bLOG of My Artistic Journey
February 03,2021
Hawthorne on Painting

I just finished reading this short book (91 pages) about the teachings of Charles W. Hawthorne, the founder of the Cape Cod School of Art in 1899.  There are introductory sections by others, including his son, and then by Hawthorne himself.  The book is then divided into sections that capture Hawthorne's comments to students as they painted studies of human models indoors and outdoors, still lifes and landscapes.  So many of the comments resonnated with me that it is difficult for me to pare them down so please excuse this entry if it seems to go on and on.  While his teaching dates back to the turn of the 20th century, his comments seem to be as relevant today.  This is probably a reflection that art builds on what came before and that we as artists belong to an ongoing fellowship.  Buckle up and come along for the ride!

From the introductory sections.... The world is not interested in mere pictures but is interested in something that makes it believe in the glory and beauty of human existence.  Painters won't achieve this by merely painting pictures; they most show people more than they (the viewers) already see.  The artist must add to the world more than the sum total of beauty in it.  We must teach ourselves to see beauty in the ugly and common place.  It is greater to make much of little than little of much.  There are so many colour, but it is their beautiful combination that makes a masterpiece.  If the artist doesn't get a thrill painting, how does he/she expect to thrill others?  Good painting is an aesthetic emotion and 'reasonable' painting destroys emotion.  Painters don't reason, they do and subconscious thought counts.  The only way to learn to paint is by painting.  An artist is one who is eternally curious.  Great painters are always students.  Do many studies and stop when you lose interest and then start again.  Don't be in a rush to only set out to do finished paintings as that will come with time and practice.  If your colours are right, very little else is needed.

From outdoor model sessions.... Select a subject you can visualize as a painting.  Everything in painting is a silhouette so have light against light not light against light.  Draw a minmal amount and put down colour spots instead.  Many artists try to duplicate nature instead of expressing themselves in colour spots.  We analyze too much so try putting down your first impressions more.

From still life sessions...  Drawing and painting are best kept separated.  The big painter looks and does while the little painter tickles with a camel hair brush.  Don't fill in an outline but make the inside form the outline.  Concentrate more on interior the interior and less on edges as there is no such thing as an edge in nature.  If your colours are right, so too will be your values.  Don't paint objects, paint spots of colour relative to one another.  When white appears to go warm it loses its power so leave at least some part of white objects pure white.  Backgrounds are as important as the subjects.  Successful painters continually paint still life.

From landscape sessions....  Do the simple thing well.  We do well the things we see already painted in our minds so don't start until you see it or you will already be defeated.  The starting sketch should only ionclude the essentials as it isn't a drawing you are doing, it is a painting.  Paint for fun and practice and not always for exhibition.  The curse for painters is to do what the world calls beauty instead of looking out frankly with our own eyes.  Look at things as a mosaic.  Do not look as though you reasoned too much as painting must be impulsive to be worthwhile.  As a painter, there is aesthetic excitement about painting so put things down while you feel that joy.  Your work should show you have a great time painting.

From indoor model sessions...  Treat live models like a still life and go after big spots of colour (ie. figure vs background; light vs. shadow).  Establish the lightest light and the darkest shadows. Start by establishing the face against the background.  Half of the likeness is in the colours.  Three or 4 general spots come together as a protrait and your viewers can supply the rest if the colour spots are correct.  Don't approximate the first colour you put down as all that follows is keyed to that first colour.  Keep your canvas interesting all over at the same time (in other words, keep moving around your canvas).  Don't overdo accents as it makes the painting look spotty.  Eyes are important so study them closely and look at them with an attitude of surprise as all eyes are unique no only between individuals but also between eyes of the person.  See how few lines or spots you can use (less is more).  Express truth.  Being technically correct isn't enough.

On watercolours...  A good watercolour is a happy accident.  Watercolours are a messy, runny medium and hard to use to make studies.  Oil is a better medium especially for student painters.  The challenge with watercolours is to take care of edges and you are unable to see the final tones as they dry lighter.  Use good paper and work wet and be prepared the make horrible free studies.

From concluding remarks... Painting is about seeing not doing.  Beauty is a better name for art.  Work on seeing what others don't.  The spirit that moved the greatest master moves us as well today.

Did you survive wading through all the ideas?  If you did you may have noticed a bias.  That is probably more a reflection of where my artistic journey is at the moment rather than Hawthorne's thinking about 100 years ago.  If any of these ideas resonated with you may I suggest you read this book and see if there may be additional thoughts that pertain more to you?  It was a great, easy read and I highly recommend it.


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February 01,2021
List of Artists Whose Work Influences Me

Lisa Congdon, in her book Find Your Artistic Voice, recommends creating a list of artists whose work you admiire and who influence you.  She recommends writing down what it is about the artists that inspires you.  I created this list and I found it quite informative thinking about why I was struck by their work.  It helped me focus on what I am trying to create in my art.  Here's my list if you are interested: 

A.J. Casson

Jean Haines

Hazel Soan

David Lobenberg

Mary Whyte

Charles Reid

Jonas Kunickas

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Edouart Manet

Ewa Ludwiczak

Jack Vettriano

Norman Rockwell

Linda Kemp

Rose Edin

Suzanne Valadon

 


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February 01,2021
Tips for Achieving Luminous Colour

I just re-read an article from Watercolor Artist magazine from 2010.  It was called Watercolor Essentials - Tips to Achieving Luminous Colour by Rose Edin.  I really liked how her colours popped and how well her paintings held together.  Here's the points from the article that caught my attention.

Color Harmony - Rose paints with transparent pigments applying them directly from the tube to pape, allowing them to mingle or applies layers only after previous layers were dry.

Color Complements - Contain all 3 primary colours and enhance one another when they are next to each other.

Analagous Colors - Choose the pigment representing local colour as your primary hue.  Then choose the colour beside it that is the lightest for the light values and the other on the other side as the darker shadow values.  The warmer of the analagous colours will come forward in the painting and the darker will recede.

Mingling for Vibrant Color - Mingling creates exciting areas of colour instead of flat passages that are less interest to viewers.  For proper mingling, use colours that are of a juicy consitancy.

Color Temperature - One colour temperature should dominate in your painting.  Use the contrasting colour temperature to draw attention to an area of your painting; likely the centre of interest.

Harmonious Grays - Paintings should have some quiet muted grays to let the viewer rest his/her eyes.  Complementary colours create greys or neutrals.  You can control the temperature of the grey by adjusting the ratio of complements.

Layering - By layering one can darken hues or create vibrant new ones and thus play up or tone down areas.  Build layers slowly so as not to obscure the underlying hue.  It's a good idea to test layered colour combinations on a scap piece of paper so you know what to expect.

I applied the idea of analagous colours in a recent painting of a couple dancing.  The dress was painted using analagous colours for the light, local and shadow colours in the fabric.  This created a very nice effect.  I used Quin Rose for the local colour, Quin magenta for the shadows and opera for the light values.  I was pleased with the result.

You may wish to check out Rose Edin's website.  I really love the vibrant watercolours she creates.  She certainly practices what she preaches.  If you have access to the 2010 article in the Watercolor Artist magazine, it is a qucik, informative read with great watercolour painting examples.  I found it a good review.


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February, 2021
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Art
Red Tide
SOLD Red Tide
Acrylic on Canvas
30 x 24 x 1.8 in.
Dutch Dockside Pub
Dutch Dockside Pub
Watercolour on Paper
15 x 11 in.
Watchful
Watchful
Watercolour on Paper
12 x 8 in.
Alpine Centurions
SOLD Alpine Centurions
Acrylic on Canvas
30 x 24 x 1.8 in.
Riel Reel
Riel Reel
Mixed Media on Canvas
20 x 15 x 1 in.
Gate Midway
SOLD Gate Midway
Acrylic on Canvas
12 x 12 in.
Eat Fish
SOLD Eat Fish
Mixed Media on Paper
12 x 16 in.
Take Down
Take Down
Watercolour on Paper
29 x 23
Ripples in Time
Ripples in Time
Acrylic on Canvas
20 x 16 in.
Feather Flow
SOLD Feather Flow
Watercolour on Paper
15 x 11
Frozen
Frozen
Acrylic on Clay Board
12 x 12 in.
Burnout
Burnout
Acrylic on Canvas
24 x 30 in.
Unwelcome Matt
Unwelcome Matt
Watercolour on Paper
22 x 15 x 1.5 in.
Natural Tree Ornament
Natural Tree Ornament
Watercolour on Paper
15 x 11 in.
Ever Watchful
SOLD Ever Watchful
Acrylic on Canvas
12 x 12
Boats for Sail
Boats for Sail
Watercolour on Paper
24 x 18 x 1.5
Beached
Beached
Watercolour on Paper
24 x 18 x 0.8
No Diving
No Diving
Acrylic on Canvas
24 x 12
Queen Spirited
Queen Spirited
Mixed Media on Mineral Paper
14 x 10 in.
Musical Ride
Musical Ride
Acrylic on Canvas
12 x 16
Good Luck Fish
Good Luck Fish
Acrylic on Canvas
20 x 16 in.
Harbingers of Spring
SOLD Harbingers of Spring
Watercolour on Paper
11 x 15 in.
Le Reve
Le Reve
Mixed Media on Mineral Paper
18 x 25 ft.
Girl with the Curls
Girl with the Curls
Ink on Paper
15 x 11 in.
Gourding the Tower of Posies
Gourding the Tower of Posies
Mixed Media on Paper
22 x 15 in.
Reaching for Freedom
Reaching for Freedom
Acrylic on Canvas
12 x 24 in.
Evidence of Spring
Evidence of Spring
Mixed Media on Paper
15 x 11 in.
Quo Vadis
Quo Vadis
Mixed Media on Paper
24 x 30 in.
Decked Out for Snow
Decked Out for Snow
Watercolour on Paper
15 x 21 in.
Olivia
Olivia
Watercolour on Paper
15 x 11 in.