- Lesson Details
In week two, at Caspers Wilderness Park, instructor Stapleton Kearns introduces you to his color palette. You will study the concept of balancing between design and observation in landscape painting. Next, Stapleton explains how to apply shape posters in your artwork, in order to take control of the viewer’s eyes. This lesson includes an interview with Stapleton.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
Transcription not available.
You sure you want to go through with this?
Here we are.
I've got nature behind me.
That's what I want to paint, that scene up there.
I like those mountains.
I like the color of them.
I like the fact that I got some things.
This picture they're way out there.
Some are closer in, I've got the shadows across the foreground.
It looks like I could make a picture here.
You know, when I first get onto a location, I look at it and you know,
there's trees out there and that mountain, they're going to look the same almost
no matter where I stand out here.
So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to walk across back
and forth and shop for a foreground.
I'm going to find where the foreground looks best.
So I walked over there and looked at it from 10 feet that way.
And I walked over behind me and looked at it from 10 feet that way, just seeing
how the things in the foreground line up, because I march back and forth out here,
things in the foreground move around, the background stays about the same.
I could walk 30 feet that way.
And there's - those mountains back ther will look about the same.
Now I've set up my Gloucester easel here.
Remember me telling you about the Gloucester easel.
One of the things about the Gloucester easel is although is it's
got legs, big legs, on the back, you've got three legs on the back.
This is true with your tripod too, I guess.
But I like to put that back leg towards the light.
The sun's up there.
I put it out, I set it up like this, but of course, then the nature's
completely behind me, but I don't want to turn that easel so much that it
goes so I've got this sun on my canvas.
And when you see those old guys Monet and those guys with umbrellas
outside it's not because they were bothered by having being in the sun.
They weren't worrying about their tan.
The reason that Monet and those old guys had umbrellas is to
keep the light off their canvas.
It's virtually impossible to accurately judge your values and your
colors with the sun on your canvas.
So I always, always have my canvas in the shade and I'll turn my
easel until it's in the shade.
Again, I'll take my hand, put it like this.
I can see when it comes into the light, there's the angle where my - the
back of my hand goes into the shade.
I know I can paint - I can face my canvas anywhere within that range.
Now people work in sight-size want their canvas right up next to nature
there, I guess that would mean you'd have to have an umbrella.
I've got - I'm dragging enough stuff with me already.
I don't care to have another thing to haul around, so I don't
really use umbrellas outside.
Incidentally, it might be nice to have one one today.
It's 99 degrees out here.
But this is the my - we've talked about my palette.
We've got the easel.
I'm set up with my canvas in the shade which is why I'm not facing nature.
So I have to look over my shoulder at what's out there.
That's what interests me out there.
I do not work sight-size and unfortunately, it's so
hot I can't wear gloves.
Most of the time.
99% of the time when I'm painting, I wear my plastic gloves.
I use the nitrile gloves such as you might find at the auto
supply store, look like this.
Black nitrile gloves.
Some people use blue ones.
I like the black ones.
They're tougher, but it's too hot to use them today so I can't.
I've got my easel set up and I've asked myself, why am I here?
Why am I not looking that way?
What is it about this place that interests me?
Remember, I'm not looking for nouns.
I'm not looking for the old road home or Aunt Jennifer's farm.
I'm looking for arrangements of lines and shapes that set one another up.
I'm not looking for nouns.
I'm looking for arrangements of lines and shapes that set one another up.
And I find - I think I've found those here.
There it is.
I've got in the back of my mind though painting landscape is a little, like
you imagine doing figures in the studio while the model is dancing.
That's sort of what it's like out here.
That light's changing.
Every time I look up it's in a different place.
The shadows, everything's all moving so often I'm trying to think about what, you
know, what's it gonna look like an hour?
Occasionally I know a lot of times I'm surprised by what happens.
But I'm trying to think about, well, where's this landscape going?
If the sun's over there, what's going to happen?
I know these shadows are gonna fill in.
I don't know what's gonna happen those mountains, but we're gonna find out as I
work today, a lot of times it surprises and I attempt to make a poetic evocation
of that, which is in front of me.
I am a poet, not a journalist.
I feel absolutely no compulsion whatsoever to tell you the truth
about what's in front of me.
In fact all I care about is whether the painting looks good.
What's actually out there is nearly irrelevant to me.
I get way too hung up on what the painting actually looks like.
In face I don't think I care about anything else.
I only care about what the painting looks.
I bring as much of the landscape on the location with me, as I
find out there in front of me.
Once said said, nature is seldom if ever right.
I do what it takes to make a good picture.
If I don't like the way it is out there, I change it.
I want your eye to flow through the picture.
I want to arrange them the shapes are as different from one another as I can make.
I want a definite foreground, middle ground and distance.
I probably don't want it - if that tree, when I paint it looks like it has
a little face in it I don't want that.
I want to take it away.
I'm going to simplify things as best I can.
And I'm on trying to do things in a bold and interesting way.
And I'm going to translate in the language of paint.
I want my paintings to be two things at once.
It's paint, it's reality, it's nature.
It's paint, it's reality.
Particularly at distance, you look at it from six, eight, ten feet out.
It looks just like nature.
You'll walk in close it's paint.
They're both things.
They're paint and they're illusion.
I want to play on that line between those two things all the time.
It never leaves my mind that I'm making out of paint.
I want it to look like paint.
Let's see here.
I never knew used viewfinders, those little L shape things
you put together like this.
I call them design killers.
I think they're great for when you're just starting out, learning
to effectively place the canvas on - a painting on the canvas.
But after that, I think they're design killers.
I'm building an arrangement based on what's in front of me and not scrupulously
transferring it on the canvas.
So for me, viewfinders are design killers.
Again if you're just starting out, hey, it's great.
You learn to get painting on the canvas that way, but once you get
up and running with this thing, I don't advise using viewfinders.
It doesn't matter which one.
I wouldn't want to do it in the cadmium.
Well, I could do this with ultramarine.
I like cobalt violet for this purpose, oftentimes, but ultramarine works well
too, or ultramarine and burnt sienna.
In this case, I've got indian red.
I'm gonna look out there between my eyelashes.
Do you have eyelashes?
I look out there between my eyelashes, which simplifies the picture and I'm
going to look for what john Carlson writer once called the big poster shape.
You know, in the 19th century, posters were everywhere, but they weren't
posters made from photography like we used to now they're like this old
posters you saw theaters or the big ocean liners with their fronts, their
bows turned towards you, just a few big, simple shapes because in those days,
posters were made they're silk screens.
They could only throw a big couple big shape.
So I look out for there, for the big shapes that make the picture, the poster shape.
When I'm - when things are going well for me -and there's no guarantee that
that's going to happen today, this could be an absolute train wreck.
You know, every painting I go - I do - goes through three distinct steps and
they are as follows one: I'm almost done.
Two, boy I sure hope I'm doing this right.
And three, this was going to be really good.
Not like you think either.
I mean, really good.
So sometimes paintings go well for me, sometimes they don't.
I think that's part of the adventure.
Every time you came out here, you get a great picture.
Where's the fun in that?
So you make get to see me make a fine picture.
You may see a car crash here, a train wreck here, no telling, but
let's see if I can do it this day.
You know, I've been painting trees or trees out there.
I've been painting trees for 50 years and they still come out looking wooden.
Got some kind of shadows in here, here, I got dark on this side.
This tree comes up here, like so somehow.
Like that maybe.
I only put a little bit of turpentine into it here.
I'm keeping it really thin.
I want to keep this painting as thin as I can for as long as I can.
I want to stay out of that white.
As soon as I touched the white I'm locked down.
I can no longer shove the painting around.
Until I do I can take my rag and I can pull back to my lights, just like that.
As soon as I touched that white, I can no longer do that.
Painting's locked down.
So I'm going to stay out of that white.
As long as I can.
I want to stay as big as I can be.
Big marks, big brush, number 14, and I'm going to stay out of the white,
get the painting as transparent as I can for as long as I can tell.
Until I get a real handle on what this thing is going to look like.
I've been known to finish entire pictures this way, just a single color,
wiping back to get my lights and then come back a second day with color.
I'm not going to do that today.
Really the painting is supposed to be in front of this little thing here.
I like to put it up on top of it, and that's why I keep jumping around on me,
really supposed to be out here when I like it up on those pegs so I can see it.
When we were kids and they had lawn darts.
They called them jarts.
They were darts about this big and kids would play with them and
kids kept getting stuck on the top of their heads, foolish toy.
I don't think they make them anymore, but they had them when I was a kid,
called jarts and there were big, long darts about this big, real heavy
too, steel tip on about that long.
I sometimes imagine that I've got a stack of those lawn darts down
here beside me as on the ground.
And I'll pick one up and I'll throw it out and imagine myself throwing
it out there in the landscape.
That's going to stick somewhere.
Like I might throw a lawn dart out there and boing it sticks right there.
And I'll find that point.
That's the corner of that bottom of the tree.
You can see there's that little passage where there's a cut
through to just an area back there.
So I imagine I like thrown a lawn dart out there and mark that spot.
It's an index point in the painting.
I've gone out and marked.
That's where this thing's going to be.
And then I can make comparisons to it.
I can say, well, there's that point.
And if I go directly below that point, we've got about this much shadow there.
And then the light's in front of it, like here.
And to the right of that point, but just barely there's that light rock.
See that rock sticking up out there?
There's that light rock.
Just go out there and find that.
There's my next lawn dart.
Imagine I pick up a lawn dart, throw it out in the
landscape and stick right there.
And there's that - there's that rock right there.
Here's another one.
See that little streak of light runs across there?
At the very end of it a little bush shaped sort of like this.
It's to the right of this big mass here, I'll go in and I'll indicate that.
There's another point, a measuring point on my canvas.
I found - I've sunk a lawn dart out there and that's where that
little bush right there is.
And I know that beyond that point and above that point, it's bright out there.
I'll pull that out a little bit.
And then I noticed there's the end of those trees there.
Gee, I want to make sure I don't put this very important thing
right in the middle of the picture.
I got an inch or so.
I think I'll be okay.
Oh, what have we got there.
It's so hot out here that my paint is runny, it's fingering.
When you herd sheep, don't want your sheep getting too far ahead.
Don't want your sheep falling too far behind.
The idea is keep the whole flock marching along at once.
So the process isn't you go get the first sheep and you can grab them
tuck them under your arm and take them and throw them in the barn and
then go back and get the next sheep.
Sheep or female goats, you know,.The way you herd sheep is you look
for your furthest back straggler, you say to yourself, which of my
sheep has fallen furthest behind?
Now figure out what that sheep is and do I go out and grab it and
take it all the way to the barn?
I do not.
I find that furthest back sheep, furthest back straggler, and I grabbed him, I throw
him right in the middle of the flock.
And then I look and say, what's my next furthest back straggler, which of my
sheep has now fallen for this behind.
And yeah, I go back and I get that next, furthest back straggler.
And I throw it in the middle of the flock.
I'm doing that here.
I keep looking up there.
Which of my sheep has fallen furthest behind.
Is it the tree?
Is it this grouping of trees, is is the mountains, whatever.
And I go in there and I drop that sheep in and I try and finish it.
I just make it as good as the rest of the picture.
It's fallen furthest behind.
I'm gonna throw it in the middle of the flock and I'm gonna look up again, which
of my sheep has fallen furthest behind?
So I'm always looking for that part of my painting, which is lagging the rest.
I do that for an important reason.
I want it the whole picture to be developed at one, if I'm always working
on my furthest back straggler, the whole herd will march along as a group.
And that's important because if it's all made as a group, I get the most important
quantity that a work art can have.
And that's true for a Greek face.
It's true for a symphony.
It's true for a movie.
It's true in rock and roll.
It's true in literature, that quantity is unity of effect.
The most important quantity or quality that a work of art
can have is unit of effect.
It's one big unit apprehended as a whole on the canvas.
I don't want 25 separate paintings on this canvas warring for our attention.
Hey, look at me.
Look at me over here.
No, I'm over here.
I'm the rock.
I want it all to speak as one voice.
One big thing.
I want unity of effect.
Unity of effect.
I try and make all this painting at once.
You may be old enough - no, surely you're not, but if you were old
enough, you'd probably have heard stories of people using chemical
photography before there were digits.
And you'd throw that developed piece of paper down into that bath.
And it would gradually come into focus.
Polaroid shots did that too.
That's how I want my paintings to appear.
I want them to go from blur ever, ever more clear until I'm done.
So I worked from general specific.
I started out with a shovel.
I intend to finish with a needle so I can get unity of effect.
height and there are a lot the same size.
But I'm not going to make them that way because I want to
subordinate one to the other.
I don't want one for each eye.
I want always everything in the pain is subordinated to everything else.
It all works together as a whole.
And I only want one hero on my stage and I want one hero in any particular passage.
Everybody else is a supporting player.
And they can walk back towards the back of the set and shut up.
So when I've got two mountains of equal importance, one here and one here,
somebody is going to get dominant.
Somebody is going to become a secondary player.
That's one of the reasons why it's not possible for me just to come
out here and copy nature in front of me as exactly as I can, because
I am a poet and not a journalist.
I don't intend to present to you a laundry list of exactly what's in front
of me, laid out like an accountant.
I'm attempting to build a poetic arrangement based
on what's in front of me.
So that mountain has got to get shrunk.
You see what I mean out there in the end?
And this one's got to be the one.
I could reverse that, I could make this one the important one, but I'm
not going to, I'll make this one that's the big, important mountain.
And this one over here is the supporting player.
Generally, I assign importance to things by putting them at a
place of great contrast, putting them closer to the center of the
painting, putting them near what is my subject matter, but more commonly
by how much acreage I assigned them.
If I think something's really cool, I want to make it important, I make it bigger.
If I don't like something so much, I'll make it a little smaller.
I'll soft pedal it.
If I really dislike something, I throw it out.
I leave out stuff.
Were there a phone pole right out there I'd probably leave it out.
I don't need that.
In fact, most paintings bristle with useless detail.
And that's why I work on paintings in the studio.
You'll see that later.
Take them in the studio and I'm not going to be adding in details.
I'll be throwing them out.
Nature bristles within unnecessary detail.
My job is to sort it and keep only the essential and throw out
that which doesn't carry my story.
I just recently wrote actually I helped choose and wrote catalog for a show in
Rockport, Massachusetts of 150 pieces of work by the late Charles Movalli.
And Movalli used to say that never tell the truth.
I'd exaggerate everything.
I make everything a little brighter, a little darker, a little
bigger, a little smaller, but never ever tell them the truth.
I dunno if I really do that, but I have that in the back of my mind,
when I work out here, I've got all these voices talking to me.
There's ghosts out here, talking to me.
People have been saying things that bit I did about the sheep before remember
they are female goats, that bit I did about the sheep came from R.H.
And I'm guessing that he didn't think it up either.
Ives probably got it - he studied in Paris before, around the first World War.
I bet he picked it up over there.
I'll bet that's French in 19th century.
I heard it from Ives.
Well, there's a lot of things that go on and things I'll say
during the course of this lesson here, but that I didn't originate.
They've been handed down to me by generations of people
working over the years.
I would never have figured this out on my own.
Remember, I haven't touched my white so I can manipulate this as much as I want.
Although it's so hot now this stuff's going to flash dry on me.
In the winter or on a normal day, it'll set up, it'll all dry out out here.
It might in this heat, but ordinarily I could push a drawing
like this around as long as I want.
And sometimes I'll do that.
For a whole day, come back the next day with my palette full of different colors.
And see that tree over there?
I'm pushing it this way.
I'll pick up that tree, just like this and point it 30 feet to the right.
I want that tree.
Put the tree in my picture.
It's actually outside the picture over here.
This tree I'm putting in right here.
Actually, it's over here.
I'm moving it.
I want it.
I can take a tree out of my back, if I want, I can take a mountain out of
my memory and put it back there if I want, I don't ever tell them the truth.
Simply don't do it.
I've started this picture, just, just with the blue.
And I've used a little alizarin.
How come I didn't start out with like cad yellow?
Well, if I did, I'd be fighting the cad yellow, all the rest of the day.
It's very powerful pigment.
I'd fight it all day long.
When I'm painting on a white canvas, I'm basically plotting my
darks, that's job one out here.
I'm separating the lights from the dark.
So I'm painting.
I want to do it in a color.
I'd be happy to have it at the bottom of my darks, and that's
going to be a blue or a violet.
Something transparent, something probably cool.
And under warm light.
So that's a color I would be happy to have on the bottom of my
lights and be useful to me later.
Again, if I didn't cadmium yellow, it'd be right out, have a real mess.
When I tried to pay it, those shadows, but all of my shadows out here are going
to have some version of a cool blue or alizarin or some kind of violet in them,
that's bright sunlight and a hundred degree temperature that's what you get.
You get violet shadow.
I'm drawing right now on a white canvas, finding my shadows is
drawing and finding my darks.
If I were starting on a black canvas, I'd be out here with white finding my lights.
Because remember the darkest thing on this canvas is most different
from what's in front of me there.
So it is my furthest back straggler.
If I'm going to work here on the thing about this, which is most
different from that, my furthest back straggler is my darkest dark.
So I will plot my darks first.
If I were on a white canvas, my furthest back straggler - or if I
were on a black canvas, my furthest back straggler would be my lights and
my sky, but I'm on a white canvas so I'm going to find my darks first.
That's what drawing is on a white paper is finding your darks, this sort of drawing.
When I say drawing incidentally, I don't necessarily mean with a line,
like putting a string around something.
I think of drawing is drawing in masses.
So I draw lights in dark, the way a watercolorist might.
When I say drawing, I don't necessarily mean drawing a line with a pencil.
I moved that tree.
It's actually over here, but now that I've done it.
I wouldn't take a pretty good look at where it actually
falls and pick an area of here.
And I'll actually work it out just because I move it doesn't
mean I ignore what it looks like.
I can move it.
I have to have it in the back of my head though, where it looked differently if
I put it there, would this have to get smaller to move, would it have to get
bigger to go to different perspective.
It calls for decision making, but I'll actually still go in and
build it either by observation.
I'll notice this clump is here.
That clump is there just as if I was painting it over there.
And I always have different ideas how I want designs to work.
I have designs that are balanced beams.
I have designs that are pyramids.
Another design that I use a lot, and this could be a balance beam design
I suppose, here's one object balanced by the weight of this over here.
The object design like uses vortexes.
I like to make a painting that hauls you in and won't let you out.
So when I can, I'll make a painting as a vortex, I'll suck you in.
I'll keep you as long as I possibly can.
This painting is going to go into a gallery.
It's going to hang on a wall with 50 other paintings.
I want to attract your attention, hold it.
There's a number of ways I do that.
But my design is the number one reason.
Design's what takes, grabs, and holds people's attention.
Your subject matter won't do that.
Your subject matter, you paint a picture of a horse.
Some people are particularly interested in horses they'll stop and look
at it, but if you're really going to hold people, you need to have a
beautiful design picture of a horse.
And if there's a pictures well enough designed, you'd
probably leave the horse out.
It's not what it's a picture of that's important.
It's how it's a picture of.
Tell some lies about that tree to keep it in the picture.
Where's my rock I so carefully placed.It's up here isn't it?
Where am I going to root that tree?
Well, I better root that tree.
Well, I better figure that out.
I think I'm gonna leave it right where it is.
You know, when I put the frame on this picture, gonna cover
up that much of the painting.
And I don't like things jammed up against the picture frame.
So nothing ends within this close of the edge canvas, nothing starts there.
Nothing ends there.
Otherwise it's going to jam up and form a tangent with the edge of the canvas.
I'll just remember this much is going in the frame.
I'm always aware of that.
I'm laying in the picture.
I'm trying to get - wrestle this thing together on the canvas.
I want this side of the picture to end here.
I want this tree I know I don't want it running out of the top of the canvas and
I don't want it over there outside of the canvas so I shove it over this way.
I want to make sure that doesn't hit up against the frame.
I know I don't want that.
I'm establishing where everything goes on the canvas, trying to get a feel of
what the thing's going to look like.
I'm not putting in any little details.
I'm not committing to anything smaller than about a hamburger.
I'm making hamburger size decisions on this painting right now,
throwing hamburgers sized chunks.
Later on, I may throw smaller and smaller decisions at it, but for right now,
I want to get the big shapes working.
I want to get it to a point where I can step back and say, does the
design work, is this arrangement of lights and darks is it attractive?
Is this going to work?
Sometimes I have a focal point.
Sometimes I just have arrangement of lines, shapes, and colors that
set one another off, I don't know if I really have a focal point,
I suppose this is it right here.
I know I've heard people say, always have to have a focal point.
And I don't necessarily, I think often you have to have a focal point,
but I don't know that I always do.
But I have to have - more importantly for me, I need an arrangement of some
large shapes and some small shapes, some globby things, some pointy
things, some things that go like this and other things that go like that.
I want as many different unusual shapes as I can get one arrangement
of interesting shapes, different sizes with different thrusts to them.
This thing thrusts up that way, and these things go up like this, I've
got the lights they're going to come in like so, I want different
thrusts and different angles.
And I want all the shapes to be about as different from one another
in the area that they cover in their thrust in how much colors
into my - arrangement of shapes.
They're all different from one another so I get the greatest amount
of visual interest and I design, I police my shapes to make sure they're
not repeating over and over again.
You've seen a lot of times that people have the same interval through everything.
You look at a painting, everything, the whole painting is everything's this far
apart at the same interval all over.
I do my best to have different intervals, different spaces between things.
I worked very hard to get the greatest amount of variety I can
in the painting because that's what it'll hold the viewer's attention.
And I think I've got, we've had so much wind and so much dust blow through in the
last few minutes, I've got the sniffles.
You'll have to excuse me for sniffling a little bit.
We have a minor dust storm here a minute ago.
And I want to add a little color, start going some color.
I've got my plan - might as well add my color.
And when I start putting color into a painting, I'll look at an area and I'll
equalize the color over the whole area.
I'll say, well, what color is it mostly?
I also don't like this color right here.
Here's a color that appears a lot in nature.
And I've seen a lot of paintings with way too much of this color right here.
See it, see this color right here?
It's made with the viridian and cadmium yellow.
That color right there.
I don't like it.
I don't want whole paintings made out of it.
And oftentimes when I go out into nature, everything in
front of me is the same green.
Dripping with green.
I want my page - maybe I want my page to be the color of $500 suits.
I want to decide what colors are in my paintings, including those I like
and excluding those I don't like.
I may or may not use the colors that are in front of me in nature.
I have to have the capacity to do that.
I have to be able to record accurately any note that's ahead of me.
That's a skill that I have to have.
But in actual practice making a painting, I may not do it.
I still have not used - I guess I have touched the white, but
I haven't used much of it.
I only used it to make this note that I said I didn't like.
I have still, I'm staying out of this white.
I'm gonna keep this thing as transparent as I can for as long as I can
I look out there, I'll ask myself, what color is it mostly?
Just what's the big average?
If I take all the bunches of colors that make that object and I average
them together, what do I get?
What's the average color from that area.
Look out there, all those trees, and I see it all as some sort of
a, you know, a dark like this.
It's got some light passengers I'm going to come and drop those in.
But for now after the big darks, I'm going to put the darks in because that's how I
find my way around a painting by the dark.
I'm on a white canvas.
They're most different from nature in front of me.
And I want to simplify, I want to present things as simply as I can.
I can make it more complicated later.
But for now, I want to keep it simple as I can.
Ideally I'd have a handful of big poster shapes and then I can cut those up later.
Chop them up in evermore refinement.
But for now I want the big poster shapes.
Wind starting to blow now, see the leaves moving across the ground
here was absolutely still before now the wind started to blow.
That's not gonna slow me down.
I don't care about that because this easel won't bow down.
At least this easel blows down it's time to try and get under - go
get underneath your car maybe.
When this easel blows down run get underneath your car.
Originally, this easel was favored by seascape painters, because
again, it just didn't blow down.
I'll always go for the value first then I can inject the color afterward.
Value is closer to the root of the thing, this is a drawing,
values are part of drawing.
Color is merely a decoration you hang on your drawing.
So I'll get the value right or the way I want it to be.
And I can always drop the color into it then.
But if I had to make choices, I'm going for the value.
I can worry about the color later.
In fact, if I get the values right in a picture I can use almost any color I want.
I can paint those trees Brown, plenty of paintings with - old
master paintings with brown trees.
Look at them we don't say why are the trees brown.
We read them, they look great.
I can almost make things any color I want.
I have the ability to carefully hit exactly every color in front of me.
And sometimes I want to try that ability up.
But most of the time I'm much more concerned with the value of
the pattern of values and colors.
And when I can, I like to link my darks, hook those values to one another.
So then rather than a bunch of dark shapes all over the painting, I could
set my brush on the painting and prattle throughout the entire painting through
the dark without once lifting my brush.
Rather than have lots of little darks gathered all over the picture, if I can
get one great big one, that prattles through the whole picture that's better.
The ideal picture, the perfect picture.
There's one great, big dark and a smaller area of light with a little
dark in it, or one great big light and a smaller area of dark little light in it.
A little spot.
I won't achieve that end, but one of the ways I simplify pictures and pull them
together is by linking my darks because you cannot observe design into a painting.
thing I know, and it's important for another reason, because we're in an
era where people, the whole plein air thing, I think has encouraged an idea
that somehow it's perfect out there.
And if you can just show up and record it really what's really there you
can make a great painting and no one ever went the museum and mistook one
of the great paintings for a window.
I never said, Oh, look out that window.
Oh, there isn't a window.
That's a painting.
Great paintings don't look like windows, they're arranged.
They're a dance, sort of awaltz between the artist and nature.
It's the artist it's nature, and both of them are present in that canvas.
And that's what gives a painting a feeling and personality is that
you look through that painting and you see the artist behind it.
He's made decisions.
He's presenting the world.
So you cannot observe design into a painting.
You've got to think, make decisions.
If you're not making decisions, you're not making art.
You've made - I know people, artists who eschew the use of
photography, no photography involved.
They don't take pictures when they're working.
There's no photography involved.
Yet they've taught themselves to work so closely to the appearance of nature that
they have made of themselves meat cameras.
We are not meat cameras.
We're poets, making decisions without feelings, ideas into the painting you will
not observe feeling into your painting.
You have to put it there.
You got to feel something.
And if you don't feel something, you kind of have to stop and say, well, how do I
feel about what's in front of me here?
What's this look like?
Why do I like it?
How does it make me feel?
Am I excited about this place?
Is it beautiful?
Is it doing something to me?
Why am I painting this?
Would I rather be in the studio, painting books and bottles or
crouching over a slide projector?
You know, we have to learn to paint this outside.
You cannot learn to paint landscapes in the studio.
Learning to paint landscapes from a photograph is like learning
to swim at home on the sofa.
The darkest dark I can make on this palette right here is alizarin - or excuse
me, viridian with alizarin thrown into it.
I can make Squid's ink.
So that's the darkest dark.
I can make.
Viridian with alizarin in it.
And I don't use it very often.
I want to hold those for accents at the end of the picture, but
there's - if I want to make a super dark, that's how I do it.
But I spend those very, very frugally.
Be certain not to make big areas of my painting.
I keep them as accents.
See here are dark accents.
I imagine you and I are playing in a rock and roll band, right?
I'm the lead guitarist.
We're playing along and I got the amps turned up all the way.
Then it comes time for me to play my solo and I walked
through the front of the stage.
And everybody's amps are already on 11.
I can't play louder than the rest of the band.
Nobody can hear my solo.
I'm not any louder than the bass player, or the rhythm player.
So the second set or the second song we play, I go back and I
turn all the amps down on six or seven, and then we're playing along
and it comes time for my solo.
I reached back, I turn up that amp and I'm screaming.
You can hear me because I'm louder than the rest of the band.
If all the amps were set on 10, I can't turn up.
If I've got the amp set on six or seven, then I can turn up.
So I don't run my amps on 10.
I don't have the dark there's darks out here.
I don't have the highest amount of color.
I keep it all a little restraint.
Keep that amp on seven.
And then when I want to drop a dark into something, I can do it.
It'll show up against what I've already got.
So I run my amps on about a seven most of the time, so I can throw accents
above and below the notes I have here.
I'll do the same thing in the lights.
I don't paint them just straight white.
I'll paint them a little darker than that.
So when it comes time to throw a light accent, I can do it.
It'll show up.
I've got some guesses, everything that goes on here, right.
Remember herding sheep.
I've got a guess as to all this stuff right here.
Doesn't looked like much, but I've got a guess there.
Now my furthest back straggler was this stuff.
I haven't done anything to it.
It's still in that blue.
So I'm going to move back here and throw some color at that.
See what happens.
Well, that's not true.
I like chickens,
All kinds of variations in color out there.
And I don't care.
Right now I'm asking myself, what color is it mostly.
What's the big color shape out there?
Look how much color I've got down here.
How much paint I've got going here now.
Remember I was working so thinly here, but now I've got - I'm
painting with actual paint.
You got to make a painting out of paint.
You can not shove around turpentine or mineral spirits
until you've got a painting.
You can't push it around.
At some point, you've got to make colors down here on the palette
and lay them in place up here.
Oftentimes I think of making tile, I'm making tile and make the tile
down here and install it up here.
It's important to me now to start building up paint.
I'll build up more later, but I've got a good idea where everything's going.
So I'm gonna actually start using some paint.
I'm going to make this picture out of paint.
Move that mountain.
I can move mountains with the edge of my hand.
Look at my palette.
I've got all these piles of paint here.
Complete mess, but there are some order here.
I can go into different sections of like this pile here.
I've got this pile, that's yellow and blue.
And, but over on this side, it's bluer and over on this side, it's yellow.
And over here, it's oranger.
And by coming back to different sections of the pile, I can vary
the color I'm putting out here.
I looked down at my palette and there's the bluer section of that.
I'll look out there and I'll put that right here.
I can go in and...
Don't want to accelerate too quick out that side of the picture there.
Don't want to accelerate too fast out of that.
I want a nice big springy arc going right across the center.
I'm going to imply an arch all the way across this picture.
There's part of it.
There's part of it.
There's part of it.
Concave lines are weak.
I want - convex lines are weak.
I'm gonna build concave lines.
I want everything to be lumped up, have some spring.
I want more, I get more power in it.
If I get compressed spring like shapes like this, you know how a line
could be under tension like this, get that pent up strengthen in lines.
I can imply them.
They're hidden, hidden behind this pool hall geometry.
There's an underlying geometric scheme going on behind this painting.
And there is an example right there.
I'll have to get this - see the arch that's under compression?
Once I decided I'd go for the color, I'm going to cover this painting.
I want to get rid of all the white now.
Really important for me to be able to judge what's going on in this
painting to lose all the white in it.
So I'm going to - well remember me herding sheep.
Here I'm herding sheep.
I got a white canvas on here.
The sheep, the furthest back stragglers, are now white canvas.
I've got some guesses what's going on out here.
I got an indication what's going on here, but I haven't put
any thought into this or this.
So I'm going to go chase down and get rid of my lights, get some kind of
idea of what goes on in those places.
I want some kind of a rough guess at what's going on in
every place on this canvas.
Let's take a little break.
So I can clean my palette.
When you're painting a sky, I mean, how many times have you been to a yard sale
and there's a young couple there and they're selling all of granny's paintings.
They got 300 horrible paintings out in the yard and they want
like six bucks a piece for them.
And they're all on that, what's that cardboard stuff, you know, with the
paint with a canvas glued down on it.
And granny was trying to get the sky look right and kept pounding blue into it.
Pounding blue and putting more and more blue in and it never worked.
It never lit up.
And those kind of skies have light in them, not because of the
blue, but because of the other two colors that are out there.
There's only three colors, there's yellow, red, and blue.
And skies light up because they contain the yellow and red.
You can pound blue in the sky all day long.
It won't have light in it or warmth in it.
So it's the other two colors that give it light and warmth.
So often I will make a point of making sure they're there
by putting them in first.
I'll go in and just knock in some warm notes on this sky.
Make sure I've got warm notes in my sky.
I have to be real careful about that.
I just want to make sure they get there.
So I'm put them in first and then I'll know they'll be there, but it's
the warm notes in a sky that give it life and light, not the blue notes.
It's surprising how little blue it can take to make a sky go.
I don't have a cool blue.
I have no cerulean, the only blue I'I have here is ultramarine,
what have I got for another blue?
What's this one?
I've got phthalo.
That's what I'll have to use.
Ultramarine is a real great workhorse blue, but it's not so good in the skies.
And so I'll usually grab something else to paint the sky.
Ideally, maybe I'd have cerulean out here, but I haven't got that.
I do have phthalo cyanine.
A lot of people have trouble with phthalo cyanine.
It's a very powerful pigment.
It's like, if you're running a choir and you bring this new person in the choir and
her daytime job is she's a opera singer with the metropolitan opera and you put
her in the choir and all of a sudden the entire choir just became her backup band.
She can out sing everybody else.
They're no longer a choir.
It's a bunch of people singing back up for some opera singer.
So what do you do?
Well, you take her out by the church and give her two quick ones behind the year.
Well, the same happens with phthalo.
Phthalo has more pigment strength than anything else on my palette.
And so it's hard to control and people who haven't painted a long
time have problems with phthalo.
It gets everywhere, it just goes everywhere.
It's a much, much more powerful than anything else on your palette.
So I've got phthalo, but if you're painting yourself, you're painting
the sky, you'd probably be better off with either cobalt or a cerulean,
not a cerulean hue, you know hues.
Cerulean hue's made out of phthalo.
You want to stay away from phthalo until you a confident painter
until you're pretty practiced.
It's difficult to control.
I don't - it's the only blue I have here is ultramarine and phthalo.
So I'm going to do it with phthalo.
I can sometimes cheat things with viridian.
I can use viridian as a blue.
Here I have a viridian.
That's my green, this viridian.
I can lay it in here.
Like so, it looked like blue doesn't it?
It looked like blue.
This is not blue.
I'm using viridian for a blue.
And then over here, I'll throw a little bit of that phthalo
in there, up at the top.
And there's my blue.
Almost never use straight white out of the tube, even the lightest thing
in the picture like these, where the light hits these clouds, I'll throw
some yellow or something into it.
Again, I have no cerulean out here today.
So I'm using viridian.
And this painting is pretty warm.
So even though it's a green and cerulean is actually a greeny blue,
even though it's actually a green it'll look blue enough in context here.
I pretty much got to guess at everything on this canvas.
None of it's very accurate.
I haven't loitered on anything to get anything what you'd call right.
But I've got a guess and everything that's going on this canvas,
it's some kind of an idea.
This goes here, that goes there.
On the whole canvas.
Now see if I can't refine it a little bit.
I throw away more paint than I use.
Some people pile this up and use it for greys.
Sometimes I do that too but generally.
I don't want to work with a star palette.
I want to make, actually make the thing out of paint.
So I don't worry about how much paint I use.
I use a lot of paint.
I constantly replace whatever's missing on my palette when it's missing.
If I run out of a color, I stop and replace it.
I don't want to make - try to make bricks without straw.
You know what I was reading an essay by Camille Paglia the other day.
And Camille Paglia was talking about - she's a university professor she's in
her seventies and she was talking about teaching something, I don't know what,
and she made a reference to Moses and then she realized, you know, I got a
whole classroom of kids in front of me who have no idea who Moses was.
And that may be the case here today, I don't know.
But the last trial of the Israel lights from Pharaoh was
to make bricks without straw.
Well, you can't make bricks without straw.
The straw makes the bricks stick together and that was the last straw.
And they split.
Let my people go says Moses, because you can't make bricks without straw.
And you can't make bricks without straw here, you gotta stop
and get the, everything that you need to make your picture.
I run out of ultramarine and when I was a kid I didn't know any better,
I'd keep trying to make it out of other colors and keep going and not use it.
I didn't have the discipline to stop and replace it on my palette when I ran out.
And now I do, I always stop.
I'm running over color.
I will stop and add it to my palette again, I'll clean my palette so
I've got a clean place to mix.
And top off the colors, which I've run out because I don't want
to make bricks without straw.
So I started this thing out with a shovel, number 14 brush, no mark on this picture.
No decision on this picture is any smaller than that.
Now I got to mark everywhere.
I'll get some basic idea where everything is, where everything in this picture goes.
I'm looking at design, I think.
Oh, it looks okay.
So I'll grab a smaller brush.
There's a number four.
And I'm going to go at it.
I don't - I may pick up that brush again.
Because I want a variety of brush strokes in my painting.
I don't want it all one size.
So, but I pick up a smaller brush and go at it a bit here.
And the light's changed.
Do I care?
I would really rather it all be simplified.
Things are getting simplified because we don't have as much bright sunlight.
This is all a big simpler shape against the background.
I like it better.
This could almost be a two day picture.
You know that?
I don't know if we're got a second day to come back here, but this
could almost be a two day picture.
I don't necessarily have to paint the sky and then paint the tree on top of it.
The other way around, I can go back and forth.
I can work over wet paint so I can - and I'm not working in
watercolor so I can paint over things, paint things in, paint things out.
Doesn't matter to me.
And often I am painting the tree out over the sky.
I think I roughed in the tree, then I painted the sky.
Now I'm painted the tree back over the sky again.
I want to get them interwoven though.
I want to get the shapes woven into one of them.
In fact I want a lot of my shapes to be interwoven and locked together rather
than having this thing here and that thing there, I like to have things
shapes objects put roots into each other.
Does this lat look good on me?
I'm herding sheep.
When I'm herding within this space, I'm looking at this and I'm trying to get the
different motions of different areas of branches, different areas of value here.
And I put it all in with a great big brush.
Now I've got a smaller brush.
I'm looking at it more carefully.
I'm delineating things that were too small to escape my notice with
the number 14 brush in my hand.
Out there looking for variations, but I'm also trying to keep them minimized.
I don't want to chop this thing all up.
I want to keep my shapes big.
So the things I'm doing here are decorations to the larger
form rather than chopping it up into smaller and smaller forms.
I'm decorating the larger forms of variation within them.
And as this project goes on, I'll do more and more of that.
And again, I'm trying to keep moving.
I don't want to get hung up just on one corner of this picture.
I want to keep marching across the whole thing, paint the
whole picture all the time.
And those shadows I had are pretty much gone, but I'm going to keep them.
I like them.
They tie the picture together.
So I'm going to keep - I'm not going to see the shadows that were out
there before are pretty much gone, but I'm gonna keep them, I like them.
So they're gonna stay.
If I liked it better without the shadows, I'd take them out.
But I don't.
I like those shadows.
I'm always thinking what direction my light's coming from and the
things that I'm representing.
I'm thinking to myself, imagine I had 5,000 foot long vinyl arms for
a moment, and I could reach out into that landscape and actually put
my hands on that stuff out there.
There are things I would reach out and put my hands on, like
this that are the floors.
There are things out there I could reach out and put my hands
on, like this, they're walls.
Things out there I'd tap on one side of my hand, other things out there might
tap with the other side of my hand.
Each of those different planes faces the light in a different way.
And I've got to know whether what I'm painting is a floor or a wall.
And sometimes when it isn't clearly explained in nature, I'm going to want to
install it, to make sure you know it too.
I'll keep my up planes, my floors, nice and high key, because the light
is coming from above, now late in the day light comes in from the side and
all my light might be on one side of things, but most of the day, the lights,
most lights could be on my floor.
So, and keep them high key, keep those up in value and things which
are between me and the light like that tree are going to be lower in value.
And I'll be careful to sort this out.
I'm always thinking top of something, bottom of something, side of
something, edge of something.
This side, that side, always ask myself these planes in this
picture, which way do they face.
Lights up here.
Things are flat on the floor.
The floors are going to take a lot more light, the walls, the uprights, like
this they're going to be lower in value.
And if they don't appear that way, I may make them that way.
I want to make sure that I clearly explain the structure of this picture.
These things are sticking up like that.
These things are laying out like that.
Those mountains are changing fast.
If I'm going to get it, hang on to them, I better do it right now.
In fact, it may be too late already.
It is very important.
They're important for a couple of reasons.
One, they explained form, but also they explain distance and they lead the eye.,
I can de emphasize something in a picture by the way I handle the edges in it.
I can make your something that pulls your attention too hard.
I can soften the edges on it, make it less important.
I can control your eyes travel through my painting with my edges and do routinely.
But I'm really feeling like I got to keep banging on this thing.
So I don't want anybody who sees this to think that I didn't, you
know, I thought he was going to be a better painter than that.
You know, I paid to watch this video and I just thought he was
going to be better than that.
You know I heard about that guy.
Doesn't seem like he's all that good to me.
Which actually might be an argument for being out here several
days on some of this stuff too.
I don't know if I'm doing it on during this class, but I
routinely come out a second day.
Not always, but often.
Because I don't really care about anything else other than
what the painting looks like.
I get way too hung up what the paintings actually look like.
I don't care how long it takes to make, but what it looks like.
I don't care about anything
other than what the painting actually looks like.
If I - to make the painting look the way I want it to, come back a second day.
I'm good with that.
Fine with me, whatever it takes.
All I care about is what the painting actually looks like.
And I'm starting to make smaller decisions.
I started out making real big decisions and now I'm willing
to make smaller decisions.
I've got the big stuff dealt with.
I'm willing to - I started out with no detail and now
I'm adding the smaller shapes.
I put in the biggest shapes out there and now I'm putting in smaller shapes.
But I'm still trying to keep it simple.
I can make it real complicated later, but for now I'd like to keep it simple.
I teach workshops all the time and I get these people hold the brush like this.
You paid for all that stick.
You might as well use it.
I'm back here on this brush.
What that means is I can take that brush stroke any way I want.
Except for, it's hard to go down with that brush stroke like that.
So I turn the brush like this in my hand, when I'm pulling
it down, stroke like that.
Paint all over my hands.
Tomorrow I'll wear gloves if it's not hot.
Did I mention that?
I virtually always paint with gloves, but I can't do it today because it's
99 degrees, that would be important.
I hate having paint on my hands.
If I get paint on my hands, I get it on my clothes and then I get it on my car.
Get it on my pets.
I don't have any pets, but if I had pets, I'd get paint on the pets.
I used to have pets.
You get the cat have alizarin on it.
Wife would be all upset.
You got paint on the cat dead.
Somebody else did that.
The paint did.
The cat did that.
Got up here.
And the colors that you most don't want getting loose on you are the alizarin.
You can paint your whole house with a tube of alizarin.
You can paint your whole house with tube of phthalo.
And when you get a phthalo on yourself then it's going to get on the
steering wheel, it goes everywhere.
I keep hunting out those lights and darks, the variations within things.
Trying to put in.
And I'm much more interested in my values than I am in my colors.
I get the values right it'll tell the story.
I can get the colors later, or I can even lie about the colors.
I can lie about values too, but real important to get those
values up where you want them.
Bugs are driving me nuts.
I got to quit for a minute here, guys.
Bugs are absolutely eating me alive.
than they were when I started this picture, that's painting outside.
It's like, that's what happened.
People always say, well, how do you paint for three, four hours straight?
It all changes it.
That's the deal.
You got to figure out how to deal with that.
One of the ways you deal with that just by knowing what you want the painting
to look like, you get out here in the first couple hours and you get an idea.
I want this painting to look a certain way and I'm no longer strapped to nature.
Stuff can change and I'm okay.
I don't have to chase it.
You hear that - you get that a lot in figure drawing groups.
And here you've been - I used to go to figure drawing groups at
Rockport and the art association.
And there'd be guys in there who were New York illustrators,
and there were in World War II.
And these guys have, you know, sat, drawn in combat.
They were never the guys who said the model can you move
your elbow forward a little bit?
They didn't care.
The model moved or slumped.
They didn't care because they were building that picture of anatomy
in there, an idealized the way they wanted that picture to look.
And they knew how many heads there were in the length of an arm and how
big the hand was compared to the face.
They knew all that stuff.
And so when the model moved, they just kept right on working.
They didn't care.
It was always the people who didn't really quite have a handle on the
thing we're saying, can you bring your elbow forward a quarter of an inch?
No, another quarter of an inch and all day long, they're yelling at that model.
The same thing going on here, the model can move and it
doesn't put me out of business.
I know what the point of the painting looks like, got an idea.
I can go in the studio and I'll finish this thing.
People always say, what are you doing in the studio?
And they imagine that I've got a photograph here and I do it
will have a photograph for sure.
But they imagine I'm looking at the photograph and copying it.
And that's what used to happen to me.
Used to be when I was in the studio, have that photograph and say,
well, let's see, this goes here.
That goes there.
This goes over here.
And that goes there.
I don't do that anymore.
Outside I'm gathering information, in the studio I'm adding art.
I try and make the picture look good.
I don't really care what was really out here.
I'll make that picture look good.
And sometimes I want to look at that photograph and see what
was going on and stuff happens.
If it's cool, I'm going to use it.
Look at those mountains out there, now they've got all
those facets and planes in it.
I want that.
I like that.
I'll put that in.
that's going to be a fleeting effect.
When I see something go by like that, that I really like, and it's only
going to be there for a few minutes I pull up my phone take a picture
of it, might come in handy later.
I'm not embarrassed to use a photograph, but I don't let them use me.
I got that cool thing going on with the mountains.
I know it isn't going to last and I know I like it.
I got it.
I got you too.
Funny how that mountain was all dark before and now it's in the light.
I'm going to leave it dark.
But I do like this time of day best.
See, now we've got the light coming in from one side and you've got
the shadows of color on the ground.
Everything is just - this is the best it's looked all day long.
What we've got right here is the best this picture's looked all day long.
In the studio, I'm going to talk about the parts of the light,
the shadow edge, the turning edge.
What's sometimes called the bedbug lines.
Sometimes the illustrators call it the terminator, but I'm right now doing
sort of a little trick I'm darkening that turning edge, see where the thing
goes from the light and the shadow.
If I darken the outside of that shadow, it'll give the illusion
of light within the shadow.
It's darker on the outsids.
The interior is more colored and slightly lighter.
It makes the shadow light up.
You get luminosity in your shadow by putting a dark line around it.
It's your dark accents that make passages luminous,
All of the things that make a painting appear to have light are not just pounding
high-key notes or pounding white into it.
Things that appearance of light.
Because they're accented with darks, you need darks in a passage
to get the appearance of light.
It's all about comparisons.
So if I take the edge of the lights and I darken them, I'll get the
appearance of more luminous shadows.
I don't always do stuff like that.
That's sort of a trick, it's kind of tricky, but it works so that all these
passages light up here, warmer in there and go in there and throw some
nice warm, bright notes.
And because I've got that shadow edge nice and dark, I can get away
with throwing those lights in there.
Get some luminosity in my shadow.
And I like it best.
The old timers used to call this the hour of the muse.
My favorite time of day painting is this last few hours of the day.
Last hour, when the light breaking into the pictures, when the
most exciting stuff happens.
I studied at painter extensively gathering of Antonio Cirino.
New England painter, died in 1983.
One of my heroes, I guess, I don't know somebody, I learned stuff from.
People ask me who, somebody asked me who the greatest painters were and
I'll say a Rubens and Rembrandt, I suppose those were the grades, Raphael.
And then they said, well, how come you spend so much time talking about Aldro
Hibbard, Aldro Hibbard isn't as good a painter as Raphael, but he's got more
in his pockets that I could steal.
A lot of time I'm looking at artists, not because it's so great but what's
he got that I want, what can I - what can I find there, what's useful there?
And either way you Anthony Cirino threw little dots and
accents all over everything.
I'll show you an Anthony Cirino back in the studio.
And Anthony Cirino threw little dots and dashes all over things.
I like that.
I used to call them Puff-O-Pods, little Puff-O-Pods.
And here I am throwing a little Puff-O-Pods, see my little Puff-O-Pods,
little dark accents, light spots.
They live in the area the eye sees them and imagines them well, that's detail.
I am liven the passage, rather than having a flat section of paint.
If I were to take my wedding ring off, damn, I did take my wedding
ring off, and slide it across the painting like this always within
its circumference, I'd have several different notes, vibrating like that.
Often the same value, different colors, the same value.
I'll make the same value, two different ways on my palette for instance.
I might make that note once with viridian and cad yellow, and then
make it again with ultramarine and cad yellow light, almost the same
value, but different chemicals.
I drop one over the other and it vibrates.
Tricks the eye.
And if you walk up to this painting and you were looking at it close
everywhere you see there's little colors over top of it, a little dop of
colors, and that gives me vibration.
I've done it all over this painting.
And it's one of the things that will happen in the studio is I'll
make sure that every passage in this painting is vibrating with color.
A passage is an area of the painting.
This is a passage right here.
Talk about a thing of a piece of a painting.
That's a passage.
And oftentimes I'll get stuff lighting up.
This bush over here was all in the dark and I liked it in the dark and
I'm not gonna put it in the light, but it's certainly lighting up with nice
colors and I'm going to put them in and I'm gonna put them and the value
that the thing actually was earlier.
I'm not going to change the value of the thing.
I'm just going to drop in the colors because I like them, all
those nice warm colors in there.
I put them in, but I won't - I'm not going to darken it up to do it.
I'm not going to make it as bright as that actually is.
I'll just use the colors within the value scheme I've already established.
I don't want to chop it all up.
Oh, you like this cobalt violet.
Here I am with my cobalt violet.
Again, somebody once told me or asked me about the cobalt violet.
Said what do you do with that cobalt violet?
And I said, well, you know, it kind of it's distance in a tube.
I can put cobalt violet into something, and it'll drop back for me.
I can mix it into a color and it'll look as if it's distant.
It's a great modifying color.
There's nothing in this world.
I'm actually going to paint that color, but I can make those greens drop
back by adding cobalt violet to it.
They'll drop back in the distance because - well it's a compliment
of the greens, but it just throws a little distance in the thing.
So I'm fond of cobalt violet for that purpose.
It is expensive and dioxazine violet, that's right next to the cobalt.
They'll try and get you to buy dioxazine instead of cobalt.
Don't do it.
If it's a loud, obnoxious color, cobalt violet is subtle.
You know, we don't value colors by their pigmenting strength.
People just beginning to paint think the best colors are those
that are the most powerful.
Nothing's more powerful than phthalo cyanine.
But it's the most common, cheap color in the world.
These jeans were well, these jeans aren't, but your jeans are probably
were dyed with phthalo cyanine and the blue one, the labels and
things you buy at the grocery store
are phthalo cyanine, it's everywhere.
It's the most common pigment in the world.
Lots of power, cheap, but oftentimes the best colors we value not because
they have so much pigment straight, but because they lack pigment strength,
we use them to influence other colors.
They can step on other colors like modify other colors without blowing the note out.
You wouldn't want to build an orchestra with just brass instruments that are just,
you can just have those loud brass sounds.
You want to have quiet instruments and loud instruments so you can
accomplish different things.
You want pigments that have strengthened well, the pigments that don't have
so much strength they're used for modifying or stepping on other colors.
In the winter
I have a pink that I make myself.
I don't have it with me today, but oftentimes I have it.
I call it porn star pink and it's right between bubblegum
and feather boa, stuff screams.
But it's exactly the opposite of the color of greens in sunlight.
It's the, you know, there's chartreuse green that you get with
cadmium yellow and viridian that screams out of the landscapes.
Not so much here in California, I notice things are burned out and I liked
that, things are - there's more russets and ochre, it's beautiful color here.
Very, very happy with the colors of things out here.
Lots of reds, but we're I'm from out in New England we've got things screaming
green and particularly if you go up to Vermont and I need an antidote for that.
And oftentimes in fact, in the old days, guys used to carry a color - they
don't make it anymore, I used to call it flesh color and it was a pink.
Now it's labeled Caucasian flesh.
But the people, the landscape painters would carry that flesh color in their
palette and they'd step on greens and such with it was the antidote
to all the greens out in nature.
Out here in California
I don't think I'm going to need that.
There's so many other colors that aren't, aren't screaming, green.
Green's the enemy, incidentally, I hate green.
I'm a landscape painter.
I hate green.
I've painted way too many green pictures.
And when I'm painting somewhere that's really, really green
I'm doing everything I can.
Figure out how to knock that green down.
So I don't have a picture that's screaming green.
I can't tell you how to make that a porn star, pink color that I carry, but there's
a commercial color out there in the world you can buy that looks just like it.
And it's made by a Williamsburg and they call it Persian rose.
And it's exactly the opposite of that high pitch, yellow green
that we get so much of a nature.
That's a handy thing to have around you.
You're never going to run to anything out there in the real world that's
that color, at least not very often.
It's just the brightest, loudest pink imaginable, but it sure is
nice for knocking down greens.
The world is too green.
California might not be though.
It's fun being out here, painting with all these other colors.
Maybe I can string some pearls across this picture.
Watch me string pearls across this picture.
I think that's got it for today.
This light's getting low.
I've done about all I can do for this thing I've been out of here what?
There's three or four hour session out here, I guess.
I've got the basic idea of the picture and I can take this home
in my studio and finish it up.
Maybe I'll get it home
and I'll hate it.
I make more pictures than I can finish.
I throw away at least half of what I do.
I'd go on painting trips and I'll come home with 10, 15, 20 of these things
and I throw them all in a stack.
And I've got a couple of weeks before I go back out on another trip and
I'll pull the best of them out of that stack and finish in my studio now.
add then I'll lose one and throw it away.
And the rest of them, I can't finish.
I can't finish them all.
So I just finished the best ones.
I keep the best one-shot sketches like these outdoors.
And I don't really show one shot art.
That's not my thing.
This is a one-shot painting, but it's a one-shot 18 by 24.
And if I make the finished painting, it'll still have good things that
got into it because I was standing in front of nature to make it,
but it won't be an eight by ten.
And a lot of times people, in fact, I used to myself go out and paint
eight by tens and then blow them up in the studio into a larger painting.
And it always made them sort of artificial.
You know, when you go in the museum, you see those Monet's and the Pizarros,
you're seeing the thing they made outside.
And they're not eight by tens.
They're this size.
This is 30 by 40 it's bigger sometimes.
All thoses Monet's and all that.
So they took them outside several times, but what you see in the museum
is the painting they made outside.
They've been doctored up in the studio, but they it's got that feeling that
comes from painting in front of nature.
That's why it's important to me to get out here and work in front of nature.
I can take this to the studio.
I might work an hour, right?
I might work four or five days on it.
It may end up looking totally different, but still something from that outside
experience gets into the painting.
I have a hard time not - I really never do show a painting
that I didn't start outside.
I never pull out a photograph and say, oh look at this great photograph,
I'll use it to make a painting.
I never do that.
Everything I do is to start outside.
Some things are finished outside.
I'll go out a couple of times now, really put a fine buff on something,
but everything started outside.
See you tomorrow.
in this park, near Capistrano and I made this picture on location.
And it went pretty well.
I mean, considering as the first day I've painted out there in California,
that crew - getting used to working with the crew, it came out okay
all things considered.
Now for your assignment here, what I'd like you to do is go back and look at
the beginning of this episode again, this lesson again, what I'd like you to
do is get yourself a full-size canvas.
Now I know you probably paint on eight by tens now, but I think that
makes things more difficult, you know?
Great big world.
Little tiny canvas.
I think it makes it harder, not easier.
That probably bucks common wisdom and some of what you've heard before, but my
feeling is it's easier to see and make larger, bolder marks on a bigger canvas.
So stretch yourself up a 16 by 20 or an 18 by 24 or buy one
at your local big box store.
But give yourself a full-size canvas.
And then go out and remember how I started this picture?
I took just a single color you could use - I used cobalt violet, but you
could use ultramarine, burnt sienna, whatever you got in your palette,
you wouldn't want to use a cadmium.
You want one of the more transparent colors.
And did you see how I started this thing?
I just ran in a very quick drawing, not a very precise and not a heavy
line, sort of a coat hanger drawing.
I put in little, little dots and little indications where things are going to go.
And I found a number of locations throughout the canvas and then I drew
like just a real rough version of
what was it going on here.
I had a plan just like, if you're going to build a house, you'd have a plan you'd
make it from, I came up with a plan that I was going to use to build this painting.
And then as I started out and laid it in, I didn't touch the white.
Stay out of that white.
As long as you don't touch the white, you can shove this painting around.
You got complete freedom to wipe in sections and wipe it out.
And go in it again.
The trick is to not use the white.
So go outside on a bigger canvas and try and get a soft transparent drawing of the
whole thing without touching the white.
Go as long as you can, without hitting that white, once you get the whole
thing worked out and make your picture.
So that's what I'd like you to do for your first assignment.
Get out there and do it and good luck.
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1. Interview With Artist Stapleton Kearns8m 39sNow playing...
1. Learning Recommendation24sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Shopping for a Foreground7m 28s
3. Looking for the Big Poster Shapes12m 26s
4. Herding the Furthest Back Straggler4m 30s
5. Be a Poet, Not a Journalist19m 45s
6. Making Hamburger-Sized Decisions12m 6s
7. You Cannot Observe Design into a Painting20m 4s
8. How to Give Life to Your Skies15m 0s
9. How to Install Form24m 46s
10. You Don't Have to Chase Nature7m 38s
11. The Hour of the Muse22m 0s
12. Assignment Instructions2m 31s
14. Timelapse2m 0s