Thursday, January 27, 2011

Plein Air "Takeaway" Technique

I’ll be teaching this oil-painting technique on Sunday, January 30 at the Volcano Art Center's Niaulani building in Volcano Village. Here are some notes to ponder:

Paints to use when starting a painting (more transparent, dry quickly)

For Trees, buildings, etc:

Ultramarine Blue
Prussian Blue (good for the ocean)
Dioxazine Purple
Yellow Ochre
Viridian Green
Sap Green
Alizarine Crimson
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber
Indian Yellow (very strong clear transparent yellow)
Permanent Rose
Quinacridone Magenta

For sky areas and for a sense of distance (use sparingly):

Naples Yellow
Cobalt Turquoise (good for ocean and underwater seafoam)

Paints to use only later in the process (very opaque, dry very slowly):

Cadmium Yellow Light (or Cad. Lemon or Hansa Yellow)
Cad. Yellow Medium or Dark
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Red Light, Medium, and/or Dark
Cad Light Green
Permanent Green
any Gamblin Radiant Series

Regard the scene (or still life or figure). See if you can “grok” the overall dance or movement of what’s going on. Is there a focal point of interest? Is there a path going into the space? (consider inventing one if there is not!) Does the space between things do any special movement? (i.e. a tunnel of space over a shady lane, or a sweep of air along a coastline, or mysterious glades among treetrunks...) What emotion is expressed by this scene? Squint if it helps to see the larger masses and the overall pattern. If the light is doing something truly amazing, take a picture now since those effects rarely last! Same thing with animals or people doing interesting things in your scene.

Step 1: Dot paint directly from tubes onto canvas for quickest results. Your choice of color now will set the tone for the whole painting. Balance observation with fantasy and imagination regarding color! Use your largest brush to mush paint into approximate shapes without regard to lighting effect, just simplified silhouettes. Let the tones be in the middle, neither very light nor very dark. Cover the canvas completely with thinned paints, using either turpentine or turps mixed with some dryer. Borrow paint with your brush from heavier areas if needed to distribute and re-arrange. Note that more distant objects are lighter in tone, so add white or let the paint be more transparent.

When the whole canvas is covered, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Eat a cookie and drink a sip of your hot tea.

Step 2: Use a medium size brush dipped in darker paints to draw shadows and structural details. Adjust the darkness so more distant objects are sketched in lighter tones. This would be the time to add the more important tree trunks and branches.

Step 3: Then take a rag in one hand and dip a smaller clean brush in thinner. A t-shirt rag on your finger works well for this step, or just keep re-cleaning the brush. Start wiping away areas where the sun directly hits the objects: rooftops, tree bulges facing the sky, sunlight patches on a road surface or a lawn, linear streaks along tree trunks facing the light.
If the canvas has been toned a deep color, this step may take some imagination and delayed gratification since you are working to achieve a sense of light.

Step 4: Start adding highlights using strong, thick opaque paints. Now’s the time for cadmiums. Sunlight is yellow, and so a stronger effect of light can be achieved with yellow tints. White clouds can have a pure yellow edge to pop them against the blue sky. Tree trunk highlights can have a cadmium orange edge to pop them against all the green and blue shadows. Road highlights can be pink, yellow or orange depending on the paving material. Lawns and trees can have pure yellow or cadmium green light highlights. Permanent Green can be used sparingly. The Gamblin Radiant Series can be helpful.

Time and energy permitting, the final working of the painting can go on to whatever level of exactitude you prefer. Take photos of the scene if you like so you can tweak the details later. But oftentimes the first bold approach will result in a fresh, exciting painting that might not be improved with a lot of fussing!

Thanks as always to Roger Montoya of New Mexico for always generously sharing his techniques!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Afternoon at the Gallery, January26

These are some photos from around the gallery just to show what's new this year. I'm always on everyone's case to keep producing new art, but the truth is that it's pretty challenging to keep it coming! New, fresh art is often the first to get sold, and so sometimes it can seem like the gallery doesn't change very much. But it does have its progression of novelty....

We looked longingly at a space that's opening up on bayfront, just down from Sig Zane's very prestigious store. Dreams of expansion and better exposure danced in our heads, but the rent (double our current, plus lots of insurance needs!) was daunting. A mishap with a very grouchy manager clinched the non-deal, as he threw Cosette and Tuko out of the space for just being there looking around! We think we'll stick with our current location and our friendly landlords!

To celebrate Valentine's Day and month, we are having a sale on cards, t-shirts, pareos and boxes. I personally love the little hand-crafted items, but they take a lot of time for the $$ amount we can charge. But it's just this sort of thing that will be popping up on those TV antiques road shows in future years, unbelievably rare items from the hands of artists!

I'll be teaching an oil-painting workshop this Sunday up in Volcano Village, at the Niaulani campus of the Art Center. It's been a while since I've taught, so it will be a good chance to brush up on my people skills and communication arts.

A friend of David Hubbard provided this shot of him working on a portrait.