Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review of PITW on Lines and Colors

Charley Parker Lines and Colors reviewed Portraits in the Wild yesterday. Here's an excerpt:
"His latest instructional video takes on the rarely mentioned but important concept of painting Portraits in the Wild. While it may seem to be a specialized approach, in that sketching people on location is more common than creating paintings of people on location, the subject has broader applications than are evident at first glance. 
Gurney’s instructional videos are often multi-leveled — conveying information about painting and the artistic process in ways both overt and subtle. What is on the surface a specific challenge of painting people on location carries insights into materials, techniques and artistic decision making that is applicable to a much broader range of subjects.”
Read the whole review on Lines and Colors
All the DVDs direct from the manufacturer's warehouse

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

High Country Caravan

The Paraceratherium caravans carry supplies from Simang to the high camps of Kangduk. From Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, coming out this fall in a new softcover edition.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Painting a Sunset Light Effect

(Link to YouTube) I want to show you how to paint a sunset light effect. I start with a watercolor sketchbook primed with a tint of Venetian red casein. It is OK to use acrylic paint or gesso for the priming also.

I paint the sky with white gouache. The darks are mixed from ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. All the shadows near the setting sun are part of a large gradation that transitions through orange colors into browns and grays.

Most of the painting is done with a 1/2 inch flat synthetic brush and a very small round brush. I ignore the actual colors and reduce everything to two values. The key to this approach is the intentional sacrifice of detail in favor of a larger light effect.
The tutorial Gouache in the Wild doesn't contain this painting  (which I did two days ago), but it has other gouache paintings done on location.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Weed Challenge Winners

I congratulate everyone who entered the "Weed Painting Challenge." You braved heat, mosquitoes, midges, dead rats, and (potentially) alligators. Some of you painted outside for the first time or experimented with new media. Some just stepped out in the back yard, and others returned to the location many times.

It was hard to choose, but the Grand Prize Winner is Nic Human. 

I was impressed by the attention he gave to the shapes of the petals, the orchestration of overlapping detail, the suggestion of depth through scale and value control, and the variety of greens.

He says: "This weed is called, Tithonia diversifolia, and it is more commonly known as the Mexican sunflower. I painted this in Pinetown, South Africa. It has become rampant in that area over the last couple of years. The big bright beautiful flowers are almost deceptive, because of the invasive nature of this weed."

"The painting media I used for this study were pen, travel watercolour and gouache onto cold pressed watercolour paper."
First among the five Finalists is Glenn Workshops who not only did a nice painting, but also returned to the site to do a whole series of studies.

He says, "My submission is of yellow hawkweeds (Hieracium caespitosum), a beautiful but invasive plant in British Columbia. It is painted in gouache on 5.5" x 7.5" Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press paper. The drawing was sealed with an acrylic gloss gel medium which enables the gouache to be worked more like oils. The gouache can be easily "wiped" using water with a brush or cloth. One benefit of working this way is that an area (or the whole surface) can be scrubbed away to reveal the original drawing when repainting is required."

"Keeping with the inspiration of James' challenges I thought it would be interesting to limit myself to sketching in a single location and study only weeds and their habitat for the duration of this challenge. A near-by vacant lot, overgrown with weeds, became my studio. It's amazing at how much there is to observe within a single field. Colours that appear and disappear over the course of a day, shapes and groupings that move and morph, the behaviour patterns of various plants, plus the insects and wasps tending to the plants. Below are some of the studies done during this month."

"This one has really helped me to get out more and push myself in different areas; a true challenge. Thanks James."

The next finalist is Greg Preslicka, who did a great job of value control in the large masses of foliage, setting up perfectly for the light pinks of the flowers.

"Crown Vetch (Coronilla varia), Casein, 7"x10"

"These are in full bloom here in Minnesota. They add nice color to most ditches. Found out after I painted this that it is considered an invasive species. It was introduced to the state for erosion control in construction areas. Now it is a little out of control. Kind of pretty though."

Ian Bosworth is our next winner with a lyrical study of an overgrown patch of weeds. "Hi, this is a spot at the side of my local reservoir. I noticed it when I was having a run around it." 

"There was a gap in the canopy of the trees that was letting the light flood in to this spot which was rather nice. First time I have used the umbrella as the Cornish drizzle started to set in I still got soaked through though."

Next finalist is Karl Wennergren, with a sweeping Swedish landscape.

"I chose to paint this field of Bunias orientalis. I set out to paint in the forest originally but right before I entered the tree line I turned around. What first attracted me was how the path disappeared into the field with a nice curve and I thought it would be fun challenge to try and simplify the weeds while keeping a strong shape design. Before I started painting I had to get rid of a huge dead rat that was lying exactly where I decided to set up and was attracting a ton of flies."

"Oil on canvas, colors: Ultramarine blue, Burnt umber, Alizarin permanent, Cadmium red, Cadmium yellow and Titanium white."

And finally, Pascal Miller found some weeds clinging to the side of a building in France. "Gouache & watercolor pencils 5.8'' x 8.3"

"I was in Valenciennes in the north of France, and spotted what used to be an old print shop. Burned down and abandoned for several years, it had a magnificent weed of some sort sprouting from the side of the building. I couldn't identify the species of  plant." 

"I started with a pencil drawing, used 3 tube colors plus white to try out a limited gamut approach, and then added a little texture with the water color pencils at the end."

Thanks to everyone for taking part. Winners, please send me your mailing address by email or Facebook mail so that I can send you your "Department of Art" patch. Nic, also please let me know which download you would like.
Weed Painting Challenge
Visit the Facebook Event Page (and click on "See All Posts") to see all the entrants.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Are Master Copies Clogging the Internet?

Painting copies of master paintings is an great way to learn. It's a good idea to produce them. But is it a good idea to post them?

Will the real Lady Agnew please stand up?
Have you ever searched for a famous painting and found a lot of other peoples' copies come up in the results? This can create confusion if you mistake the copy for the original.

The artist that posted the copy may have learned a lot by doing it. It might be a good copy, but honestly it's unlikely anyone else will be impressed by your work when they run across it online. No matter how good it is, it will never match the original.

So if you must share your master copies on the Internet, may I suggest the following practices:

1. Add a black border around the image area and write "COPY of [original artist + title] by [your name]." under the image.
2. Title the file name in the same way.

3. OR put the original adjacent to your copy and label it below. That way we can see immediately how the two compare, and no one will mind you posting it.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Harold Speed Discusses Grounds

Welcome to the GJ Book Club. Today we'll cover pages 242-245 of the chapter on "Materials," from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main topics numbered in boldface type. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

In this section of the chapter, Speed discusses grounds for oil painters. By "grounds" he means the prepared surface that you paint on.

Whistler, detail of oil painting (Source MOMA)
1. Advantages of a brilliant white surface.
Better permanency because oil paint always becomes more transparent with age, so a dark ground will show through and influence the painting in time. Oils also darken as they age, so if they're painted on a white ground, if they darken and transparentize, the two effects mitigate each other.

Disadvantage is that it's not always a sympathetic surface because it can be hard to judge values and colors against the bright white.

2. Recommended toned ground
Mix ivory black and raw umber to make a neutral color, thinning it with turpentine and applying it with a clean rag. Wiping with the rag gives an even tone and brings out some of the grain of the canvas.

3. Texture of ground
Speed says, "A perfectly smooth surface is not often used nowadays, although beautiful work has been done on it in the past. It is essentially the surface for very thin painting and high finish when soft brushes are used. The paintings of the pre-Raphaelites were done on such canvases.

4. What the ground should do
The surface texture should "pick the paint off the brush evenly without any scratchiness." And it should "hold the first touches painted sufficiently firmly for other touches to be painted evenly across them, without picking up the under paint unduly."

Speed complains about canvas manufacturers making prepared canvases with a slippery, soapy surface, which makes the paint slide around uncontrollably. A prepared canvas shouldn't be slippery and smooth; it should have a "bite" to it, a slightly gritty feel.

5. Coarse vs. fine canvas
A coarse canvas is good for large, simple masses of color—"the grain of the canvas breaks up the surface slightly and gives it a little movement, whereas on a smooth canvas, it is dull and lifeless." Beginners should start with a medium-grained canvas and then experiment with rougher and smoother options.

6. Absorbent canvases
Although paintings done on absorbent canvases may dry matte, the surface will absorb the oil, which tends to darken with time. Absorbent surfaces are suited to high key paintings, but they're not as good for dark subjects.

Dry, matte-surfaced paintings should be framed under glass, as dirt will settle into the rough surface of the paint. When Speed says, "Dirt is the great enemy of permanency in our modern cities," remember, he's talking about a London that was regularly blackened with coal smoke, and it really damaged paintings more than today.

Next time— Palettes
In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.
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