Feb 26, 2015

Painting and Drawing Skills - Where do they meet?


Painting is working with shapes
No ruler, No erasure
Free Flowing lines and shapes blended on canvas.

Drawing means careful mark making,
Yes rulers, erasures and measuring are all possible,
But still there are lines and shapes . . . .

How do these skills overlap? Do they over lap?  I hear it said all the time " drawing improves your painting", but how?

My research took me to Gaye Adam's Alla Prima Workshop last week.  For 2 days I poured blood, sweat and tears into 2 - 8 x 10 canvas.  My first ever work with oil.  I was exhausted every night!!
My oil landscape - Pretty good eh??!!
But I learn things.  I learned a lot.  Drawing builds skills, the overlap is there.

1.  Yes, the most obvious thing is tonal values.  Not only recognising the values but understanding how they transition, gradiated or sharp.
2.  Relationships.  That is my descriptor. For me it describes the size and location of things. ie.  The shrub on the left is lower than the big tree mass, the tree mass on the right is just higher than the mountains in the background)
3.  Contour lines.  I know we all need to be aware of hard and soft edges but contour lines tell so much more.  They tell the texture of the object, the location (who is in front of whom) and helps create the mass.
4.  Negative space.  I really noticed with working in Alla  Prima that the darks went down first then lights added. Painting the negative space became so much of the task.
5.  Patterns or flow.  Again, my own descriptor.  Of course we can not draw every branch or flower on the tree but we need to search for the pattern or flow of the branches or leaves, seeing the shapes they make.  Partly working with the negative space but more.

Detail from picture: colours in the tree mass have a pattern and the sky holes are created through negative painting.  The edges of the grasses tell the texture and that the bridge is behind them.
6.  Gestures.  Of course you can not draw everything on the canvas.  Especially Alla Prima.  Get the shapes and placement quickly.  Capturing the gesture of things, gives size, sense of movement and more.  A very big part of painting and design.
7.  I am sure there are more but these are the big ones that stood out for me. As I work with my students, they will be things I will focus on.  My understanding has moved forward!!

We all learned a lot from Gaye
My experience was wonderful, the class was great.  I was very happy with my paintings.  A special thanks to Gaye for all her help and direction.  As I say, I learned a lot.
To see more of Gaye's work: www.gayeadams.com

Special Note:
Last Marketing Workshop this year,  Sunday, March 8, 10-3pm.  See Workshop/Private Classes for more information. Contact me to register.
Latest Marketing Point to Ponder on my page:  Does Social Media eat up your Time?  check it out!

Contact me to purchase my work.  Collectors enjoy a 10% discount on all original work.

Feb 19, 2015

Gong Hei Fat Choi - Happy New Year!!


Gong Hei Fat Choi 

The Year of the Ram - by Becky McMahan
Watercolour and Ink on Paper - 13 x 14

To celebrate the Chinese New Year I invited artist Becky McMahan to share with us her picture for The Year of the Ram.  Becky is a good friend of mine and I really enjoy her work.  She is an Oriental Brush Painter, working with Chinese Ink and Watercolours on Mulberry paper.  In the Fraser Valley, Becky's work can be found in the gift shop at Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens, Vancouver, BC.  I find it an interesting contrast to see her work to mine.  ( See my last post for my Bighorn Sheep, my picture for the year) She definitely has an Oriental flavour to her work which I find very appealing.

To Celebrate the Chinese New Year, it can't be done in 1 day!! The celebrations actually occurover 10-15 days depending on where you look.  We are now already into Day 2!  Not sure how that happened so fast. 

To Celebrate the Chinese New Year, it can't be done in 1 day!! The celebrations actually occurs over 10-15 days depending on where you look.  We are now already into Day 2!  Not sure how that happened so fast. 

The next few days, Day 3-7 are a time to visit with family and friends.  But watch out on Day 3, the evil spirits roam around so it is considered inauspicious to be outside.  Day 8 is often the end of the holiday for most people as they head back to work.  But there is one more really important  day - Day 15.  It is March 5, the day of the Lantern Festival.  It is the end of the Spring Festival celebrations and a time to set lanterns adrift on rivers, seas and lakes.  The release of the lanterns is a symbol of peace and good fortune.  I always enjoy this event, it is so lovely to see the brightly lit lanterns floating on the water or in some cases in the air!

Here on the West Coast, the Chinese New Year is an exciting event.  Over 4,000 performers and volunteers will be  involved in the Year of the Ram parade on Sunday. The weatherman is already telling us it will be a wonderful, warm sunny day!  Many other special events are happening in Vancouver and restaurants and stores are full of decorations.  With all the bright red colours it is easy to forget our gray, cold days of winter!!

So "Gong Hei Fat Choi Everyone"!!

Special Note: 
Last Marketing workshop this year, Sunday, March 8, 10-3pm.  See Workshop/Private Classes for registration and more info.
Points to Ponder: During February I will be adding weekly Marketing Tips to my Points to Ponder -Marketing Skills Page.  This week's topic "What do you do?"  Simple question but the answer is very complex!!

Contact me to purchase my work.  collectors enjoy a 10% discount on all original work.

Feb 12, 2015

Are you Ready for Chinese New Year?


No, it is not today,

but Thursday, February 19.

However, it is time to get ready!

Custom dictates several steps:
1. Clean Your House - sweep away the bad luck
2. Decorate with red, a symbol of good luck
3.  Complement your decorations with bowls of food, flowers and other treats.  Symbols of rebirth and new growth.
4. Appease the Kitchen God - offer him a sacrifice of fruit, candy, water or other food.
This is all to be done 7 days before the new year so it is definitely time to get ready!! 

 The Year of the Wood Sheep, will soon be here!!

Quiet Majesty - 12 x 16 - Graphite

Quiet Majesty is a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, part of a herd transplanted to the Spencer Bridge, British Columbia, area many years ago.  He is my contribution to the Chinese New Year.

Quiet Majesty gave me an opportunity to work on different ways of presenting a portrait. I wanted to really give a sense of his strong and majestic look but of course they are really a grazing animal so they are not threatening to humans. So he couldn't really look fierce like a lion. I really needed to play around a bit. 
The Full View shows the animal and projects a regal nature but seems to give him a sense of smallness. 
Moving in does help but I felt there was too much space around him. 

A tighter crop but still felt weak.
My choice was to move in tight and fill the space but off center to give a strong majestic appearance. I really felt that he commanded you to look at him.  But at the same time the almost symmetrical front facing view reinforces the contrast of his commanding look to his very quiet almost meek behavior.  He really is a quiet but majestic animal. 

Special Note: 
The Feb 22 Marketing Workshop has 1 Spot but there will be a second one Sunday, March 8 10-3pm. with Spots Available.  See Workshop/Private Classes for registration and more info.

Points to Ponder: During February I will be adding weekly Marketing Tips to my Points to Ponder Marketing Skills Page.  This week's topic " As an Artist You are a Celebrity!!"

Contact me to purchase any of my Work.  collectors enjoy a 10% discount on all original work. 

Feb 6, 2015

How to Build a Cat -- Beyond the Blue!!


Okay, so maybe you don't want a Blue Cat
(See last post How to Build a Cat)

You want a Real Live Cat 

with thick, fluffy fur 

but in Colour!!

Looking Back - 5 x 7 - Watercolour
Working with colours is only a little different from working with tones.  I highly recommend trying a monotone like my China Blue in the last post as it really gives you a wonderful feel of how to build and sculpture the body.

How to Build a Cat - Part 2
Step 1.  Have a good photo that shows nice lights and darks to define the cat
Step 2.  Make a light outline drawing of the cat marking in a few reference points: eyes, nose, important junctions.  
Step 3.  Set up your palette.  I used a palette suggested by Susan D Bourdet.  (I love what she does with her birds and flowers.)  The colours are: Burnt Sienna (BS) + Paynes Gray (PG) for a gray violet; PG + Cobalt Blue (CB) for a blue gray; PG + BS mixed for a Dark neutral gray; Core colour PG +BS + Permanent Rose (PR); BS + PR for the light pink areas; and Naples Yellow (NY) for the eyes. 
Close up of "Looking Back"
Step 4.  Mix a light wash of the CorePG + BS + PR and paint over the whole cat, saving your whites.  Indicate some fur bits on edges where it really fluffs out.  This would be mostly on the right side. 
Step 5.  Using a wash of BS + PR paint the inside of the ears.  When dry, build up the area to the mid tone by glazing with the same mix.  Use light glazes, it may need more than one to complete this. 
Step 6. Mix the gray violet to begin to build up the mid tone/dark areas.  Always watching how much of the area is midtone and how much is darker.  Each larger should be getting smaller as you move out of the midtones and into the darker ones.  As you move to the darks shift your gray into the darker gray with more BS to warm it up. 

Step 7.  You will need to repeat Step 5& 6 several times to build up the layers.  To get soft graduation build up with light glazing layers.  If you want sharper value changes put more colour with each layer.  (I prefer to work with the light glazing layers but that is just my style.)
Step 8.  Using a strong dark mix of PG + BS paint in the darkest spots: the nose, edge of the eyes, the spots on the ears, around the mouth.  
Step 9. The inside of the eye has a light wash of NY around the pupil. When that was dry I added a light wash of BS + PR in the lower bottom.  The shadow area in the top is a light violet gray mix. 
Step 10.  Paint the whiskers. (I use a bleed proof white watercolour which is quite opaque)

I worked each layer wet onto dry which gave me some sharper edges, when I was finished I took a wet brush and painted over the cat to soften the edges but still leave them visible.  

Hmm. .  Interesting! - 5 x 7 - Watercolour

In the painting "Hmm. . Interesting!" you can really see the layers of mauve that build to form the fluffy white fur on his chest. 
Have fun, painting your own cats and other animals.  They are certainly one of my favourite subjects!! (Don't tell my dog Rusty!!)

Special Note: 
The Feb 22 Marketing Workshop is full but there will be a second on on Sunday, March 8, 10-3pm
See Workshop/Private Classes for registration and more information.

Points to Ponder: During February I will be adding weekly Marketing Tips to my Points to Ponder Marketing Skills.   This week's topic "Can Artists Compete with Walmart Pricing???"

Contact me to purchase any of my Work. Collectors enjoy a 10% discount on all original work.