Thursday, July 26, 2012

What To Do With Green & Blue, Part 2

Daydreaming Walk, pastel, 9 x 12
This week in class we continued working from another summer landscape photo with mostly green and blue shown as the local colors. In last week's demo, I focused on breathing life into the local color and stretching those colors a bit with some other colors added to the palette, while harmonizing all color throughout.

This week was all about exaggerating. While I still got very interpretive with my color palette, I exaggerated the depth into the landscape by bumping up the contrast between hard and soft edges, while also increasing the contrast in the values and color temperature of the more distant trees to make them appear further than they actually do in the photo.

reference photo

One thing that always used to confuse me as a beginner artist was how other artists could get away with using bright colors and sharp edges far into the distance of their landscapes and soft edges in the foreground. These types of scenes seem to quickly draw the viewer far into the distance real well. But how does one break those rules that are initially learned regarding edges and how they're supposed to become softer as they recede into the distance?

That's where a well stocked artistic bag of tricks comes in handy! If you break one "rule," you must rely on another to compensate. (I actually hate calling them "rules" but just know that I'm only referring to generally accepted principles of painting and drawing.) So if you use a sharp edge in the distance and soft edge in the foreground, you must use some other "trick" to pull areas forward and keep the background pushed back. In my demo above, I used warm colors in the foreground to pull it forward, and increased (exaggerated) the value differences in the trees as they receded. I was also very selective with where I sharpened an edge and still kept the majority of the edges in the distance soft.

You'll notice from the above reference photo that I also recomposed the shape of the path for a more inviting    entrance into the painting. Since I had the path coming into the corner (something I don't usually do), I wanted to minimize the attention to that corner using the soft edges there and move the view past that area quickly to the sharper edges further in.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What To Do With Green & Blue

Soaking Up Sun, pastel, 9 x 12
For my pastel classes I thought we'd shift to some summer landscapes after several weeks of architectural subject matter. I think my students had enough straight lines for awhile.

The trouble with summer landscapes in the east is figuring out what to do with all that green and blue, which takes up most of the subject matter in a typical landscape. Sometimes if you're lucky you can find some color variation in the grass and trees, and possibly some colorful clouds in the sky, but otherwise, you're stuck with  getting creative with green and blue, and need you to reach into your artistic bag of tricks.

In this particular location, I did have some color variation in the grass, which I was sure to make use of in the painting. But I had to find my own color interpretation in the trees.

reference photo
Once I established the basic color palette I wanted to use, I thought in terms of warms and cools to pull forward and push back, which helped me to narrow down my color sections. Working from photos, I find that I need to exaggerate the difference in both values and color temperature from foreground to background in order to push areas back into the distance.

Composition of course always plays an important role in making artwork out of anything. You'll notice I shifted the placement of several items and avoided chopping off some branches coming in from the left in the photo.

Soaking Up Sun is my demo from this morning's class.

For our next class, we'll tackle another green & blue landscape and reach for something else in that old artistic bag of tricks..


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canton & Plum Tree, pastel, 12 x 9
Today we finished our series on buildings and structures in my pastel class. This last one (also from Canton St. in Historic Roswell, GA) had lots of foliage intermingled with the structure, so my goal was to be sure to harmonize the color between the two. There were bright orange flowers in the foreground, which I wanted to keep in my painting, so I needed to include some variations of orange hues in a few other areas. As long as I use a muted version of this color, and possibly a lighter value, it will still recede into the distance.

I think my students have had enough straight lines for awhile, so on to something else for our next few classes. Hmmm....what shall it be?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just a Touch of Sunlight, oil, 12 x 16
Rum River Glow, oil 11 x 14

Along with much of the US, the Atlanta, GA area where I live has been unbearably hot the past few weeks. Sooooo, I thought it would be a great time to break from the greens of summer, change up the color palette, and cool off with some winter landscapes. 

In Just a Touch of Sunlight, I wanted to capture the slight glimmer of sunlight on the side of the barn and the grass to the right of it. To get the effect I wanted, I found that I needed to add more grass to the foreground than what was actually there.

Rum River Glow was a piece that I did several months ago and set aside, knowing it needed changes. I talk more about that in an earlier post. I rephotographed it since that earlier post and was able to reduce the glare now that it's dry. 

Speaking of photographing oil paintings, I photographed both of these outside earlier today. I know that many artists prefer to photograph their work outside. I normally shoot my work in my studio with spotlights. I was always unsure if I could get even lighting with shooting outside. Since I just finished Just a Touch of Sunlight yesterday, and used some glazes, the glare was a big problem. And I needed to get a good shot of it today to make a deadline for a show entry. So today was my first attempt at photographing my work outside. I found it to be a great solution for the glare problem on still-wet oils!