Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Finishing Up

Though I was fairly happy with the results of the painting I did, along with Johannes' demo, I felt that it needed a few adjustments and some cleaning up, some in response to Johannes' comments during the demo, and some that I decided on myself.  So, above, you can see the final result (unless something else comes to my attention), and compare with my last posting.  I increased the sky and added some more top to the trees, cleaning up the sky-holes, lightening the blue a bit, and softening the edges of the trees against the sky.  I worked on the middle-ground bushes, adjusting the color to a more olive green, and bringing forward some of the trees.  The cliffs called for a bit of reworking, also - but not much.  I softened the color of the blue rivulet in the distance, and cleaned up the edges of the beach, adding some shadow under the edge and a bit of white in the water to define the edge.  Moving to the foreground, I added a little warmth to the color of the beach.  It got too gray as I was furiously trying to keep up with Johannes.  Cleaning up the edges of the rocks, I lightened the shadows a bit, and added some definition to the water around the rocks.  I think that this helps to keep the rocks from looking like they are floating in the water.  I feel like it is complete, but I will post it on the WetCanvas website, and see what Johannes says.  I'll let you know.  I'm thinking he may suggest lightening the brown in the water.  Let's see...

I put out a question to other artists on the WetCanvas site, about painting murals, and asked for any suggestions or feedback.  I received a very nice email from an artist, who just so happened to have also painted several murals in baptisteries.  He had some great advise that will help me out, and after I consider some of his suggestions, I'll let you know.  It is amazing that we can find people to connect with, through the internet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Painting along with Johannes

Hi,  Today Johannes did a pastel demo on the webinar.  I decided to 'take it up a notch,' and painted along with him.  Wow, it was a challenging experience in a lot of ways.  To begin with, since he was not aware that someone was painting along with him, he just dove right in, using the sketch he had drawn prior to the demo.  So, I was forced to paint, and draw, and compose, all at the same time.  It was also a race for time to try and keep up with him and his pastel color choices, as he quickly alternated between his colors. We spent about an hour and a half on this painting. Painting this scene drove home his suggestions and lessons, especially as they related to planning value masses, and using abstract designs, rather than painting small detail.  You can especially see this in the dark trees in the background.  I also learned a couple of fun things about painting water - and submerging rocks (though I'm not sure if they show up too well here). 

On a different note:  My church has asked me to paint a mural in the baptistery.  I will make an effort to let you in on how that is coming along, from time to time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reworking a Painting

I am currently taking part in a weekly webinar, hosted by WetCanvas Live, and taught by Johannes Vloothuis.  I am amazed at the quality of instruction, and in the fact that this is offered free of charge.  It's not difficult to be a ongoing student of art, with all of the options available to us today.

I have learned so much in just 4 sessions, and I am trying to put my new awarenesses to the test.  One thing that has impressed me, is the idea that (and for some this may be elementary), I don't have to be a slave to the photo.  I believe that I have made an effort to improve my photos in some aspects, but have ignored others.  One way that I want to make improvements, is to be more aware of composition.  I have, in prior paintings, tried to select photos that I felt had good qualities, and many times that encompassed having at least some basic compositional, positive qualities, but at other times I think I was taken-in with things like the colors represented in the scene, etc.  One such piece was "Shifting Gears."  I took this photo a couple of years ago, and have always loved the variation in color, and maybe even the layers, but in the painting, something just wasn't working for me.  In nature, what may be beautiful, doesn't always translate into a great painting.  So, I decided to take some of what I have learned, and try to improve upon "Shifting Gears."  I guess you could say that, in actual practice, I am shifting gears, and taking into consideration some basic compositional truths.

Here's the old version:

Several things have bugged me about this painting.  For one, though the actual scene was in layers, as you see here, I really did not like the result.  I also am not too happy with the intense darks of the tree trunks (something Johannes says the photo will do - make the darks too dark).  Then, I don't like the little details in the foreground.  So, back to the drawing board...

I decided that, though the oak trees were bare in their natural environment, they did not translate well, and so I chose to add some foliage.  I also muted the darks of the trunks, and other darks in the distance, with a grayed down purple.  I softened the detail in the foreground with a gray-green, and then was much more selective in how I added it back in, in just little hints.  Though the mustard in nature was so beautiful, it was too garish in the painting.  So, I just hinted at the mustard.  Another thing I did to break up the horizontal lines, is to bring the left-hand tree trunk closer, and I also added more bushes, and grasses, overlapping the horizontal lines.  None of these changes, in themselves, are huge, but with all of them together, they have improved the painting, I think.  I wonder what Johannes would say?