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Monday, November 21, 2016

Stick to Your Values

"Tangled Up in Blue", oil, 12x12"
The dictionary says...

"Core values are the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action."

I hold many core values that have been defined by my faith and my upbringing. I try to stick with them in all that I do as a person and a citizen.

As an artist the concepts of value and color guide my palette choices. I try to always begin a painting with a small value study such as this one for "Tangled Up in Blue". (The tick marks guide me when I transfer my composition to my painting surface.)

I have a little trick I use to check my values as I paint...

I take a photo of the painting and use the mono filter to change it to a black and white version of the painting.

It is pretty close to the value study! Yeah! When it isn't, this trick helps me make adjustments. Notice how I added some highlight to the spoon.

Stick to your values in life and in painting!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Amazing Mistakes

"When Life Gives You Lemons", oil, 10x8"

"Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art."

~Neil Gaiman

When life gives you lemons... well you know the rest! I don't know about you, but I really hate making mistakes. One of the scary things about being an artist is how easy it is to make mistakes every time you make a stroke!

The painting above went through many stages and at least one big mistake! Take a look at the "mistake phase"  of this painting...

This was actually the block in phase of the painting. Notice how I used a lot of orange in the under painting of the gold cup and the yellow lemons. Made sense to me, however...

When I started painting I got carried away with the orange in the cup and it didn't work with the composition.

Fortunately, I was able to scrape off the orange and get back to the original and much better suited color composition. I also warmed up the foreground to make everything pull together more successfully.

Embrace the mistakes! And have fun playing with your paints and pastels!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mix It Up!

"Napkin with Pear", pastel, 5x7"
"There are always a myriad of color choices that will work in any situation, as long as the tonal value is appropriate."
Gaye Adams
Last week I shared my thumbnail value drawing in preparation for
painting. I could have made so many different color choices, but decided on a mostly blue composition with the complement of the orange pear.

Mixing colors can be surprising at times! Take some of the shock out of the process with the following color mixing exercise...

  • Use each color on the palette you commonly use or think you like. In the first row, paint the color straight from the tube. For pastels, begin with the most saturated colors corresponding to the 12 hues of the color wheel. In each subsequent row add a tint of white. See how light you can go!

  • Choose three primary colors from your palette and their complements. Gradually add the complement to each, making the color duller and darker.

    Next add white and the complement. Don't you get some amazing neutrals!?? 

    Mixing color need not be shocking if you understand the basics of color theory and are willing to experiment!

    Have fun playing with your paints and pastels!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Good Values

"Wonderful World", oil, 6x6"
"Value does the work, color gets the glory."
Richard McKinley
Why is it so important to have a good understanding of values when you paint?

1. Values describe the scene in three important ways:
  • Whether the subject has volume or is flat.
  • What kind of texture the surface of the subject has.
  • Where the light source is located, and how bright it is.
2. Values create the visual structure of the painting
  • The darks and lights of a painting do more than just provide descriptive information-they also determine its structure.

When you look just at the values you see the movement through the painting.

Take the time to do a thoughtful value drawing thumbnail before you begin a painting. This one to the right is very small and has already helped me prepare for my next painting!

Have fun playing with your paints and pastels!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

True Colors!

"Welcome!", Pastel, 6x6"

"All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites."

Marc Chagall

This painting was done as a demo for the Creativity Fest at Middlebury Studio School a few weeks ago. There is a wonderful community of artists there that have made me feel very welcome!

I  am currently teaching a class there that focuses on understanding and using color theory to make our paintings stronger.  This past week we reacquainted ourselves with the Color Wheel. I try to keep one with me wherever I paint and, even more importantly, I try to keep it clearly in my head!

Can you "hear" the conversation between the complimentary colors in the painting above?

If you want a quick refresher lesson on the color wheel, this short video by Bill Martin will be helpful.

Enjoy this colorful day!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Playing with Pastels: "Choose the light...

Playing with Pastels: "Choose the light...: "When our thoughts, at times, wander into darkness... remember we are human and have been imbued with free will to choose the lig...

Playing with Pastels: "Choose the light...

Playing with Pastels: "Choose the light...: "When our thoughts, at times, wander into darkness... remember we are human and have been imbued with free will to choose the lig...