Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's all a Head Game

I remember the first workshop I signed up for that required I bring a canvas that was at least 18x24.  It was a portrait workshop with Michael Shane Neal. First of all, portrait??? Me??? That was already a crazy idea, because I had not been painting long at all and basically, well, was pretty awful at it.  But it was the size of the canvas that seemed the most daunting to me.  I had been painting so much smaller, 8x10, 9x12, 11x14... 16x20 at the most, and even the thought of jumping up to an 18x24 or 20x24 frightened me.
Summertime, 48x72

It was many years later that my husband built me an extremely large easel.  Suddenly, even truly large canvases did not seem so large any more.  Previously, when I put a larger canvas on my small easel, it had seemed overwhelming to me, but on the large easel the same size canvas now felt small.  I began by painting 36x48.  They felt tiny, so I tried 40x60.  They were no big deal either.  The latest was a 48x72 (shown below). Really, not so much different than painting small.

So here's your pep-talk for the day. Repeat after me... "I can do this. I am in control. It's really no big deal."  Now click your heels three times and DO IT!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Forgive me readers...

...for it has been 6 months since my last blog post.  Actually, I have created many of them in my head as I am driving here to there. They just never seem to get written.  Of course, by the time I get where I'm going, the thought is either gone or I decide not worth publishing.  At any rate, I apologize.

By now you have probably all heard about the Plein Air Convention in Red Rock Canyon.  It was truly, an inspiring event, and I cannot say enough great about it. The days were absolutely packed with guest demonstrations, presentations, lectures, and painting.  If you have a chance, try to go next year.  You won't regret it. 

Dawn Whitelaw and I went out a few days early and painted for the sheer joy of painting. What a treat.  Here is a quick study.  Much to improve on here, but you get the feel of the place anyway.
Red Rock study 1, 11x14, plein air
I learned a lot from observing these value relationships in nature. Let's look at the values.  Here is the painting in gray scale. 

See how the light and shadow pattern on the background hillside are almost one value?  They are recognized as distinct light and shadow for three reasons.  One is how relatively warm or cool the passage is; the second is how chromatic one is over the other; and the third is the use of edge.  

Try this the next time you want to describe light and shadow in the distance.  Mix two piles of paint, one to represent your shadow areas and one to represent the lighted areas.  Make the two piles within 1/4 step of each other in terms of value. Be sure that one of the piles is relatively cooler than the other. (I say relatively because no color can be labeled in a vacuum. It must relate to the other colors set around it.)  Make one of the piles slightly more neutral than the other. Lay down the two distinct areas of paint without regard for details within the shapes... just flat pieces.  Experiment with how close or far apart you can push the values and it still read as light and shadow. How close or far apart can you push the warm and cool, the chroma and neutrality?  Take pictures and view them in gray to see how you did.

Happy experimenting!