Sunday, May 23, 2010

Notan Equals No Chaos

A few paintings I did this week. I feel like I gained some ground this week thanks to Bill Perkin's workshop. Specifically the concept of Notan - I already was familiar with the concept of ying/yang - black and white patterns to form a value structure but I never had a formal name for it. Sometimes something just needs a name to be fully understood. It cleared up my struggle with separating local color value from chiaroscuro. I also start each painting now with some thumbnails ... sometimes just one is all I need to map out the composition and the notan/chiaroscuro pattern. It's my road map. I recognize now that every painting that has fallen apart on me in the past was because I didn't have a clear value pattern and road map. The notan/chiaroscuro value matrix provides a visual unity to the image and cuts through the chaos. Just jumping into a painting and hoping for the best doesn't work... sure you get lucky once in a while and it comes together magically. But there's nothing magical about painting ... its planning, planning, planning!

My value pattern changed mid-way through the second painting as that bar of light moved over and hit the tree. I liked it better that way so I changed my plan. The great part about doing these thumbnails on sticky notes is you can stick it to your palette or on the edge of your block and refer to it if you get lost.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Landscape Painting

Still working in limited palette. I'm practically dying wanting to use some beautiful bright greens but still not ready to move on to a full palette yet. Did this one during one of my lunch time paintings of the Burbank hills. Been struggling with these lately but was excited with this one. Loved how the dark clouds were moving over from the right and how you could see warm light bouncing off the ground and back up at the bottom of the clouds.

Did this one over the weekend from my backyard. Need to work more on my shape design but I'm pleased with how I'm simplifying groups of shapes and creating depth with foreground/background elements.

I'm currently reading Richard Schmid's Alla Prima book. It's been helping me a lot. He talks about how Value, color and edges are inter-related - that one will inform the other. For example - that the sharper edges are usually also areas of biggest value contrast. This was a big mind-opener for me that I don't have to concentrate on each individual element, that I can find one and it will inform the other. He also talks about how painting evolved from the idea where you had to know what you were painting to paint it to painting something based on its appearance - concentrating not on what you are painting but the abstract shapes, colors and edges that make the form. It has allowed me to let go of my assumptions of what I think something is and focus simple shapes, colors ect. Also squinting to see edges as well as values has been really useful.

Looking forward to taking a painting workshop with Bill Perkins this weekend and learning more.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beep Beep Beep.... Backing up the Painting Dump Truck

Been doing a lot a painting, finally got around to posting. These are all limited palette. Want to keep it simple and focus on the basics. Just using alzarin crimson, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre watercolor with titanium white gouache for tinting.

This is a master study I did of one of Erick Tiemens paintings.
It's pretty maddening trying to figure how he's laying down his
brushstrokes. Need to do more master studies,
I feel like they are helping

Did this on Sunday - near my mailbox at home

I've also taken to painting at lunch - it's been a real
challenge - one in finding subject matter to paint close
enough to work where I'm not spending half my lunch
break getting there and two in actually painting it in less
than an hour - For a chronic dilly dallyer its been
agonizing but it is forcing me to make decisions fast
and get it down. They are only sketches but I think the
speed is forcing me to get faster and think on my toes.
I literally run out the office door, grab my paint out of
my car and look for the first and closest available
subject that has halfway good lighting and a
somewhat interesting value pattern and I go for it.
I clean up my edges a little when I get home at night
but for the most part these took less than an hour to do.
It does suck when I forget something as in the case
today when I forgot my watercolor block and had to
use an Urban Outfitters bag. I spared posting some of
the really stinky ones - those are for me to figure
out what went wrong.

Did these two at Erick Tiemens workshop