In 2017, tired of the ‘rat race’ and noises of the city, I decided to pack up the household, the studio and the cat and move out into the country. I found a place outside the small western Colorado town of Olathe, bordering on the eastern edge of the Dry Creek Recreation Area. The name of that area sounded like a good moniker for an art studio. Olathe is also known for “Olathe Sweet Corn”. Sweet corn fields surround my studio during the summer growing season.
The housing and studio are part of a working farm and offer splendid panoramas of the western Colorado landscape which has long been a source of inspiration for may painting. My new home has a significantly larger space available and it affords me the solitude of the country away from the horns and sirens of city life. In addition to developing new painting techniques, I hope that living on the farm might also help me develop my ‘green thumb’.
During workshops I do several demonstrations for the members of the class. Before commencing the demonstration, I like to provide the attendees with some ‘tips’ or general things to consider before, during and after their painting session. While the tips themselves, as well as their utility may vary depending on the skill level of the participants, the venue and the subject matter, the following list of considerations may also help you create your best painting ever.
· Using photos is fine for the ‘planning’ or sketching phase of your project but once your sketch is complete, put the photo away!
· Utilize strong values on the sketch. This will teach you to balance light and dark areas on your painting. Abrupt value changes can be fixed by darkening the lighter values, or, you can start a new sketch. Restarting a sketch is a whole lot cheaper then starting a new painting!
· When starting a painting, take a chance! Get out of your comfort zone. When you do, you’ll find that good things start to happen.
· Always use your sketch as a starting point and then reference it from time to time during your session. Work very quickly, trying to keep your brush a couple of steps ahead of your mind. When you overthink your approach or pause to ‘critique’ your last brush stroke, your painting is likely to ‘go south’.
· Start your painting using big, interlocking shapes. Once the shapes are on the paper, you can fill in the detail in areas you deem worthy of that level of effort.
· Use the big brushes only when starting the painting. As you proceed, use the smaller brushes to fill in the detail. Remember the saying: “Big painting, big brushes – small painting, small brushes.
· When you are finished, put the painting away. Immediate self-critiques invariably lead to the urge to ‘fix things’. That’s when you’ll ruin the painting. Knowing when the painting is finished is as important as knowing where to start.
· Become your own critic later. When you pull the painting back out after a couple of days you are likely to find that areas of prior concern may not be as noticeable. Much to your pleasant surprise, minor mistakes may actually add some character to your effort.
Keep these tips in mind as you create your next image. All the things listed above may not apply to every effort, but if you use a few of them, it’s likely that you will enjoy painting and the finished artwork more.
In addition to using brilliant colors to create the scenes, I like to use a technique referred to as ‘shape painting’, or as it is also called, “negative” painting. Negative painting is a technique whereby shapes are used behind the feature the artist intends to showcase on the image. I can insert additional smaller shapes or combinations of smaller shapes to create the level of detail I’m seeking to attain. Attendees at my workshops will view demonstrations of this process and learn to apply the technique as they progress from very basic landscapes such as panoramas to complex images of city scenes.
Recently I have been experimenting with multi-medium painting. I am using three mediums in conjunction with each other to create a more exciting, brighter, colorful representation.
The three mediums are:
Using a trial and error process to experiment with acrylics, I am now placing little shapes of gouache paint in the rest of the painting, in the middle-ground of the design. You should also leave a good portion of the under-painting as a finished area as it is your brightest paint. I find that it adds a little sparkle to the watercolor, making it more appealing. I am not sure where this technique will lead me, but it is sure exciting to move in a different direction. Something new always adds excitement in any endeavor one tries.
I would like to thank Steve Quiller for the introducing me to this exciting new way of working.
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