Another adventure in negative painting. As I have mentioned earlier, trees are a very good way to practice negative painting.
Here, I painted around the white trunks, and then more tinted trunks. I couldn’t find myself getting rigidly graphic with this, and just did a splish-splash approach. I also think I did a fairly decent job of moving from a dark, shady forest floor to a more sunlit canopy.
In the end, I used some white gouache, too, and rather like the vibrational energy of it all.
Negative painting is painting around a shape. Positive painting is painting an actual shape. The first is hard to do. The second less so, but the skill of negative painting is necessary and can produce some pretty dramatic results. It is also a skill if you don’t want to use liquid frisket to block off areas to keep white. Positive painting sounds easy, but it ain’t. (My flower paintings are evidence of this!)
A common exercise to show the learner how to do negative space is to paint a tree, paint around it in a light wash, draw another tree on the colored wash, and then paint around this, until you have a lot of trees ranging from white to the varying values of the wash. Sterling Edwards has a lengthy but very good video about this method:
While I know about negative painting, and have stated it as one of my goals, along with flowers (which benefit from the skill of negative painting), I thought this was a good one of the many I watched. What I liked was how he blends his paint inward.
Anyway, I did trees. Rick Surowicz is also a master at negative painting, and if you look at Edwards’ paintings, and those of Surowwicz, you will see both apply the same techniques. In my painting, I used Arches 140# CP, 9×12. I outlined the tree, and then painted around it. At some point I was frustrated and decided to do some painting with white gouache, on both the primary tree and then adding others.
Overall, I rather like the effect, particularly after adding the gouache. I think it enhanced the painting rather than making it just another annoying experience! I used to be quite rigid about not using gouache, much less gel pens or diluted acrylics in my watercolors, but rules exist to be broken, and I expect purists would call this “mixed media” – but that no longer bothers me as much as it used to. Watercolors they are (water soluble), so watercolors these remain.
For the past several weeks I have been immersed in painting classes – 2 or 3 a week, and too many hours to count. I finally decided I was doing more than was good for the rest of my life, and decided to cap it to a few hours a day. That balanced things out as I was getting rather nutso.
This is based off a Pixabay photo of trees and snow, at sunset or dawn. I am not sure if this one is “finished” yet, but think it is done enough to scan and put online. It is acrylic paint on a piece of 11×15 watercolor paper. I decided to use it as the paper is 100% cotton but the sizing is not good. As I bought the paper a long time ago, I cannot return it.
One thing about painting in acrylic, you can paint on a lot of different surfaces. I like the feel of paper beneath my brush more than a canvas panel that I have gessoed. Maybe it is because I am used to its surface texture, but there is more of a connection there with its surface – smoother than a cotton canvas panel, but with some tooth. I do plan to learn more about oils later this summer but need to play with it a lot more and figure out where to paint as oil solvents, while now often odorless, are still volatile and not exactly something to be breathing in a closed space.
As I work on learning how to paint I also explore different artists. Right now I have been looking at a lot of the Russian artists of the Impressionist variety along with ones from the 1930s, such as Nikolai Timkov and his fellow painters. Impressionists and more modern painters appeal to me because their sense of color and brushwork, as well as subject matter, are more to my liking than any other era. I like abstraction, too, so a bit of all of these appeal to me. Strong graphics, elegant composition, good colors get my eye. Art is really a personal thing anyway. What I want to hang on my walls may be nothing you would even consider . . .
All this painting is also making me think about brushwork. It expresses so much. Smoothly blended or broken? I think the next exploration will be broken brush strokes and trying to choose a color and put it down – paint it and leave it, as Ian Roberts is telling us!
I needed a change of pace – a way to relax – after yesterday’s very intense painting of buildings and people. It’s nice to visit familiar territory. But, I was not without goals. Here I worked on subtle gradations and color change in the sky; misty / soft trees in the horizon using moist paper to blur and indicate distance; a couple of buildings with subtle rooftops; snow. On Arches CP 140#, 9×12.
For the past few months I have been taking a number of classes in watercolor and painting. Throw in an occasional Pencil Portraits in the Park classes, and you can see I get a bit busy.
Magpies like bright things, and I am convinced I am a magpie reincarnated. Hawaiian shirts are a particular delight. Color in any form, the brighter is usually the better, even if it borders on poor taste. Oddly, I do enjoy black and white photography – it can be quite beautiful and dramatic – but painting value studies, monochrome, has eluded me as something to enjoy – until now!
I have been taking an online class from Ian Roberts for the past few months. It began with value studies in pencils. Now we are doing value studies in paint. Some people are painting in watercolor, others in acrylic or pastels; I decided to try out oil paints for the first time in years – nay, decades – and am pleased with the results. It is a hell of a lot of fun to moosh around paint and be able to moosh it around the next day, unlike acrylics. (You can also use gouache to pretty much the same effect.) With our weekly Zoom meetings on Saturday mornings, Roberts is providing great feedback and a personal, technical, and esoteric touch to what are foundational elements in art.
Above is my first oil monochrome. I didn’t do a great job of replicating the picture, but I did get reacquainted with how to use a brush with oils. I am using hog bristle filberts if you want to know. While we are working on values, we are also working on leading the eye. Here, not a lot of success as the road or white area in the mid left is too bright – the eye is to be led to the right.
This is from the second week. Focus is on values and edges, the latter being hard or soft or vanishing. I enjoyed this a lot, even though my sphere needs a bit of anchoring! It really helped me to see a bit more sharply.
Roberts did a demo version of the still life, and then left us to find our own way with the landscape. Oils are a bit of a challenge to use because of their long drying time if you want to paint over something. As a result, I cannot scan them, but have to take a photo while they dry. Wet surfaces are a bit shiny, and the texture of the paint and canvas are more challenges to creating a digital image. This study made me see things differently, and one element I had to do was to edit the photo – simplifying it – to work a bit on the painting to make it work. Not great, but values are getting easier to produce.
Here is one of the two studies for the third week. I did this yesterday, outdoors on the patio. I lugged out this and that, found I forgot something, ran back to get it, and it was a Big Production. But a fun one! I still need to work on this one a bit – the 2nd pole on the right needs some sharpening and the road in the distance needs a bit of work. Once more, the photo is lacking, but what can you do?
So, my painting world is suddenly black and white, and I am enjoying it. I’ve decided to do “daily painting” when possible, on other subjects as well. It will be interesting to see where all these monochrome studies take me, and when Roberts lets us to add yellow ochre to our titanium white and ivory black to learn more about warm and cool values, I think the world will change even more . . .
I am taking an online watercolor class, and I am sort of this way, that way about it. There is feedback and some great videos, but I find that I like to have a more personal contact than such. Another online class I am taking has weekly Zoom meetings and even though we aren’t all yacking with the instructor, it is more personal.
Anyway, despite what I would like to see different, there is a lot of value in pursuing online learning. To a degree, you have to motivate yourself. You have to have the discipline to do it. One thing that I do find especially hard in all my classes is the making of value studies – oh, how I hate them! I don’t have them as part of my routine when it comes to painting, and the discipline of doing them is what I hate. I expect that doing them will pay off in the future – but it may be a bit down the road as I force myself to do them without appreciating what I know they are supposed to provide.
Above, a study from a photo in my watercolor class. Below is the first value study showing the midtones
All the white area is supposed to be sky and the lightest areas of the picture. The grey is the middle value. These are used to help shape the painting before refinement with darks and details. Below is my dark-added value study.
I actually really think this idea of doing middle values for the first step of a value study is a good idea. Do these values first, paint your lights and mid values in color, and then move on to the darker ones in the value study and the final painting. Doing this is very nice, really, because the dark values and details get distracting.
Like I said, this is a thing I am not enjoying doing but know it is probably going to reap bigger rewards than I can imagine at present. Values and edges are what I am trying to see in anything I do.
This is my second foray into the series of photos Andy Evansen has posted for studies in the second module of his watercolor class. Here the focus is on value studies.
One of the things I am attempting to do, from both my classes with Evansen and with Ian Roberts, is to work on value. Evansen is a watercolorist and Roberts is an oil painter. Evansen demonstrates the use of a value study on his YouTube channel by creating the middle value(s) as large shapes. Roberts emphasizes shapes rather than things as well. Unlike Roberts, though, Evansen begins his value study with simply the middle value, leaving lights as white. After he has painted the middle values in his painting, he returns to the value study to put in darks and perhaps details.
I managed to do the middle value study, and then painted in what I considered to be the middle values, working left to right as I am right handed. But, before that, I laid in the sky with paper turned upside down as I wanted to have a darker value at the horizon.
I am not sure if the paper is improperly sized, but the paint and paper did not interact well. This is a 300# CP Kilimanjaro paper, natural white, and the first time I have used it. I also wet both sides of the paper, which is a habit I have for watercoloring with 140# paper. I need to see what happens in the future with other paintings.
I don’t really think this painting has a focal point, but that is not the purpose of this study. This module is to paint left to right, working in midvalues and sky first and leaving areas of white or light colors intact. From there, darks.
Evansen has provided a number of photos as references for the basis of a painting, and for values, I think I will work on that and try to apply what I am learning from Roberts and Evansen to create some things worth the time I spend. The reference photos range from landscaapes to cityscapes – animals and people. I will begin with the landscapes and then try the harder subjects for me. Here, there are cow shapes – blobby things. I have also done geese – more blobby things. All thesse blobs have characteristic shapes for the critters.
So! I am dipping my toe into new territories . . . let’s see where it takes me!