Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wild Color

Farm animals are a subject matter that brings joy to many people. It also can be an excuse to get really wild with color. For example, Roosters have a variety of color, usually very harmonious and fun. But also, notice I have not abandoned basic principles, like values. All good artists will always keep a sound value structure (also called Notan) in order for the subject to read well.

In the painting on the left, I have neutralized the background because there is so much color in the rooster, anything in the background would fight with the main thing, Mr Rooster (or the foreground). Also, the brush strokes mimic the direction of the feathers. Most impressionists or contemporary painters are not going to paint 5 million feathers--boring and not an exciting product. By suggesting, you invite the viewer into the painting to finish the process. By defining out everything, it is boring because I can see a photo by myself--who needs the artist. Therefore, by massing in the main body and softening the edges, you create the feeling of feathers to impliment the sense of reality in this bird.

Another tip on brushwork, keep the brush strokes large and loose whenever possible. Create a shadow even if it is not there. Drag the brushdown (or up) and away to create the whispy (feather feeling) on the bird. Of course, the colors on this guy were great. Ask yourself, are the colors (or strong blacks and white) interesting. Look and observe--there are subtle blue greens (I used Viridian) or burgundy (quinacradone rose is good) within this animal. Build in strong contrasts by making the background opposite the foreground. For example, if the bird is black, make it white. If white, darken the background with grass, barns, etc. Be sure and put dabs of these strange and unusual colors that are typical in roosters. Small note--have a leg up, adding movement as opposed to simply standing still. Can you have any more fun that this? Let me know if you enjoyed this painting or information. Next time I will show a portrait of a cow.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


12x16 Pacific Grove Iceplant Right, actual area

Reconstructing from nature is important when considering design- the interesting placement of objects and material so the eye can go back into a painting and enjoy and its unique characteristics. The painting Ice Plant, below , didn't look that way. In fact, you can see the actual landscape on the photo in upper right--not much to work with, huh? There was a big blob of ice plant on the right with a nice shadow but that was it. By making a path and having the upper left trees go back via graying pushing them into the distance, I created a much more interesting picture than mother nature gave me. The tree on upper right I pulled down, forward and enlarged it. I also developed a path so the eye would go up and back. In other word, don't be a slave to what is front of you. Move things around, push em back or forward for interest.
Paul Strisik was well known for this. He was an artist back east, died some 10 years ago but he would have a most boring bottom third of a painting before him and changed it to fit his design. One student asked me if it was okay to change the subject in front of him-not only is it okay but important and necessary. You are the creator in your painting--occasionally mother nature drops you jewels where you needn't change a thing, but that is not the rule. Enlarge, shrink, push back your subjects to arrange a better composition. The rule is have a way to get into a painting, leave and stay in a painting. You will have better art that way.