Monday, April 26, 2010

Grasping Bigger Shapes

After finishing the still life, I was very eager to get back to the landscape, which I don't have to control my brush strokes tightly to make the shapes exactly the same with what viewers have known about the objects.

Instead, with landscapes, I want to recreate bigger shapes/patters as I see to make the painting interesting. To do that, I need to put some more value contrast on the canvas to make those shapes visible. For example, in the photo, you can probably see some triangular shapes/patterns on the right side of the ridge. You can do that because I put the lighter valued colors in to define those shapes. I made the colors of trees lighter at the same time.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Next Series of Landscapes

While  finishing up the commission piece, Wine Glass and Fruits, or actually since last week, I had been thinking about the next series of landscapes for this year. Last year was Yakima series. I made three of them and am working on the fourth one now. I did 5 or 6 plein-air sessions through last spring and summer. It was quite productive even though each studio piece took more than a month.

After, or while, watching at Northwest Backroad on King5 last Saturday, I decided the destiination of the next series to be North Cascades and/or Methow Valley along State Route 20.  I'll probably be painting many mountains, forest, lakes and rivers, I guess. I would make Skagit River Resort (inexpensive cabins) at Mablemountain as my base. It must be interesting and exciting to test my new approach in plein-air.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last Update, probably

Main subjects are almost done except for the vase. Or I don't want to touch any more. Otherwise I'd just destroy what I've established so far. The vase looks still flat. I'm guessing I need to make the edges of the ume tree picture sharper a little more, then put some color/value variations for the rest to let the vase sit well behind those subjects.

I'll intend to finish this piece tomorrow.

Second Week at Gage: Still "blocking-in"

This awful photo would give you some idea what kind of objects we're working on and the classroom environment. Sorry for the quality of the photo. Today, we kept working on blocking-in. The Moses head was the last one I drew today. It looks difficult to draw but actually not much. Because we're not expected to draw the details of small shapes but grasp the larger shapes accurately. "Accuracy of larger shapes", that's the key.

Almost at the end, I realized I made it wider than it's supposed to be in comparison to the height. That's why those vertical, horizontal, and diagonal structural lines don't intersect at the right points. Next time I need to do a better job.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

First day at Gage Academy

Today was the first Saturday of 9 Saturdays at a cast drawing class at Gage Academy. I wished I brought a camera to take some photos at the classroom. The instructor is Susan Bari Price. First 2 hours were spent for introductions and Susan's demo for "block-in". So we got only three 15 min drawing sessions ourselves. The photos above are from my 2nd and 3rd session. You wouldn't recognize what I was trying to draw for the first one if I put it on. Basically we tried figuring out the height vs. width ratio and defining major contours, and refining the lines by measuring relative positions and angles with a skewer. At this stage we're supposed to ignore values and focus only on major shapes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Win or lose, every stroke counts

Well, it's getting to the point when I could enhance it or completely ruin it by a single brush stroke. I guess it's about time I need to go thicker boldly, instead of adding thin layers of glazing. It could literally ruin this painting. But I need to try. Otherwise I couldn't get any valuable experiences out of this painting. I might try different brushes other than filberts. I need to make edges sharper from here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mid-value First?!?

This was actually not so intentional. But it came out in this way natually when I tried remembering how I did in the last workshop. I used to define the darkest dark and made the rest much darker than the final values. Then adjusted those lighter values gradually to be the final. On the way, I might put the lightest at early to mid stages and narrow the contrast toward mid-values. "Yakima River" was a good example of that approach. With that way, the contrast between darkest and lightest tends to stay high in the finished paintings and those mid values are leaning toward either the darkest or lightest. That's what I had from the beginning when I started painting back in 2003. I now realize that.

I covered up most of canvas quickly with mid-tones. It looks dull at this moment but I think that' all right for now. I also started departing from the reference photo and arranging the bigger shapes in the foreground to have a diagonal line from the center on the right edge of the canvas to the left-bottom corner. It shows as if there is a passage along the line. This kind of change in composition never occurred to me until now. It's another influence from the last workshop.

However, it's coming to the difficult stage how to make the foreground lively and let the ridge shining with variations of colors. Which I somehow need to overcome.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A little more progress on still-life

I put more colors on the cloth. Maybe still too dark. But I guess I need to make fruits lighter fist. Also I want to make the vase a little warmer. It's too green now.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Book of William Wendt

Finally I got this book, which I've been thinking since earlier last year. More than a year since I discovered him. It was about $100 on Amazon Market Place. I placed the order last Sat after came back from Ned's workshop Day 2. William Wendt originally came from Germany and learned art at the AI of Chicago. Then moved to Southern California. He's the farther of California Impressionism. The colors in his landscapes are amazing. And his brush stokes with bright brushes are very bold (rather straight than curved) and distinctive. Yet his sense of values is his strong asset. In this more than 300 page hard cover book, there are probably more than 100 color photos of his paintings. Every single one of them is blowing me away. How could he do that!
I know I can't paint like him now but eventually I want to be able to do that. And Ned's workshop helped me to get a step closer to the goal.
  • Title: In Nature's Temple, the Life and Art of William Wendt
  • Publisher:The Irvine Museum-Laguna Art Museum; First edition (2008)

Strongly Influenced

I put some colors on the ridge and the sky. Only four colors. But I can see strong influence by Ned's workshop. I usually put much darker values at this earlier stage. But even on the dark trees on the ridge, I used some mixed white to tone down the value. And I used quite amount of white for the other parts. Again, even at this early stage.

At this stage, I'm still looking for the bigger shapes of values/colors, which should make the ridge interesting. Through this "finding" process, I inevitably painted wet-in-wet, which is also rare in my previous accustomed process of landscape painting in this size.With new process, I'm skipping some middle steps I regularly repeat until I feel much comfortable with the lager shapes, including photographing the painting and comparing with the reference photo. This would speed up the entire painting process a lot. I hope.

Committed to make progress

After Ned Mueller's workshop last weekend, I'm committed to make good progress on the still life and land scape painting. I don't have any other plan for this Easter weekend. Weather is not encouraging for yard/garden work either. Perfect weekend for painting in my studio.

I started putting the lightest and lighter values on canvas that would make the contrast with darker values clearer. Not too off so far. I might want to make the fruits lighter as well as the bottom cloth.

I'll update again later this weekend.