April 2, 2022 at 7:17 am #2289261
Day 28 01/04/2022
I was thinking just the other day that lately even my bad paintings were looking better than my best paintings of 3 months ago. Well, this little still life came along to teach me that there’s always new lows to sink to! 🙂 I thought I’d jump on the daffodil bandwagon, but I ended up spending a few frustrating hours scraping back and reworking it. I just couldn’t get any of it going properly. I just couldn’t make it better, so I gave up.
I think the key problem was (1) uncertain value hierarchy, especially in the shadow area which was very subtle and gradated, and (2) compositionally, just the head of the daffodil out of a tiny little vase just looked a bit weird.
I’ve been reading more of Stapleton Kearn’s blog – I do hope he writes a book some day. Some key points I took away from today’s reading:
- The main lines of a landscape should be convex, which suggest energy and vitality
- Rhythm is the relationship between these lines; they should simultaneously differ and share similar movements.
- Overlapping lines suggests depth and recession.
- Lines should decrease in size as they recede
- Avoid repetition. The volumes of shapes made by lines shouldn’t repeat, nor should they be parallel to each other or the frame.
- Perhaps most importantly, none of this stuff happens by accident and will rarely all occur in nature, it must be designed – put there by the artist.
Practice Time: 3hApril 3, 2022 at 2:41 pm #2294367
Day 29 02/04/2022
A little sketch, not from life, but a reference photo from Introduction to Landscape Painting. It’s funny what becomes obvious once I upload the photo – all the verticals are wonky! Leaning tower 🙂
Eh, I wasn’t feeling it. The light effect had to be invented, which never really works. The foreground is formless. I seem to be struggling more and more with skies. I might go back and watch Kearns a bit more, he has an interesting approach. But the whole sketch was a bore and I think it shows. What lesson have I learned? Hmmm. Perhaps to remember to pick one motif, one subject, and ensure all the other elements of the painting defer that one thing. What’s the motif of the sketch below? Who knows 😀
Practice Time: 3hApril 5, 2022 at 4:46 am #2299324
Day 30 + 31 03-04/04/2022
- I watched part 20 ‘The white road’ from Fenske’s Introduction to Landscape Painting. That was the last remaining video – course completed! I’ll definitely revisit some of the learning modules to review the fundamentals, but I think I’ll turn to Kearn’s Designing Your Landscape Painting for demos as he spends more time explaining.
- I also watched a single lesson from Huston’s Introduction to Painting on ‘Impressionist Outdoor Color’. I tuned in out of curiosity as Huston’s lessons are always brilliant – I might go back to the beginning and follow the course thoroughly.
- On Sunday (03/04/2022) I spent an hour and a half outside to work on the piece below. It was the bright blue barn and the stretch of light reeds in the foreground that attracted me to the scene, set against the rolling hills around my house. The weather changed quickly and whilst I was out, the lighting was mostly front lit and diffused – so the picture lacked range and structure. I think I may have cropped the scene before me too closely. Not sure.
- On Monday (04/04/2022) I put aside another couple hours to conclude the sketch indoors. Right before I packed up the day before the sun suddenly came out and lit up the foreground – I snapped a picture, and tried to capture a bit of this when working in the studio.
The sketch definitely improved as I worked on it and instils something of the blustery conditions – but still leaves a lot to work on.
Practice Time: 4h (across two days)April 6, 2022 at 9:27 am #2303848Daniel DaigleKeymasterNo badges. No points.
Beautiful work Jac 🙂
feel free to share these on our NMA discord server
https://discord.gg/aMCr8XykykApril 6, 2022 at 9:45 am #2303866
Thanks Daniel, still so much to learn!
I’ll definitely give the Discord server a go. Cheers.April 6, 2022 at 2:35 pm #2304180
Day 32 05/04/2022
- I watched a third lesson from Huston’s Introduction to Painting on ‘Impressionist Outdoor Color’. Watching Huston work is always motivating.
- I finally got back into Russian Drawing Course too, watching the lesson on the zig-zag fold. I must keep going on the course and not neglect making time to draw.
- I started a still life for 30 mins – a vase of flowers on the window sill – but I lost the evening light before I got much further than the drawing stage.
- So, I set up some drapery of my own and spent the remaining 1h 30 on a charcoal sketch of a zig-zag fold.
Practice Time: 2hApril 7, 2022 at 2:42 pm #2305306
Day 33 06/04/2022
Not too much from me today.
- I’m several days into a still life that, for one reason or another, I’m doing in 30 minute bits. Not ideal.
- Once I lost the light, I just spent an hour copying/studying from a sketch of a couple trees by Arthur Streeton. Nothing fancy. Just a simple little study.
I need to carve out more time for theory; reading books and watching NMA videos. I am taking a look at Kearn’s blog, which is gold.
On Over-modeling: Kearn’s mentions “Over expression of the halftones in the light creates a problem called over modeling and causes a dirty look in a painting.” He says this in the context of maintaining a clear separation of light and dark; always knowing with every brush stroke which one it is.
He also usefully defines the unity of effect as when “The thing holds together. It is one cohesive statement and not a handful of conflicting and individual parts.”
Practice Time: 1.5hApril 8, 2022 at 1:06 pm #2306079
Day 34 07/04/2022
- I watched Huston’s lesson on the Zorn palette from Introduction to Painting.
- I spent an hour on the still life sketch below, having already spent an hour or two on it over the course of a few days. I can’t explain why, but I struggled with it from the start. Everything from the values, to the drawing, to the colours. I just never managed to bring it together. I kept looking at the work of Amy Florence for a bit of inspiration, as she does these amazing paintings of cut flowers – but alas, even this couldn’t salvage my efforts. I think the main problem was getting values right when the light changed every day.
I read a few pages of Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts (pgs 43-49)
- “The crux of good composition lies in seeing what your painting in terms of abstract masses and their relationship to the picture plane”. Just a reminder that the details of a painting are built on the handful of abstract value shapes. Both Kearns and Fenske mention this same idea, that a painting should “read” from across a room.
- Think in value masses, not subjects. Seek out simple designs with drama. When painting plein air, decide on your design and stick with it.
- Think about the visual strength and beauty of your shapes.
- Damn it Jac, do more thumbnails!
Practice Time: 2hApril 9, 2022 at 8:08 am #2306676
Day 35 08/04/2022
- Nothing too exciting today. I worked up a postcard-sized study of a landscape by Isaac Levitan to see what I could learn.
- He used features in the foreground meadow to create clear diagonals to the subject of the painting. The lighter grass to the right and left form triangles of difference sizes; the trail of white flowers; the trodden grass; all play their part leading the viewer to the middle-ground trees. I suspect this was almost all a matter of invention and design, and that very little of this existed as he painted it.
- I really liked how his trees ‘sat’ within the environment. They just had a sure sense of presence. I didn’t capture this in my little study, but I think it was achieved by the tight control of the edges, which are often desaturated and a transitional value. It seems that too much transition and you get blurry, formless blobs; no-transition and your trees look cut out.
- Lastly, the warmth of his sky. I just can’t get it. Whenever I throw warmer colours into the sky it starts looking like dusk, rather than a warm sunny day. Must do more sky studies.
From Mastering Composition (pg 50-59):
- Use a viewfinder to see big abstract shapes.
- Consider using gridlines within the viewfinder or on a reference to draw accurately.
- Always use vertical and horizontal lines to better gauge proportions and placement on the page.
- When searching out an original composition, keep the boundaries fluid to start with. Don’t commit too soon. Complete value sketches.
Practice Time: 2hApril 12, 2022 at 1:20 am #2315270
Day 36 09/04/2022
- I watched the second part of the zig-zag drapery for the Russian Academic Drawing course.
- I then attempted to set up zig-zag drapery around a cylindrical form. I sketched for an hour before accidentally knocking the thing over. There was no way I was going to be able to set it back up with the same folds, so all I’ve got to show for it is this lousy half completed sketch 😀
Practice Time: 1.5hApril 12, 2022 at 2:07 am #2315431
Day 37-38 10-11/04/2022
Over the last couple days:
- I have watched more from Huston’s An Introduction to Painting, specifically the lesson on colour mixing. It has really useful information about harmonising which was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. I already knew colour harmony could be achieved by ensuring colours includes bits of each other – effectively, desaturation with colour notes found elsewhere in the picture. But I hadn’t considered that harmony could also be achieved with temperature, by nudging the palette of colours warm/cool. I’ll definitely have to experiment with this.
- Inspired by an indoor still life I saw on Amy Florence’s Instagram, I worked on one myself that borrowed some of the same ideas – the nighttime backdrop providing contrast with the bright lit flowers, the book overhanging the sill edge, the warms and cools in the lights.
- I actually like how it turned out (photograph never quite does the original justice). The composition is decent, the mirror adds interest, the daffodils pop, value structure is clear. There is plenty I would change still. I struggled to get variety into the window sill – it’s tricky to make something with a dark local colour look like it’s brightly lit. Perhaps I should have used more saturated, darker, colours. White just makes it look chalky, not bright. Drawing is a bit iffy in places. Not a bad sketch though.
Practice Time: 5.5 hrs (over 2 days)April 15, 2022 at 9:38 am #2322763
Day 39 13/04/2022
- I started a still life, spending an hour drawing and laying in, but as I progressed I was less and less enthusiastic about it. Originally, I liked the dark silhouette of the daffodils against a bright outdoor scene – but the light changed on me quickly. I then didn’t think the composition was interesting enough on its own without an eye-catching light effect – so I cut my losses and chalked this one down to a “naah”.
Practice Time: 1.5h
Day 40 14/04/2022
Admittedly, I have struggled during this 100 day challenge to find any sort of rhythm to my art practice. This was particularly the case today. So, feeling a bit listless, I just found a reference photo online and “mindlessly” worked on a little landscape sketch. I just focused on relaxing, having a little play around with the colours and not worrying so much about getting anything out of it.
Practice Time: 2hApril 18, 2022 at 6:02 am #2328842
I really need to update every day, hard to remember otherwise!
Day 41 15/04/2022
- Not much time for art today, just an hour’s sketch of a skull model. My plan was to do a sketch, then a grisaille painting, then colour – but I only managed enough time to get an initial sketch in. Will pick it back up in a few days.
Practice Time: 1h
Day 42 16/04/2022
- It was a nice day, so I got out for a bit of outdoor painting.
Practice Time: 2hrs
Day 43 17/04/2022
- I watched week 1 of Villpu’s Elements of Traditional Composition. Composition is a real weakness of mine. Selecting the right picture to paint from a vista is often the hardest part of painting for me – so I’m hoping the course will provide some insight. To this same aim, I also intend to put aside more time for art history and studying paintings.
- I spent a good few hours working on the previous day’s painting. Over all, I’m not dissatisfied. It was a challenging scene to depict – too complex and busy, ultimately. Too many things competing for attention. Again, a composition issue. I also continue to struggle with bare tree trunks – what colour are they anyway? But the scene threw up a lot of problems and it was a fun process getting to solve some of them.
Practice Time: 3.5hrsApril 19, 2022 at 12:49 pm #2334850April 20, 2022 at 12:54 pm #2337272
Day 45 19/04/2022
- Two hour value sketch from life. Not much more to say, except that working with just black and white is a real pleasure. Definitely less taxing without having to mix colour, allowing greater focus on drawing and other aspects.
Forgive the bad photo, dark paint always seems to throw a glare and flatten shadows. I could have continued to work on this sketch as almost no time/effort went into the ground plane or backdrop, but I was enjoying working quickly. The main focus was on the drawing and getting the values right. Now to do the same but in colour….
It isn’t really part of my art practice, but I’m making good progress through In Natures Temple, a book about William Wendt. Highly recommend if you’re interested in American landscape art.
Practice Time: 2h
New Masters Academy The Best Value in Art Education