Thursday, August 30, 2012

Painting Without Edges, Part 2

After the Rain, pastel, 9 x 12
In my pastel classes this week we continued with "painting without edges" which mainly refers to getting things started in the underpainting stage, avoiding definition of lines or hard edges and massing in areas of the painting in a way that allows each area to gradually fade into the next area. To read last week's post, which explains more about this method, click here:

My reference photo was shot on a rainy, misty day with low, diffused light, which works great for this type of technique when you don't need a lot of sharp contrast.

Following below are some photos from my demo...

A very rough, soft edged block in using Nupastels.
Wet down with an alcohol wash.
Even as I start layering colors and adjusting values, 
I still keep edges soft in these early stages.
Once I get all areas of the painting covered, I start 
defining only a few edges that need it. 
In this case, the soft edges of most of the painting 
made a nice backdrop for the crisp edges of 
the foreground tree, which I defined in the later stages.
Completed painting, "After the Rain" on Uart 320 grit. 

The reference photo.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Painting Without Edges

Rounding the Bend Again, pastel, 9x12
After reading an inspiring blog post recently by Richard McKinley, I thought the ideas he presented would make a great class exercise for my students. In his blog post, Richard describes an approach to painting that uses very gradual transitions between colors and values. You can read his post here:

This method works great for hazy or foggy atmospheric conditions. The reference photo I used for the painting shown here was shot on a misty day with hazy, diffused light conditions, which was perfect for this approach!

I notice that many of my students struggle with overdefining edges that could be much softer, or even eliminated. So for my demonstration I blocked in the entire painting without using lines or edges. (I did VERY lightly pencil in a just a few guidelines for me to block in the shapes and colors I wanted to start with.) Any definition of edges used in the painting were gradually added at later stages.

Blocking in with a variety of Nupastels.
I kept it very abstract at the start, addressing only
 large shapes and overall composition.
I used an alcohol wash to wet down the underpainting.
Since my focal point is toward the upper right, that's
the only place I allow a few edges to start to be defined.
In the refinements here, I make small value adjustments.
Completed painting, on Uart 320 grit mounted to
acid free foam board.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quiet Solitude, oil, 16 x 20
Lately the majority of my blog posts have been demos from my pastel classes, but today I was excited to post this painting. I did a pastel version of this scene almost a year ago. As I look at that painting every once in awhile, I realize that it's become a favorite of mine. It's interesting how, over time, some paintings I grow to like more, and some, less. I imagine most artists have that same experience.

Amicalola View, pastel, 11 x 14
This particular pastel piece is one that I've grown to like more over the past several months. Not sure if it's the earthy greens I used (I usually have trouble sticking with the local "green" color), the graceful tree shape with negative shapes that didn't end up looking "machine made," or maybe the strong contrast of the vibrant blue mountains that I consciously decided to bump up a bit from the actual scene, but after looking at it for close to a year, I decided that it works for me.

Although I didn't achieve quite the same poetic look of the tree shape in the oil painting as I did in the pastel version, I still felt it spoke the same message.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Flower Power, Part 2

Happy as Sunflowers, pastel, 12 x 9
We're continuing with our floral series in my pastel class. Happy as Sunflowers is my demo from this morning's class. Sunflowers have such a vibrant yellow color that screams louder than anything else you would probably also have within your still life set up. In this case, I did indeed want the sunflowers to be the star of the show, so I chose the rest of the setup using darker values. To keep color harmony, I made sure to sneak in some deeper yellows in the vase and table surface, while also adding some of the cooler hues from the shadows into the sunflowers. In the finishing touches, I found that I needed to add even more cools into the yellows of the sunflowers than I originally thought. Otherwise the yellow areas just become too monotonous.

I'm finding that, especially with florals, I need to keep the initial stages of the painting as abstract as possible, and only "think flowers" later in the process. I started with a monochromatic underpainting of dark blue/purple using an alcohol wash on mounted Uart paper.

Below is an unfinished version of the painting...where I left off at the end of my demo. The finishing touches were completed after the class.

Flower Power

Front Porch Petunias, pastel, 9 x 12

I accidentally deleted this blog post from last week (rrrrr!). But I wanted to at least repost the image of this demo from last week's class.  We worked from a photo (shown below) and during my demo I kept my underpainting fairly abstract, connecting all elements of the same value in the beginning stages, separating them later with color. I used a monochromatic underpainting (dark blue with some very dark purple in the darkest areas) with alcohol on mounted Uart paper.

reference photo