyes are attracted to contrast, our focal point should have the greatest area of contrast.  We should probably think about having the richest color, the most defined edges, the most detail, etc. in our focal point.
Some things that those Herefords have in this painting are:
More: value contrast
More: sharply defined edges
More: color

Contrast this with, say, the tree edges, the tire tracks, the distant hill... all of these have LESS, and thus our eye takes them all in, but always returns to the center of attention.

Use the principle of "more and less" to aim your viewers eyes where you want them to go!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hope is the Thing

I recently read a wonderful little prose that keeps running through my mind.
I do not know the author, but it is a lovely thought worth sharing.

It's about hope.  And don't we all need more of that these days?  
Here it is:

"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the song without words all through the night, and never stops at all."

Somewhere, softly singing, barely audible at times against the din and roar of fear and weariness, is the gentle feather -soft flutterings of hope.  Feather-soft, but not fragile. For true hope in the heart is the fountain source of steely determination to go forward, to keep fighting the fight, to keep reaching for the good.  So, quiet yourself, and listen for the song.  

Monday, March 2, 2009

Upcoming Still Life Classes

 “Adding Drama to Your Still Life”    

Oil Painting Classes

Beginner to Intermediate

Jaffrey Civic Center

Thursdays, Mar. 19- Apr. 23   

9am- Noon

6 week session: $150

Week by week: $35/class.

Call 532-6527 to register

If you're tired of "blah" still lifes, then you may enjoy joining me for a class specifically designed
to bring some "drama" to your paintings! This fun-filled class will cover the basics of how to arrange your still life, determining the focal point, blocking in the main shapes, and painting the arrangement so that viewers see what you want them to see!
These classes will be offered at the Jaffrey Civic Center,  40  Main St. Jaffrey, NH 
You can sign up for the whole six weeks, or, just come week by week as it fits your schedule.
I want these classes to be fun, informational, and above all, valuable learning experiences!
Below is a full description of the class, and our weekly schedule.

Eye Openers 

Each class will start with a fun and fast “eye opener painting” – a quick sketch to help wake up our observational skills and get our creative juices flowing.  Get ready to look hard and paint fast!

Learning Points

In addition to our eye opener, we will have a specific topic of study each day.  I’ll talk briefly about a learning point related to still life painting.

Painting Demos

You’ll get right to work on your own painting, and at some point, I’ll offer a short demo for those who are interested.   



The last class will end with individual critiques of the work you’ve done, and you may also bring in work from home to discuss.


Class Schedule:

Class 1

Eye Opener

Learning Point: What’s the Big Idea Anyway? Concept.

Demo: Getting Started. Blocking in the Shapes.

Class 2

Eye Opener

Learning Point.  Going With the Flow. Keeping a Unified Light Source

Demo: The Anatomy of a Shadow


Class 3

Eye Opener

Learning Point:  On the Level. Remembering perspective.

Demo:  Painting grapes vs. painting apples.


Class 4

Eye Opener

Learning Point: Take a Hike: Creating a journey into your painting.

Demo:  Painting glass


Class 5

Eye Opener

Learning Point. When Losing It is a Good Thing: Edge quality

Demo:   Painting metal.


Class 6

Eye Opener

Learning Point: When It’s Just Not Working. How to troubleshoot your painting.


An Early Start

Today's painting is another small 4x6, entitled 
"An Early Start". I wanted to capture the feeling of that sparkling morning light, as these riders head out for what looks like an especially pleasant ride. I wish I was right there, but instead, am looking out the window at about a foot and a half of new snow, with wind chills below zero.

This little painting demonstrates a compositional
format known as the 
 "O" format. The dark shaded foreground with the trees on both left and ride sides form an opening shaped like an "O". Beyond this dark encircling foreground is the center of attention, and your eyes immediately travel INTO the painting.  That's the genius of this particular format - it really pulls the viewer into the "world" of the painting, and creates a real sense of distance and depth. The somewhat dazzling morning light (created by using a whisper of cadmium orange in every sunlit surface) helps to focus the eyes immediately on those riders... Oh how I wish I was right there with them!

Coffee and the Crossword and Chiaroscuro

Just for fun, a quick sketch of doing the morning crossword at the coffeeshop.  I kept it simple, and wanted to give the illusion of bright sunlight coming in through the windows as the patrons enjoyed their morning cup of joe.. 
About that title.. "chiaroscuro" (pronounced kee-ar-o-SKUR-o)  is  a style of painting where the shadows are painted thinly and transparently, and the lights are applied with thick opaque paint. Rembrandt was a master of chiaroscuro.
A simple example of this is found in the foreground figure.  If you click on the photo, you'll get an enlarged view, and you can easily see that the shadow portion of the central figure's face is very thin paint, while the side of the head facing the light is painted thickly with opaque paint.   In varying this application of paint, the artist gives a further illusion of  depth, and creates a slightly different plane on the surface of the canvas which enhances the feeling of space.   Plus, I think it is always quite interesting to see the brushstrokes of a painter.. those marks are the proof that a living person took brush and paint at a particular time and created a three dimensional image on a flat surface. I LIKE to see brushwork - I love to see how an artist pushed that paint around.  
Anyway, I think I'll go have my own cup of coffee now. But no crossword. Our local paper only comes out 2 days a week...