Local Color

Local Color

Painters often refer to something known as Local Color. So what is it exactly? Well, there is a very simple explanation. Local Color refers to the color of an object if it is unhindered by shadows and highlights. Still don’t get it? Basically it is what the actual color of an object is. Take for instance a Tomato, now most people would agree that tomatoes are red, however that’s just part of the story and the way that our eye perceives colors. In reality if we really examine a tomato we will see all sorts of different tones and highlights. Take a look at the image below and you will notice the myriad of colors which are created just by one tomato. There’s pinks, violets, browns, and reds. Simply put, when painting any object we must consider all the colors and many times it isn’t intuitive to see the light violet colors because of our preconceived ideas about the local color of the object, which is red.

local color

When it comes to painting it is very important to be aware of what the local color of the object is, however it is also vital that we delve further into the more nuanced colors that appear as well. This is even more important when we have multiple objects of different colors placed closely together. The light bouncing off of one surface can create a reflection and influence the surrounding areas. Therefore, if we look at the top of the tomato we can begin to see that the green vine above it is effecting the colors of the shadows as well. For this reason it is very common for painting instructors to say that students need to start examining what colors make up the shadows in the objects they paint. There’s a whole rainbow of color hiding in the shadows. This was most evident in the Impressionists’ works as they would commonly use blues, and even reds in their shadows.

It is the goal of this lesson to get beyond local color and we are going to make sure that there’s no chance it will seep into this exercise. You will be painting a portrait without the use of local color. It is up to you to use your skills in seeing the value (darkness) of a color and by doing so you can still create a believable space which is totally divorced from your preconceived notions about what the local color of the object is. For the first part of the assignment you will copy the painting below and this will give you a feel for how Color as Value works. I’ve included the drawing, as well as the original image (gridded out), and a picture of my palette so you can get a clear look at what these colors look like. Once you are finished with the first painting you will find an image of your choosing and will have to complete a second painting. In your second painting you will once again be looking beyond local color. Really push how intense you can make your colors, and you’ll also start to notice that the temperature (basically how warm or cool a color looks) also influences the way we perceive reality.

1. Source Image from which the painting will be made. Feel free to change the unit of measurement if you wish. One box could easily equal an inch or whatever fits the size of the canvas you are working on.

2. After gridding out your painting surface you will sketch in the big value shapes present in the photo.

3. You will then paint in the value shapes using the value of the color to create an illusion of depth. Disregard what you know about color intensity and local color. Be bold.

4. Remember that your palette should be a representation of all the colors you will use.


<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-408" title="palette" src="http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/palette ou trouver du viagra a paris.jpg” alt=”” width=”504″ height=”345″ srcset=”http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/palette.jpg 1200w, http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/palette-300×205.jpg 300w, http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/palette-1024×701.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 504px) 100vw, 504px” />

5. If possible take a photo of your painting and change it to black and white. This will be an indicator of how good your eye is. The painting should stand up as a black and white image as well as a color one. This is an extremely important aspect of painting. Seeing color as value.

Upon finishing this copy you will be creating another painting on your own in the same manner. Remember to choose an image that has a wide range of values from light to dark.

How To Paint Landscapes

How To Paint Landscapes

 

During this lesson you will be learning how to construct and paint a landscape painting. I’ve chosen to begin with painting landscapes because they allow us to utilize all the different skills we’ve been working on so far.  Instead of using “Plein Air” techniques which are very popular today among painters wishing to capture “light” I will be teaching about the structure of the landscape and letting you know about how it works. There are a lot of varying principles which should be taken into consideration. This may seem like a lot to consider but I’m more interested in giving my students a chance to make great work as opposed to praising mediocre work. Let’s first look at the steps involved  and the things we are to consider when composing,drawing, and painting our landscape painting.

Finding a photograph to work from, or learning how to photograph landscapes yourself.

The first step is to find (or take) a photograph from which to work. If you want to find an image from the internet to work from then that is fine. You may want to jump to google images and use the first “cool” image you find. This is not the way to go about choosing a photograph. I would suggest looking for images in the creative commons. You can use this search engine to search the creative commons for images that you can use to create paintings from.  When searching for a photo to paint from it is important to start seeing a few different elements. Take a look at the image below that I found in the creative commons from user Isamiga76 . It’s a photograph of a french landscape.

france-landscape-photo

It’s very important to have an image that has high contrast and a clear definition between the foreground, middle ground, background, and sky. In the following photos below I’ve separated these different elements so you can see very clearly what I am talking about. If you are choosing to take your own landscape photos then having a definitive foreground, middle ground, and background should be one of your first considerations when taking a photo which will turn into a painting.  This gives the image a sense of depth and creates clear markers for our  brains to understand how the elements recede towards the horizon line.

Foreground Landscape

landscape-foreground

The foreground will contain the brighest colors present in the entire painting. This is because colors lose intensity as they get farther away. This is a scientific fact based upon the amount of water vapor present in the air. You can imagine that as you look farther into the distance you’re actually looking through more and more water vapor. This clouds everything and gives it a cooler greyish blue glaze. I’ve also taken out the cows, and have chosen to ignore the barbed wire in the foreground.

Middle ground Landscape

landscape-middleground-2

The Middle Ground will generally contain the darkest values present in the painting.

The Background

landscape-background

The background of the landscape will be lighter than the middle ground due to atmospheric perspective (stuff farther away gets a cloudy blue glaze).

Clouds

clouds

Clouds are an important element of any landscape and in this photo they seem a bit bland really. If you want to paint these types of clouds you can review Lesson 15 How to Paint with Acrylics . It is here where I first spoke about hard edges vs. soft edges and when painting clouds we are essentially looking at a large mass of hard and soft edges intermingling. This is the most important consideration to take into account when painting clouds. In the photo above we can see that the clouds closest to the horizon are also the most blurry (soft edges) while the clouds closer to us at the top of the photo have a bit more contrast and harder edges.

For this painting we don’t want to have some weak clouds so let’s try and energize this landscape a bit. I’m going to be adding some different clouds using a free image editing program called gimp. This is a habit you should also get into. If you find a photo, don’t just copy it, try and mix it up a bit to make it yours. Gimp is completely free opensource software and it works great for doing some simple editing to photos. There are also loads of tutorials all over the internet on how to use all of its different features.  The good thing about painting is that you don’t really have to worry about making a perfect photoshopped version of what you want to paint.  It can have clunky collaging and look ridiculous, but you can always clean up any of those edges in the final painting.  As you can see in the photo below. The new clouds seem to make the entire image look brighter. You wouldn’t guess it but  this image is quite dark overall. In the black and white version you can see the values of the colors and just how color intensity can trick you into thinking a bright color is light, in this case the bright green in the foreground is actually quite dark.

france-landscape-photo-clouds

Black and white

france-landscape-photo-clouds-black-and-white

Now that we can see the values of  our colors we start to have an idea of the sort of color harmonies that are at play. One of the most memorable phrases I heard during art school was that your palette should look like an abstract version of your painting. To further visualize this I have created a value scale of the colors present in the image above. This will serve as a visual reminder as to what colors and values I need to be mixing during the painting process. If you are able to I highly recommend that you create a similar color value scale before you begin painting on your landscape.

color-value-scale

Notice the cool and warm colors and the harmonies they create. For your white I would suggest that you never use pure white in a painting as it tends to stand out in an unrealistic manner. Your whitest white should be the light cream color which will only be used for small highlights and parts of the clouds.

Step One

The first step is to make a quick, yet accurate sketch of the landscape. You are mainly looking for the main lines that separate the foregound, middle ground, and background.

landscape-sketch

Step 2

Next you will paint in the major values with a broad brush. Your goals is to have at least 4 varying tones, but not too many. This is not the point to be concerned with details. You are only looking for large value shapes and painting them with their corresponding values.

landscape-painting-values

Step 3 Blocking in Color

painting landscapes

Using a large brush block in the major colors in your landscape. You are going to try and create colors which are the same value as the grey you had previously painted. The reasons for painting the black and white underpainting are now evident during this phase as acrylic paint tends to be somewhat translucent. Your colors in your painting won’t look streaky and white but instead solid and bold. You can also notice how large some of those dark shapes are. This is because we can trim these value shapes down during the next step. At this point you want your painting to be a very quick impressionistic light study.

Step 4 – Details and Cleaning

painting-landscapes

This is the step where you get to cut away at your large value shapes with a smaller brush. It’s very easy for this step to continue on indefinitely as many beginning painters want to keep refining small details. The result of this can often be a painting that lacks freshness. Remember this isn’t meant to be a finished painting. These are still studies. They should be treated more as assignments, and less as finished pieces.  I would suggest using these same steps to paint other landscapes as well. Practice makes perfect and this step by step process will provide the structure, and framework needed to paint countless landscapes.

http://search.creativecommons.org/

Assessing your progress

You’ve now come to the end of a long journey, but it’s one that is just beginning. At this point I
would like for your to go back to the drawings you made in Lesson 3 “Creating your baseline”
and redraw them again. I am confident that if you have dedicated time and passion in this
course you will see an improvement that you didn’t even expect. This is the first installment
of three books which I have planned about painting. In the next we get away from the theory
and will begin to go further into edges, paint application, glazing, and other technical aspects
concerning paint. Please stay tuned at painting-course.com to see all the newest and latest
assignments and updates on the new “semester” coming. As I said previously what you have
just finished represents about 1 year of foundation level in college in painting. I intend to
continue on making this opencourse work free online as I believe there are too many books
which teach only technique, and no theory. So now that you’ve got a good grasp on theory it’s
time to start having fun, and getting messy with paint!
Final Assignment: Coming Full Circle
Redo your previous Baseline drawings and compare and look at areas you need to improve,
and other areas which you feel to sharpen up your skills. But don’t be too hard on yourself! Look
at all the progress you’ve made and realize that the more you practice at this point, the better
you will be. You’ve started the journey! Great work!

We’ve come a long way in this course so far. We’ve gone from drawing our hands and learning about basic forms to learning about color theory and finally making our first painting of the four major forms with black and white acrylic paint.   . When I say “Learning to paint” this isn’t something that can just be learned with one quick lesson. There aren’t really any tricks or shortcuts. If you want to learn to paint you must dedicate yourself to it, and treat it as a discipline. You will improve with each painting you make.  What I’ve outlined in the previous lessons is a foundation which will translate towards painterly thinking.

Upon completing the previous lessons you should now posses a skill set. Think of it as a certain set of skills which you are trying to master. There are analogies that could be made to a variety of other activities which need discipline in order to excel at.  I compare painting to music a lot: but in this case I believe the philosophy you should develop towards learning to paint should be closer akin to a student of martial arts. It’s a body and mind duality. Both your dexterity needs to be improved in order to manipulate the brush in a deft manner, but also your mind needs to learn how to stay out of the way and stop naming the things  you are drawing or painting.  If you really want to learn to paint you can’t just read about it, you need to do it, make mistakes, and then do it over, and over, and over again.

Perhaps you understood how to mix color harmonies very quickly, but are still worried about your drawing skills.  These are important factors to consider and if you are truly dedicated to learning to paint then you should begin to address the skills at which you feel the weakest. Below in the Report Card you’ll see a list of skills I’ve tried to teach so far. After each skill I want you to grade yourself on how you are performing at this point. Be honest, no one else will see them. Your weak areas simply need more attention. The problems can be addressed by redoing lessons you don’t feel confident in.

Learn To Paint

If you want you can print it out and hang it up on your wall to remind yourself what things you want to improve.  You should always remember that you are learning a new skill for yourself, and that nothing should stop you from persuing your dreams. If Learning to Paint is a life long dream then it can’t hurt to jump in and try! Personally I feel it is best to show your friends and the world your work immediately (I even have a lesson dedicated to creating a personal blog of your art work), but if this isn’t your style, then so be it. Don’t show anyone your paintings until you are ready to do so, just don’t discount your abilities.

I know this is beginning to sound like some sort of motivational speech. But I include self evaluation as an actual Lesson because it is important to be able to self evaluate if you want to continue to learn how to paint better throughout the years.  Learning to paint isn’t about one lesson showing you how to “shade” , it’s the culmination of many lessons and years of work.  The next lesson in this course will involve your first real painting where you’ll have your first opportunity to bring everything that we’ve worked on so far into one painting.  This is the reason why I want you to take inventory of your current skills before we proceed.  We’re still working on basic ideas and techniques but as we begin to combine them things start to get more complicated pretty fast.

How To Paint With Acrylics

How To Paint With Acrylics

Lesson 15

When learning how to paint with acrylics the most important thing is to first understand the properties of the colors (pigments) you have chosen to use. As you learned in Lesson 12 Color Theory Basics the most important factor as to how your paint will perform is dependent upon whether or not it is an opaque color. Opaque Acrylic paints will cover a surface better and avoid streaky transparent colors.  Then you’ve got to make sure you have a nice surface to paint on. You can check out my Painting on Masonite video if you are looking for a cheap and easy way to have multiple canvases available at all times.

I received a few questions on twitter regarding the fact that I don’t use a paint knife, but instead use my brush to mix my colors on my palette. Instead of trying to explain with words my technique for mixing colors I thought it would just be easier to show so I made this short video.

Once your brush is fully loaded it’s time to paint. When painting with acrylics it’s important to use a lot of paint and kind of glide it onto the surface. If you’ve got a heavy hand you’ve got to lighten up a bit and just let the paint slowly flow off the brush. You can see in the video above when I was pushing harder this actually caused the paint to be more transparent (even though Im using opaque colors) so I went over the stroke again with a lighter stroke and this actually worked better.

When you are painting with acrylics (or oils for that matter) you are going to need to pay attention to two different types of edges which you will see in your subject. These two edges are soft (blended) , and hard. The easiest place to see this is in paintings done of tapestries. In this painting by Carvaggio we can see how he used both soft (blended) values with hard edges.

paint with acrylics

Look at the dark shadows and how they are crisp and hard, and then look at the large sections of fabric that slowly gradate from light to dark.  These are the two types of marks you want to focus on creating. Always ask yourself when painting a shadow, “does this shadow have a hard edge, or a soft edge?” Does the light slowly gradate from light to dark, or is there a hard cast shadow cutting across/behind the object?

For the next assignment you will be creating paintings of the four different shapes found in nature. These are the cube, the cylinder, the cone, and the sphere.  These forms can be used in conjunction with one another to create a multitude of different objects and creatures as you learned in Lesson 8 Drawing Form.  Now you will be painting them.  The process works best if you have some nice white objects that you can set up with a light. But I understand that most people don’t have access to these so I’ve given you the four different shapes from which to paint below.  Your brush shouldn’t shade each form the same. For instance, while working on the cube think about making long flat marks. When painting the sphere you can act as if your brush is following the form which it is painting.  When Painting the cylinder the strokes will be small little crescents.  You will draw a basic sketch with a dark color first, and then plop down large areas of where your highlights and mid tones will be. The last step is to blend it all. There’s a few ways to do this. They are called the “dry brush blending” and “wet into wet” (alla prima) techniques.

With dry brush blending you wipe your brush with a rag after you’ve applied a color. It doesn’t need to be free of all paint, just DON’T put it in your water first to clean it. You want the brush to be dry. After you’ve applied two different values beside each other you can use the dry brush to mix the two values together, this could also create a third middle tone.  Watch the video below to see how dry brush blending works with acrylics.

Assignment #23

Using black and white acrylic paint you will paint each of the four forms to the best of  your ability.  You can use the following images as your source material.  Take a look at a previous students work if you need inspiration.

cone

Cone

cube-shape

Cube

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-317" title="cylinder-shape" src="http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/cylinder-shape.jpg" alt="cylinder-shape" width="467" height="514" srcset="http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/cylinder-shape.jpg 550w, http://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/cylinder-shape-272×300 viagra online.jpg 272w” sizes=”(max-width: 467px) 100vw, 467px” />

Cylinder

sphere-shape

Sphere

con-shape-painting

cube-shape-painting

cylinder-shape-painting

sphere-shape-painting

Composition in Painting

Composition in Painting

Lesson 11:
Up to this point we’ve been focusing on some very basic skills.  And many of the techniques and elements will be learned through practice. However, there is another part of becoming a painter that also requires practice. And that is teaching yourself how to look at, and create compositions within a picture plane.  Your picture plane is simply the area in which you are drawing. It is the shape of your paper, or canvas.  But that rectangle has certain rules regarding how to arrange the elements of your drawing/painting. Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art.

Ok, so let’s think about painting as we would a musical composition. Musical notes by themselves are not necessarily music until someone comes along and arranges those notes into a composition. The same is true for painting. The elements of music are notes, tones, keys, and beats per minute. These are like the skeletons of what music is made from.
So what are our Elements of Art? Well, here you go. ( I’ve coupled every element with an artist that makes it easier to understand.)

The Elements of Art

Line – the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece (Ralph Steadman illustration)

alice-in-wonderland-drawing

Shape – areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic (Leger)

leger

Color – hues with their various values and intensities (Josef Albers)

Homage to the Square, Gained 1959 Josef Albers

Texture – surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions (Albrecht Durer)

durer_rabbit

Form – 3-D length, width, or depth (Jenny Saville)

Jenny-Saville-fat-Female

Value – Shading used to emphasize form (Carvaggio)

david_and_goliath_by_caravaggio

Space – the space taken up by (positive) or in between (negative) objects (Richard Diebenkorn)

diebenkorn-scissors

Now you should have an idea as to what the Elements of Art are. Line, Shape, Color, Form, Space, Texture, Value. These are the skeleton, the basic elements. So let’s get back to what makes a composition. As we previously stated a Composition is the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art. The principles of art are the set of rules or guidelines of art that are to be considered when creating a piece of art. They are combined with the elements of art in the production of art. So these principles are somewhat more abstract than Line, or Color. But they aren’t too difficult to understand. The principles are movement, unity,harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern.

Movement
Movement shows actions, or alternatively, the path the viewer’s eye follows throughout an artwork. Movement is caused by using elements under the rules of the principles in picture to give the feeling of action and to guide the viewer’s eyes throughout the artwork.  (Degas)
degas-horses

Unity

Unity is the quality of wholeness that is achieved through the effective use of the elements and principles of art. The arrangement of elements and principles to create a feeling of completeness. (Japanese Print. Artist Unkown)

unity-art

Harmony

Harmony is achieved in a body of work by using similar elements throughout the work, harmony gives an uncomplicated look to your work. The way the picture makes everything come together. (Van Gogh)

van-gogh-iris

Variety

Variety (also known as alternation) is the quality or state of having different forms or types. The differences which give a design visual and conceptual interest: notably use of contrast, emphasis, difference in size and color. (Diego Rivera) Also check out how he used pattern, and repetition to create Unity! 😉

diego-rivera-creation-popol-vuh

Balance

Balance is arranging elements so that no one part of a work overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part. The three different kinds of balance are symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial. Symmetrical (or formal) balance is when both sides of an artwork, if split down the middle, appear to be the same. The human body is an example of symmetrical balance. The asymmetrical balance is the balance that does not weigh equally on both sides. Radial balance is equal in length from the middle. An example is the sun. (Wayne Thiebaud)

Composition in Painting

Contrast

Contrast is created by using elements that conflict with one another. Often, contrast is created using complementary colors or extremely light and dark values. Contrast creates interest in a piece and often draws the eye to certain areas.(Raymond Pettibon)

pettibon-ink-drawing

Proportion

Proportion is a measurement of the size and quantity of elements within a composition. In ancient arts, proportions of forms were enlarged to show importance. This is why Egyptian gods and political figures appear so much larger than common people. The ancient Greeks found fame with their accurately-proportioned sculptures of the human form. Beginning with the Renaissance, artists recognized the connection between proportion and the illusion of 3-dimensional space. (Brueghel)

brueghel_hunters

Pattern/Rhythm

Pattern and rhythm (also known as repetition) is showing consistency with colors or lines. Putting a red spiral at the bottom left and top right, for example, will cause the eye to move from one spiral, to the other, and everything in between. It is indicating movement by the repetition of elements. Rhythm can make an artwork seem active. (Duchamp)

duchamp-nude-descending-staircase

Now that you’ve got a good idea about all the elements and principles of Art is is time to incorporate them into some small sketches.

Drawing #19  Thumbnail Sketches of the 9 Principles of Art.

Time Required: 30 minutes to 1 hour

For this drawing you will first draw 9 small boxes evenly spaced across your paper. In each box you are going to illustrate a principle of design using only rectangles and squares. No round edges! Really think about how to best illustrate each principle and you’ll start to get a feeling for what they really mean.  These types of visual thinking are better taught through practice rather than words and explanations. You can see an example of a students drawing below.

principles-of-art-design

Drawing#20 Small object compositional sketches.

Time Required: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

For this drawing you will divide your paper into smaller sections (at least 5) . In each small rectangle draw a sketch for a composition based upon 4 or 5 different small objects.  Play around with proportion and cropping the image.  Make sure your composition incorporates all four edges. This is most easily achieved by having the objects you are drawing to be cropped off be the edge of your picture plane. Then start working with different principles of art, and look at how you can use these ideas to create more interesting compositions.

composition-drawing

How to Mix Flesh Tones

How to Mix Flesh Tones

In this painting video tutorial I go through the process of how to mix a good base flesh tone using only red, yellow, a touch of blue and white.  Many artists will buy pre-mixed flesh or skin tones in the tube. Here is a simple way that you can learn how to mix your own flesh tones. This awards you a greater variety of possibilities as there are a vast array of skin tones and colors present in all of the people in the world.

The basics outlined in the video above are as follows. You want to start by mixing red and yellow to get an orange color. Once your orange is mixed your going to dab in just a bit of blue to take down the intensity of the color. Now you should have what resembles a dirty orange. Now clean your brush and make another pile of paint  next to your dirty yellow of white. Slowly add the orange to the white (it is important not to add white to your pile of dirty orange). Now you can see that you can create an entire value scale of skin tones increasing in lightness just by adding white. If you want to darken the color you can add more red and blue to the color. If your color gets too violet then simply add some more yellow.

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