Zepplin Over Burbank by William Wray
One of the many things I love about local art clubs is the wonderful demonstrations that they have at the monthly meetings. This last Tuesday the San Fernando Valley Art Club had artist William Wray for the demonstrator. William is known for his urban landscapes that push composition, shapes and color into near abstraction.
He was nice enough to hand out printed information that gave everyone an inside view into his thought process. When deciding on a scene to paint first he asks a lot of questions and these questions will also help you to make the right choices. Here are things to ask before you start to paint.
1) Why do you want to paint the scene?
2) What emotional response does the subject give you?
3) What are the dominant design elements and how can you strengthen them?
4) Is your view too complicated? If so, can you make it a simple, strong design?
5) Does your subject have too many problems to solve to reduce it to a simple design? If so, try a simpler subject.
Once you have answered these questions and evaluated your composition, do a thumb nail sketch to help you refine and define the subject. Using photo software, William will also push the colors to be more intense and look for two complements to use for the main areas of color. By cropping the subject, he will hone in on the center of interest, reduce details and organize the image into a simple, clear view. During this process he will also focus on the "target" with supporting shapes that frame the center of interest.
Finally it is time to start painting! William uses inexpensive house painting brushes to block in the large shapes. He keeps it simple, colorful and uses lots of paint, even in the initial block in. On his second pass, I was fascinated to watch him use his palette knife to play with the edges, refining, mixing together and never keeping perfectly straight lines, even on the buildings. He told us that he likes to let the painting dry and then work over the dry paint with other colors and values. He often uses washes that allow some of the under color to influence the glazing color. He will usually go back in three times, each layer refining the image. A fourth and final pass is to add small details.
It was very interesting to see and have him discuss his process. Thank you to William Wray for his wonderful demonstration.Comment on or Share this Article →
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Learn the fundamentals necessary for successful landscape painting in the open air (plein air). The process will be broken down into achievable steps through demonstrations, on-location painting and personalized critiques. The techniques of plein air painting will be explored with a focus on composition, understanding values, establishing a focal point, and learning to edit from the wealth of material in nature. Every week we will meet at a different site where I will start with a demonstration focusing on the essentials of plein air painting. Students will then paint on location with individualized critiques. Every plein air experience is a unique challenge with the objective of capturing a moment in time. Whether you are a beginner or an established plein air painter, my goal is to give you the tools to become a better artist through observation, simplification, and the appreciation of painting from nature.Comment on or Share this Article →
Arboretum Reflections 11x14 Oil
Last night I demonstrated for the San Fernando Valley Art Club. I have a soft spot for the club since it was the first art club I joined five years ago. Thinking back, it is amazing how much I didn't know about the world of art. I was so green I didn't know what I didn't know. Five years later, I am forever grateful to the generosity of all the members, the support I have gotten and all the instruction from the many demonstrating artists.
You could say I have come full circle since I am now the one giving the demo, hoping to inspire and help other artists. Afterward, I was thrilled with all the questions, kind words and enthusiasm from the group.
Following are the first two stages of the painting I used for the demonstration. The finished painting called Arboretum Reflections (shown above) is for sale at Fine Art and Antique on Lake in Pasadena.
Blocking in the Shapes
Working out the composition is the most important starting step. Without a good, strong composition the painting can never succeed. Decide what you are painting; the water, the trees? Make the commitment with the positioning of the horizon line.
Establishing the Relationship between the Sky and Water
Water is almost always darker than the sky, so it is essential to establish the relationship between these two areas. Remember to first paint the depth of the water with vertical brushstrokes. This will give the water dimension. Wait to paint the water surface until after you have painted all the other shapes. Only then go back and paint the surface of the water.
Later this month on April 17, I will be doing another demonstration for the Bellflower Art Association at Thompson Park, 14000 Bellflower Blvd., Bellflower, CA from 6 PM to 8:30PM. For more information Contact Sharon or call Charlene Mueller at 562-633-9011.Comment on or Share this Article →
I hope you will join me for the demonstration at the San Fernando Art Club on April 3rd.
Join us on Tuesday, April 3rd when plein air artist and San Fernando Valley Art Club member, Sharon Weaver, shares her techniques on painting a professional landscape in oils.
Sharon won “Best of Show” at the last two SFVAC Exhibits. She enjoys participating in the challenge of plein air competitions. Her work appears in galleries and museums as well as private collections. She is represented by Gallery Elite in Carmel, CA, Segil Gallery in Monrovia, CA, and La Galeria Gitana in San Fernando, CA.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
6:30pm - Social time
7:00pm - Art Demonstration
Encino Community Center
4935 Balboa Blvd.
Sharon Weaver after Demo at SCA
I realized a while ago that teaching is a very important part of an artists resume so I knew I would have to dive into doing demos soon. The perfect opportunity presented itself when I received an email from Patty O'Hearn with the Santa Clarita Artists' Association asking if I would do a demonstration for the club.
I accepted, hoping that I was up for the challenge. The demo seemed far off in the future but before I knew it, the day was here. Luckily, I had already decided to approach the demonstration with "composition" as a central theme. I had some wonderful examples of bad compositions which I borrowed from Stapleton Kearns' Blog of bad ideas. It is always fun to start with what you shouldn't do and the row of potato shaped clouds really broke the ice.
I also took my two favorite books, Alla Prima by Richard Schmid and Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne and passed them around. I believe that with only these two books everyone can learn the principles of creating great art.
Of course, at some point I had to actually start painting. The challenge was to paint and talk about something else at the same time. Not an easy task when you think about all the decision involved in creating a painting. Without the necessary concentration, I fear my demo painting may have suffered. I was OK if I could just paint but then someone would ask a question and suddenly my mind was yanked from the painting to retrieve a response. Pretty tough.
My fears were dispelled when several members of the group came over to tell me how much they enjoyed the demonstration before having to leave. It was a gratifying moment. I think I now get why teachers teach. Sharing your knowledge, enthusiasm and experiences is fun. Having a group who responds with so much warmth and appreciation makes it memorable. Thank you to the wonderful members of the Santa Clarita Artists' Association.Comment on or Share this Article →
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Photos pose different problems. With a plein air study, I have already edited out unnecessary objects that can confuse the composition but a photograph still contains every single detail so when picking a photo I try to forget about the details. Without the luxury of an edited image, I focus on composition and especially look for unusual shapes.
I remembered a photo I had taken at Dana Point during the San Clemente Plein Air Competition 2009. When I found the photo, it was better than I remembered with a cross armature (see my sketch outlining the structure of the composition).
I loved all the quirky details of the image, the bird, the garbage can, the barrel, the peeling paint but it was ultimately the interesting shapes that convinced me this would make a wonderful larger painting. A cross armature is a very dramatic structure and after doing the sketch, I decided the horizontal arm would be even more dramatic using an elongated canvas.
Remember when picking a photo to use for a larger painting, first consider the composition, look for interesting shapes, emphasize the structure and edit the details.
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I hope you enjoyed this small summary of the demo. I had a great time. Thank you to Junn Roca and VAG for a wonderful event.
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It was fascinating to watch him play. The back and forth was very interesting as he applied the paint, blending some together while keeping other areas separate for contrast. The finished painting was rich with color, texture and movement. Here is another blog called Jose's Art Journal: Calvin Liang's Workshop Day Three regarding edge work. Thank you Calvin for putting on a wonderful show.
He said that a successful artist paints the air. I think this is a wonderful way to approach a painting. Many times I have painted at the same location with the only difference being the weather. The air is really what changes; the humidity, the light and the temperature all have a profound effect on color, value and mood.
Calvin Works on the Details
Calvin Liang's Completed Second Demo
Throughout the day, Calvin again emphasized the need to paint the shape, not the thing. He repeated his mantra of the first day; instead of the thing (the building, the ocean, etc) think of 1) Shape 2) Value 3) Color 4) Edges
1. SHAPE- Paint the shape not the thing. If you paint the thing it will never look right. Also keep the shapes varied and unique
2. VALUE- In plein air painting keep your values to five
3. COLOR- Decide whether a color is cool, warm
4. EDGES- Vary the edges between soft, sharp or lost throughout the painting
Watching Calvin begin to draw in the basic forms, it is obvious his drawing skills are amazing. He connects all the dark shapes to make an interesting composition.
Finished Painting by Calvin Liang
Now it was time to put in the details and refine the shapes. Here is where Calvin is a master. A few added details brought everything together. Watching him play with the paint was wonderful. He would smear it in some places and make a sharp line in others. He added the flags and the boat fittings with the smallest of brushes. Note that even in these details the line is broken, the color lighter at the bottom and darker at the top. His name is a wonderful addition to the painting.
You can see the painting I did near the same spot called "Rest Stop."
In my prvious blog post I wrote about the Mian Situ demonstration. This is the final chapter and Mian completes the portrait.
Mian Situ is one of only a few artists who achieve master status when they are alive. I have admired his work at the Masters of the American West Exhibition at the Autry Museum and at the Gold Medal Show for the California Art Club so I was very fortunate to be able to attend a portrait demo by Mian last weekend through the CAC.
Mian continued to apply the colors to the face and then began to work in the details of the eyes and mouth. Above he is creating the shadows around the eyes. Even with only forty minutes to paint he managed to achieve a remarkable level of detail.
With a palette knife, Mian applied the background forming interesting shapes that hinted at the wallpaper. He carved into the hair color with the neutral colors while allowing the background to be the positive space.
With fine brushes Mian worked on the details of the face. He captured the subtle nuances of the mouth and eyes. The portrait was nearly complete.
Thank you to Mian Situ and the California Art Club for making this event a once in a lifetime experience.Comment on or Share this Article →