Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Still Life of Canisters.  Do they look 3D?  That was
the hope.  
For the last several weeks, I've been taking a painting class at Klamath Community College with Joni Leaf.  Since I have gaping holes in my understanding of painting techniques, with the majority of my knowledge being hard-won through my own experiments on the canvas, having an organized approach has been fantastic. Joni creates a warm and supportive environment, and is great at throwing in little details that save you some hardship, from reminders to put your water and paints to the right (if you're right-handed) so you're not crossing over your canvas with drippy brushes, to remembering to step away from your painting on a regular basis to get a more true perspective (one that disappears when you spend too much time 6 inches from the canvas).

We've created color wheels and value charts, and talked about the importance of observation and light source, and also just had a fine time playing around with pencils and paints.

Yesterday, we worked on a still life of three canisters of different colors and heights.  As usual, I took some liberties with the colors (there should be more a purple tone to the blue, and more orange in the red - and who knows where the green background came from), but I did try to work on having the light, medium and dark in each shape so they look three dimensional. In part, that meant making the darks darker than I might normally have done (as noted previously, I can be wimpy about having actual contrast).  We have been painting using only three colors - red, blue & yellow - so that a lot of paint mixing is required.  Our previous work on a color wheel gave me a better understanding of what, using my own paints, the mixing was likely to create, so it was a little less hit-or-miss on creating colors. Also, big things like darkening the value of a color using the complementary color was revelatory to me. I'd just been winging it with adding blacks and browns or whatever color seemed to be missing in some vague way.  It was a relief to have more of  plan, even if that plan, ahem, didn't always come out the way I expected.

Contour Drawing 2
Contour Drawing 1
Another fun, fast exercise we've worked with is Contour Drawings - which for me has meant drawing without the stress, since the idea is that they improve your observation skill more than create fine art.  The rules are that you draw an image a) without actually looking at your paper as you're drawing, and b) without lifting your pencil from the paper.  We were randomly given faces of people cut out of magazines to use as models.  The interesting thing is that the attitude of the person comes out even though the face may be skewed in a million different ways - expression is in the details, so if you can capture those details correctly, it doesn't matter as much if his eyes are lined up with his chin.

The picture I was copying was of a very nice looking male model with some pouty attitude.  You can see that attitude even if my versions aren't nearly as symmetrical as his chiseled jaw and cheekbone.  You can also tell where I decided what things looked like more than actually following the original drawing (e.g., his hair on the 3rd drawing was just the idea of his hair, rather than any contour I was following - oops).

Contour Drawing 3 - Drew the face on
the right first, and then started over to
do the one on the left, once I was a wee
bit more focused. 
Contour drawings are good warm-ups, to get you into an arty frame of mind before sitting down at the easel.  I was aware of the days where I was distracted with other things to begin with.  I recommend them as a meditative fun process.

Sadly, I will miss the remaining classes of this series as I'll be traveling next week.  But I'm grateful to have learned what I have, and enjoyed time immersed in color, shape, light and creation.

No comments:

Post a Comment