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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paper Collage Techniques with Nita Leland

Here's a clip from my new video, Paper Collage Techniques, now showing on ArtistsNetwork.tv.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Little Writer

It seems the Little Artist is a budding author now. She brought several of her creations with her yesterday, when she came to deliver Girl Scout cookies. (She's a "Daisy" scout--I didn't know they had scouting for such young girls, but it's great.) Her books all had 5-8 pages and a colored-paper cover with the title on it. She wrote every word herself. She has been writing stories for a while now, but she used to leave out the vowels, so she was the only one who could read them. She makes up her own spelling, which improves with every effort. Her people-drawing has really progressed. The detail in her pictures is amazing. One of her books is based on "High School Musical 2. There are up to three people on every page, who are recognizable throughout the book. Always a blue sky strip with sun at the top. A big box for the stage, a small box for the piano. A different style dress on each girl. She also had a book of fashions that she had made up, and a book of stars. She had just learned to make a 5-pointed star, so she created pages with different designs and stories for the stars. She just loves to make books. Where does this come from?

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mozart Jazz Freight Train

Thursday, February 19, 2009

self portrait lesson

Here's the self-portrait demo I posted awhile ago in video form. My first attempt at video demo. It had music, but the audio got lost somewhere.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Workshops in Rising Sun, Indiana

Here's a brochure for Rising Sun workshops organized by Vera Curnow in Indiana. I'll be teaching a 2-day creativity workshop there July 11-12. She has a nice assortment of subjects and instructors. I love the two- and three-day formats. They're very doable and affordable. Check it out. Contact Vera.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Collected self portraits

Here's a link to all the class portraits.

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Hithergreen watercolor moving right along

The self-portrait project is pretty well finished now and most of the class is doing other things. There are a few who are doing portraits of other people, though, so we're seeing great improvement in these. Dennis had to miss several classes, but made up for it with his excellent likeness in his self portrait.

Jane tried a new twist in this one--a profile delineated with ink lines and tinted with watercolor. This has been a favorite technique of hers since we first tried it several months ago. I like her handling of the lines here.

Liz also missed classes, but painted this without a reference photo. The painting has a fresh and spontaneous look that I like.

I also did a brief demonstration on painting "glow," which you can see in a previous demonstration project on my Web site. However, I did the new demonstration wet-in-wet entirely.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

AWS controversy resolved

Yesterday AWS issued an announcement regarding the controversy over the Gold Medal winner in the 2008 show. The artist has been required to return the medal and the cash award and is forbidden to enter any future AWS shows. The statement was lengthy and essentially said what everyone already knew: the AWS prospectus is clear on originality and medium, and artists who enter accept those terms when they sign their entry forms. Case closed. I can't help wondering what took them so long.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Creating Confident Color with Nita Leland

Here's a clip from my new video, Creating Confident Color, coming soon from ArtistsNetworkTV.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4 more class self portraits

Just about all the self portraits are finished now. I had difficulty photographing these for some reason, but you can get the idea. Ron's self portrait is a fantastic likeness. (His caricature is below in an earlier post.) We matted off most of the blue area at the right and later decided it might be better with the blue, but I didn't think to shoot another photo.

Don is a relative beginner to art and watercolor, but he's always game to participate in the current challenge. He decided to do a caricature and did a good job. He actually captured his sense of humor, and the heavy eyebrows and full face are characteristics of his natural features.

Ely's self portrait is a combination of line and wash that is distinctive from all the other self portraits. It's very well done and is a good likeness. I like the high-key quality of the painting.

Pat glazed washes over one of her self-portrait drawings from the earlier lesson. There's some camera shake in the photo, but you can see the face is beautifully painted and very lifelike.

There may be one or two more yet to come, but we're also working on learning about watercolor paints.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Revisiting the Golden Mean

Not having a scientific bent, I've never tried to analyze the whys and wherefores of the Golden Mean, but I have read that in design tests, this proportion is almost invariably selected by subjects as the most pleasing proportion of a rectangle. It is found in nature (for example, a chambered nautilus) and was used in art by the Greeks and some Renaissance artists. It has always been a mystery to me why watercolor paper manufacturers don't make their standard sheets in this proportion. A half sheet (15 x 22")of Imperial size (22 x 30") is about as close as you can get. I don't think thirds" cuts it. More like 3:5 or 5:8.

Here are a couple of ways to find the "ideal" location for a focal point,
regardless of the dimensions of your surface. One is the "rule of thirds," which divides the surface in thirds each way and places the focal point at any intersection of lines. Another is "rabatment," which consists of drawing diagonals from corner to corner, then drawing a perpendicular line from any corner to a diagonal. See this diagram on my Web site FAQ page. (Scroll down to diagram.)Both methods provide four "sweet spots" to choose from as your focal point, each spot being a different measure from every edge of the paper or canvas.

Another interesting way to divide your space is shown in an my earlier design tools blog.

Ed Whitney always said to locate your center of interest a different distance from all four sides. That's it in a nutshell. Although don't hesitate if you find a good reason to put it smack-dab in the middle.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Stop me before I glaze again.

I got so much done yesterday, after I finally quit picking at my self portrait. As much as I love watercolor, I can see that it might be better to use acrylics or oils for portraits, so you can make substantive corrections if you have to. That is almost impossible in watercolor in most cases where you might have made an error in lining up the features or painting the eyes. I finally figured out what was bothering me about my painting. When my sister took the photo, we were kidding around and I had a livelier expression, whereas in my painting, my expression is more introspective. The watercolor seems to show my inner nature. Or am I just rationalizing? Oh, well. I hope next week I can find time to tackle my granddaughter's portrait that I used in my first portrait demo three weeks ago.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

My guilt trip

After badgering my class to paint their self portraits, I began to feel guilty. I did a self-portrait drawing from a mirror once, which is in my Creative Artist books, but I've never painted myself. So here it is, with some of the steps in the process. First, I used a photograph taken several years ago, which I enlarged to 8" x 10" and placed under a plastic grid. Then I doubled the grid size onto tracing paper and made my sketch to fit a 15" x 22" sheet of Winsor & Newton 140# watercolor paper.

Next, I painted the eyes to get the shapes, but not the detail. I blocked in the structure of the head and neck using Davy's gray and cerulean blue watercolors. This stage looks ghostly, but it does help you to put in strong shapes at the beginning, so you can capture dimension in the head and features. On top of the shadows, I layered thin glazes of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and Winsor red for the skin.

I painted the lips, which really brought the face to life. Then I drew a few details in the straw hat, which I didn't want to be too busy. I also laid in the shadows on the folds of the scarf wrapped around the hat, but I decided to simplify the design and color and painted it freehand. I also painted in the detail on the earring. The one in the photo was twisted, so I used a different one from my jewel-case.

Here's the portrait after the scarf and shirt were completed. I enhanced the skin color and warmed up some of the dark shadows. I'm not sure if I'm finished. I'm thinking of softening the shadows in the neck. They need to be there, but they seem a little harsh. I didn't capture my expression exactly, but I think you can recognize me, anyway. At least, as I tell my class, it looks human. Here's a larger image.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

More student self portraits

Eight of the students completed or revised their self portraits at home between classes or finished them today. The variety of styles and approaches to color is fascinating. This lesson has had a big impact on their ability to observe proportion and detail. Nancy's portrait here is a big improvement over her two shown in last week's blog. Her first attempt was flat and out of proportion, although it had some nice color areas. The second one was much better and had some dimension. This one is very nice, with lovely flesh tones.

Sylvia's self-portrait from a photograph is an excellent likeness. The eyes are very lifelike and beautifully painted. I also like the way she has handled her hair. Her photograph didn't show enough of the hair, so she used a different photo for that. The gray brushstrokes that define her hair are very nice. Her choices of color are pleasing, as well.

Suzanne's likeness is recognizable, if not exact. Her self portrait is nicely painted and suggests her lively personality and a twinkle in her eyes. Her hair could be developed a tiny bit more, with a slight shadow under the edge along her forehead, to give it more dimension. I like the contrast of the blues and greens with the flesh tones.

Patty was one of the brave souls who painted her self portrait using a hand mirror. This is a wonderful portrait on its own, even though it doesn't capture her sparkle and beauty. She said she didn't want to grin at the mirror, which accounts for her somber expression. Patty is excellent with children's faces in particular and had no problem with the proportions of the features.

Pat redid her portrait from last week and improved the features with more modeling and detail. In spite of the source material, which wasn't a very clear photo in the first place, she managed to do a better job this time. This does point up the importance of good reference material, though. An experienced portrait painter can "fill in the blanks," because she knows the structure of the face. For others, it's often guess work.

Maureen's self portrait is very colorful. She is bold with color and brushwork in this portrait based on a photograph. She was somewhat disappointed with the likeness, but artists often are, with their own self portraits. Everyone in the class admired this lively face.

Lynda is developing a spontaneous, expressionistic style that works well in her self portrait. The wild colors and flying brushwork are very exciting. She had problems with proportion in the lower half of the face and her eyes are somewhat enlarged, but that contributes to the expressiveness of the portrait. Working with a mirror, she discovered as others did who tried it, that it's difficult to capture proportions and likeness.

Linda's portrait of her husband from a photograph is well observed and painted. It's a good likeness and the eyes are done especially well. The colors that contrast the blue shirt with the warm tones of the rest of the picture make a harmonious portrait.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Fun weekend, winding down

The weekend wasn't what I had planned, but was even more fun. Jenna came over Friday afternoon for her sleepover and in the morning we baked sugar cookies from scratch. She was involved in the process from breaking the eggs to frosting the cut-out hearts we made. It took forever, but she was having a good time and we didn't have anything else we needed to do. The rest of the family came over later to pick her up and Daniel sported a new haircut. After they all left, I continued to play with Facebook. I won't be spending so much time there now that I have figured out how it works. It has really been great to hear from students and friends I haven't been in touch with for many years. Earlier in the week I worked on a self-portrait drawing, but I haven't had time to put any paint on it or on the one I started of Jenna. Maybe this coming week. Can't wait to see what my class has done with their self portraits this week.

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