Friday, February 22

What to Paint?

Passing By
Acrylic on Paper
Copyright 2013
A simple question. Not a simple answer sometimes.

Like the blank canvas or sheet of paper, the question pushes the artist or painter to select a subject or motif to fill up the empty space.

But what?

Maybe you're a portrait painter, so no question what you'll be painting, just who. If you're painting a series of anything, then you already have chosen a path to follow, at least for that series.

If you are in a good place, and as a painter I mean that figuratively--you've already contemplated this and decided what you'll paint, at least in the near future (hours, days, weeks?), then congratulations. That's half the battle.

But what if you are not in a good place? How can you or will select your next subject to paint?

As I have said before in this blog, simple things are usually the best. Don't over-think it.

As you go about your day let your creative eye act as a viewfinder and look for those great compositions in life that could make a good, if not great, painting. When you see what could be a  great composition, take a photo of it.

At the end of the week, you will have more than enough material to chose from, so much so that you won't know which one to paint first.

Today's image is my painting of an unremarkable intersection near here that nonetheless had good composition.

So, to the question, "What to paint?," the answer is--anything!

Monday, February 18

The Impressionists on YouTube

I have just finished watching the final episode of a three-part television mini-series, The Impressionists: Painting and Revolution, produced by the BBC in 2006. However, being a period piece, the content never ages, of course.

I actually watched each one-hour episode on YouTube over several days. Click here for an accurate summary of the series on Wikipedia. Although, if you're a fan of Impressionism like I am, you will probably want to watch it no matter what any reviewers say.

It's especially interesting, I think, to those of us who have read or studied the lives and times of the Impressionists as it brings to life on-screen the trials and tribulations of these now-famous painters in a way that cannot be captured in a book. Of course, if all you want to do is look at their paintings, then a good coffee-table book on Impressionism is the way to go.

Anyway, I hope you can find the time to watch this program. The easiest way to find it is to go to Google>YouTube and in the query box simply type in The Impressionists Part 1.

How did we manage before YouTube?

Wednesday, February 13

Living & Painting With the Color Red

Tomorrow being Valentine's Day, here's an encore to last year's blog on the color red:

Red is the color of Valentine’s Day.

Red is also the strongest color in your color palette, in case you hadn’t noticed, no matter in what medium you render your artistic masterpieces.

In pastel, colored pencil, oil, acrylic, and certainly watercolor, red grabs the attention of your viewer quicker than any other element you employ, and it just won’t let go. As my friend, the painter, says, “Red will eat you up.”

An old story in painting goes something like this:

“If you want your painting noticed, paint it big. If you can’t paint it big, paint it red. But if you really want your painting noticed, paint it big AND red.”

I don’t know that I agree with that strategy, but it is certainly true. Scientifically, the colors we see as red are the longest wavelengths in light, according to Wikipedia, but who cares about that?

What is important is how it looks and feels.

When planning your painting (if you are one of those painters who do that) keep in mind that your viewer will be forced to look at the reds, wherever you paint them in your painting. That is, if you paint something red, and it wasn’t your focal point, well, now it is. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.

I’m sure you’ve had this experience when mixing red: you’re using it to make orange by adding it to yellow, or perhaps you’re adding it to green to make a dark. “I’ll add just one more drop,” you say, and the whole thing turns red instantly! Dang.

Yes, there are cool reds, such as alizarin, and there are warm reds, such as cadmium red light, but remember, they are all still red and will act and react accordingly.

There’s no doubt, red evokes a mood, if not a response. When we see red (and I don’t mean the expression for anger in English) we usually feel something along the lines of intensity, vibrancy, action, heat, and WoW!

That’s the power of red. You can understand its connection with Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 6

"I Want to Paint Not Draw"

Is it cheating to use a projector? I have thought about this a lot.

I have tried all the methods of which I'm aware to apply a drawing to my paper (or canvas or board, etc.).

This includes:

- draw freehand

- make a grid and transpose the image line by line, section by section

- trace from an enlarged reference photo on tracing paper using a light box/table, then apply graphite on the reverse side, then flip over and transfer by re-tracing

AND, the subject of today's blog--

- trace an enlarged image of a reference photo using some type of projector onto paper (etc.) taped to a wall or, if you have a really good set-up, the projector may be hanging over your paper, making it easier to trace

Is this cheating, that is, using a projector?

I think not, well, not any more than using a grid or light box/table is cheating. Why?

Well, there are probably as many opinions as there are painters, and you know what opinions are like, right?

A professional painter I know said,"I want to paint not draw." And that's what I want to do, too.

That doesn't mean there isn't a place for top-notch draftsmanship in rendering drawings, and I do applaud and admire all those painters who can do that and who, it seems, also studied architectural design.

But c'mon, what about the rest of us? Please, just let me get my drawing onto the paper the best (and easiest) way I know how so that I can get to the main course, which is painting.