I think I am getting some of the points of this course and the usage of pencil to create value studies. First, I changed simply to an HB pencil and a smooth paper with a tiny bit of tooth. The bristol was too smooth a paper and the 2B and 4B pencils just smudged too easily despite my best efforts.
The teacher, Roberts, speaks of structure, rather than subject or detail, as the purpose of these drawings. This means masses of value, not picky details. The details can come in the painting, more so as it becomes larger. The value studies help sort out directing the eye to the point of interest.
The white cliff across the water is the focal point of the drawing, and, ostensibly, the painting. To lead the eye there I vignetted as one does in photography, but this time with graphite. The corners of the drawing are deliberately darker. A sort-of cloud or fog bank is light against the sky in the distance. I tried to use the pale reflection of the cliff in the water to draw the eye as well. Finally, I reworked the piles of sea weed and flotsam to aim the viewer toward the cliffs. The same can be said of the vegetation on the land above the cliffs.
I am beginning to get more comfortable with this approach to painting using a value study. 30 days of value studies is changing my eye and thought processes. Hopefully it will pay off in the future.
Today was the last day of the workshop with Brenda Swenson. She is a fabulous teacher who takes time with her students, with a personal quality that is positive and constructive. I learned a lot from three days immersed in watercolor, and I think I turned a corner in how I handle color. Besides being a good teacher – meaning her critiques and advice are sound – she also opened my eyes to a number of different things.
One lesson: paint the same item 6 different ways.
Another lesson: Use Canson pastel paper for painting! The colors are good, the paper is 70% cottong, and those two things work well together. Brenda brought in donuts for our first project. Mine is below.
For the remainder of the day, we worked on vignettes. I knew that vignettes were little images with white surrounding them. So? Well, it turns out that there is a real art to vignettes. Making the image cruciform – in the shape of a cross – with portions of the painting touching the top, bottom, and sides (1 or all 4), but not flowing into the corners, makes for a vignette. Key to an interesting picture is that each shape is in each corner is different than the others; additionally, work some of the white of the corners into the painting itself. I was surprised to find myself rather calm today, rather than flighty and unfocused like yesterday.
Mine worked out fairly well. A valid criticism was to make the lower windows somewhat greenish and warm, rather than a cold blue, to reflect the light of the unseen grass in the yard. A glaze was suggested.
My second painting was supposed to be a vignette, but failed on the middle side portions. I may go back in to fix it later.
Brenda provided all of us with incredible photos from her travels to use in the workshop, which in addition to unique items like plastic frogs and pecks of fake fruit, made for a really good experience. My weekend was only too short!