A search on Amazon found a used updated version for very cheap and the original for a little more. The best thing about this book is the practical comparisons that are throughout the text. How many eye widths across is the face; wonderful information on drawing the hand; great perspective tips and lots more.
Enter a comment and let me know if you like the book or have a favorite figure drawing book of your own.
After the rains, the wildflowers have emerged to cover the chaparral in a patchwork of color. The smell of them will suddenly overwhelm me as I am driving along and I am compelled to stop to paint or at least take a picture. Last week, Marian Fortunati and I went searching for flowers to paint and Wildflowers is the result. This hill, covered with wild daisies and lavender, was tucked in a canyon off the coast.
I am continuing my use of pure color (no white). This painting was especially challenging and I had to fight the urge to add white to the dominant cool colors. With so much green, I needed to infuse some warm shades by adding lavender and rust for balance. The fire road, background hill and sky are the only place I added white.
As a painter, I view color is an endless source of inspiration and aggravation. I want to duplicate on canvas that streak of bright flowers. The problem is how. To a non-painter, it seems pretty straight forward. Mix the color and paint it, but those flowers on that hill are not just one color. They are a combination of yellows and golds; and those yellows and golds change depending on the color next to them and the shadows cast on them and the green of the grass showing through them and the sunlight on them. The possibilities are endless, the choices confusing.
I remember the first time I studied the cathedral series by Monet. I recognized it as an impressive manipulation of color by a master to create form. These painting are relevant to my current work so now is a good time to revisit this wonderful series. Take a look at Monet: Rouen Cathedral Series if you are not familiar with them or haven't looked at them in a while.
In person these paintings are even more amazing. The paint is thick with multiple colors layered on top of each other. There is color within color and up close the form of the cathedral is lost within that patchwork of color and texture.
The painting above, Hangin' at the Mini Mart, is the catalyst for my current obsession with color. For more see my blog Sunset Painting. The Detail of hangin' at the Mini Mart gives you an idea of the layers of color, the texture of paint and the way the different colors coalesce to create form. So painting that yellow flower on the hill has taken on a complexity with endless possibilities.
Driving down to the beach, I was anxious to continue my color theory on an ocean scene. Looking out from the cliffs, the morning fog pulled all the colors out of the landscape. It left a softer version of the usual sparkling Southern California seascape. I realized that I would need to find interesting shapes to paint and experiment with foggy colors.
I was immediately attracted to the strong curves of the bike path and the white reflections off the surface. All the edges of the distant buildings and trees were softened by the fog; their was little contrast to distinguish shapes so subtle colors would dominate the painting. I premixed a lot of the colors, which helped to keep them clean and allowed me to paint quickly while the fog was doing its magic. There is nothing worse than chasing the light when you are painting on location. Wherever possible, I added color not white and pushed color into the nuetral scene in front of me. I captured the early morning, before the sun started to burn away the fog.
Thank you to all the people who stopped by to express their positive opinions and encouragement. I enjoyed talking to everyone as I was painting. You can have this painting hanging in your home by clicking on Morning on the Bike Path or make a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
I am continuing my expanded use of color into my plein air work. Remembering to incorporate vibrating colors, I picked this grassy path to paint. The contrast on the path caught my eye and I loved the vibration of the green with the rust colored earth. The strong morning light lit the grasses and the far hill was lost in the shadows.
With this painting, I also incorporate vibrant colors into my shadows. No white is used in the background area except for the sun on the tree trunks. The field of grass is a study in various greens with peach and rust accents showing through. To buy this little gem just click on the title.
As a landscape painter, many of my works have a tree or a group of trees that make up a dominant area in the composition. I have often painted trees as green blobs, not too worried about the specifics. As long as it looked like a tree I was satisfied, but recently I have started to view trees in a different way.
With my Tuesday figure drawing class, I have found a definite comparison between the stance of a tree and that of a figure. Each tree has a pose, an attitude, that translates onto the canvas. Much like a standing figure, the weight of a tree is counterbalanced; if the trunk leans to the right a large branch will thrust out to the left. The soft curve of a branch can mirror a leg; the sharp angles are like that of a bent arm.
Each tree also has an attitude which is manifest by its pose. Stately, rigid, voluptuous, vulnerable are only a few examples of how to portray a tree. I have seen paintings of gnarled, weathered trees that emote a feeling of time, endurance and age. In Chasing the Sun, the center tree cluster is young, vibrant and communicates a sense of joy with its airy upward reaching branches. The group to the right is solid, permanent with strength being its dominant feature.
So before painting that green blob, think about what you want that tree to say. What is its attitude.
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Here is the blog I promised about vibrating color. When complementary colors are painted on top of each other, they will fool your eye into combining the two colors. Complementary colors are those that are opposite on the color wheel. I prefer using the Munsell Color Wheel over the traditional Triadic Color Wheel, but either will work.
I first consider the final colors and then I do the under-painting (see above) using only the complementary colors. For green the complement is a red-violet. For the orange the complement is blue. You get the idea. By using the complementary color for the under-painting, the final painted color will display much more interest. Your eye will vibrate back and forth between the two colors causing more depth, more excitement. This is especially important in dark colors because it keeps them from looking flat and dead.
The under-painting can look a little strange but have courage and use those odd colors. Here is another example below. Because I paint landscapes which have a lot of cool colors like green and blue, using the complements will add much needed warm colors to the canvas. Make sure that when you paint over the under-painting you don't cover all of the warm colors; let them shine through in some areas.
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The sketch above shows how less is really more. With only line and a few shadows I have captured the strength of the model and the twist of the torso. I especially like the feet with the flexed right foot and the half hidden left foot. I think the minimal lines for the bent head are also very effective.
To the left in sepia, is a sketch from this week, the charcoal sketch with the same pose is from my first figure drawing session. Note on the earlier sketch how the shadows don't have purpose and the lines are undefined. By comparison, the sepia sketch uses a wide variety of line to define details. Compare the head, hands and knees of the two sketches. In addition, the shadows are not random but enhance the pose in the newer sketch.
The lesson; every line, every brush stroke, every shadow should have a purpose.
In my last post I talked about my new color palette. It makes me all fuzzy to know that someone is reading my ramblings and asked me to talk about the changes I have made.
Here are the important details.
1) I eliminated brown. No burnt sienna, no burnt umber, no browns at all.
2) I am using two tones of the three primary colors: one warm, one cool
a) 2 blues are Ultramarine Blue(warm) and Cerulean Blue(cool)
b) 2 reds are Cadmium Red Light(warm) and Alizarin Crimson(cool)
c) 2 yellows are Yellow Ochre(warm) and Cadmium Yellow Light(cool)
3) I am only adding white as a last resort so the colors remain true pigment.
For example if I want a warm green in the olive tones I will mix Ultramarine with Yellow Ochre and a touch of Cad Red. The yellow and red will lighten the green for a very nice rich color.
4) Cool mid tone blues(you can use Cobalt Blue) are impossible to make light without adding some white so don't make yourself crazy but use as little as possible to lighten the blues.
5) And the last color I use is Viridian Green. Again it is very difficult to mix a blue green mid tone without white so Viridian keeps you from going crazy.
The last thing I did before I started painting with this palette was to experiment so I squeezed out a big blob of each color and started mixing(see top). No white, just color. I achieve a level of comfort with the colors by doing this simple exercise. Try mixing every combination you can and have fun. I will also talk about vibrating complimentary colors in a future blog.
Whenever I paint outside, I think about the difficulties the early Impressionists must have faced when first taking their painting outside. Imagine dealing with the heavy equipment, canvases and paints that don't come in tubes. Yikes!! Before all the special equipment designed specifically for plein air painting, it must have been incredibly challenging. In addition to the equipment issues, those early plein air painters were also going against the established norms by venturing out of the studio to paint landscapes.
I try to keep all that in mind when I am struggling to set up my easel with my Thursday plein air group. The Old Mill in San Marino is a lovely Spanish building that has survived the many earthquakes in Southern California because of it's five foot thick walls. A grist mill, it was first built that way to with-stand the vibration of the grinding wheel.
The Old Mill is my first painting using the new palette (see Painting with a New Palette). The colors are stronger, brighter and more intense. I have eliminated all browns which keeps the dark colors much more lively. I am only mixing colors with white when all else fails. This keeps the intensity of the colors and makes the light passages stand out even more. Adding white dilutes color. My future blogs will show my continuing experiment with color.
I believe that as an artist the true test is not how "good" you are but about the continuing struggle to be better.
Dick mentioned that he loves to apply a lot of heavy paint. He uses a medium by Gamblin called Galkyd which speeds up drying time and forms a dry surface. This allows additional application of other colors on top without smearing the color underneath. The advantage in using Galkyd is that the colors stay separated, clean and not muddy. The surface is not completely dry so it is also possible to mix the two colors if you want that effect.
Another good insight from Dick was to keep the darker areas transparent and with a thin application of paint. Thick paint will reflect light and cause unusual highlights in the dark areas if they are applied with thick paint. Those highlights work on light areas and that is why the highlights should have thick paint. I loved this explanation of paint application because it makes so much sense.