Writing Artist Statement of Intent

As I have stressed multiple times throughout this course we are not only building upon technical strengths but also your ability to synthesize and create concepts. We’ve gone into history a bit, and examined some of the more formal aspects of painting and drawing.  Now’s the time where we will delve into an area which often is ignored by many art schools, as well as working artists. The skill you will be working on here doesn’t involve paint or a pencil, but instead your mind and your ability to focus on your interests to the fullest extent. Remember that mastering artistic techniques with paint, pencil, or a computer is one thing, and this will improve the more you practice, but having a unique idea and a viewpoint you wish to share with the world is what will make you an artist.

It is important not to confuse a Statement of Intent with an Artist Statement. A Statement of Intent (SOI) is a declaration of your plans and your ideas for a specific project, while an Artist Statement is a statement which is written by an artist (many times after the work is finished) in order to give a viewer more information about the process by which the work was created as well as the conceptual ideas which were being implemented. They go in completely different directions. An SOI goes from conception to fruition/realization, and an AS goes from conception to fruition/realization and back to the conception but now with reflection. For this post we will first be examining on how to write a Statement of Intent, and the next lesson we will be looking at examples at Artist Statements and see how other artists have used words to enhance the experience someone has with a piece of art.

Assignment:

What I want you to do is set up a schedule for your artistic working schedule (yes, artists also have schedules unfortunately). There is often a romantic notion that artists get to sit and dream all day, only to be interrupted by manic artistic outbursts. But this is generally not the case. All of the artists I know work a lot on their work, and by a lot I mean they often have a full time job, and still manage to work on their own work for at least 20 hours a week. This may sound crazy to you, but please keep in mind that this website is structured as a typical college level course, and students in physical colleges generally spend at least 15 hours a week in school. This is how you should approach your work schedule. As something physically which you “go to” and work for an allotted amount of time.

While it is great to shoot for the stars the first most important thing is to have realistic goals in place. If you can afford to only work 8 hours a week on your artistic work, then allot that amount of time to it. The following Statement of Intent sample below is merely a sample which is geared towards an average student. You can choose to try and work as much as possible, or you can also take it slower. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should have a physical schedule which you are held to. Put it up in a prominent space in your room and then check off all the days where you completed the task.  You can download a monthly calendar template here and print it out, or buy a nice planner if you wish to write about and update your tasks for each day of work.

The theory of 10,000 hours of work as a measure of genius.

I do not wish to scare you with the amount of work that is needed to achieve genius, but would like to offer the following theory as a guideline as to how much the “Masters of Art” generally worked before achieving their status. In 2008 Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers in which he postulated the theory that geniuses almost always worked harder, and longer at what they did as compared to others. And generally an expert level status was achieved when that artist had worked for 10,000 hours in their discipline

“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals” – musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.” (Gladwell, 2008)

Understanding this idea is very important if you want to progress as an artist. There is a common misunderstanding that artists are born, not made. But if we look throughout history we find thousands of examples of just the opposite. For instance, Mozart is often considered to be the definition of a “child prodigy” with natural talent. But did you know that Mozart was taught by his father who was a music teacher and pianist? He later became friends with one of the most powerful composers of the era (Haydn) by the age of 8, and had already toured the world, and played more concerts than artists 4 times his age. Of course there is also an element of luck and timing in all of this as well, however this isn’t an isolated example. Look at  Picasso, Raphael, Titian, Andy Warhol, etc. etc. for further examples. And you’ll find the same thing time, and time again. All of them spent a tremendous amount of time working on their art and many became apprentices at very young ages to older and more experienced artists.  So no, artists are not born (if anything they are born into the perfect era), they are made through hard work (which most artists enjoy doing, so you don’t have to call it “work”)

For those of you who wish to achieve master status you should be aware that it takes years, and years of work. If you managed to work 8 hours a day, every day, it would take four years to complete (Ironically the same time it would take to complete a Undergraduate degree). However, if you wish to set your goals a bit lower than there is nothing wrong with that. You should work at your own pace, and this course is designed for you to do it whenever you have time. I have set forth the following weekly work schedule as a good starting point for those who wish to dramatically increase their drawing and painting skills. I’ve seen a simple schedule such as the one below work many times over the years. If you don’t give up, or lose patience I assure you that you can reach your goal if you are willing to persevere.

Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting)
Monday: 2 Hours (Drawing from Observation)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Artist Research/History)
Wednesday: 1 Hour (Drawing from imagination)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting)

Find a Life Drawing class in your community and start going. Take a sketchbook to a coffee shop and sketch the people there. Go to a park and draw trees. Make weird collages in photoshop and make drawings from them. Sketch when you’re on the metro. Sketch in the margins of your notebooks in class. Sketch on napkins at restaurants. Play Exquisite Corpse and other drawing games with friends. Draw your cat, your coffee mug, your boots, people on TV, your hand, your foot, or a corner of your room. There is never an excuse not to draw when we are all surrounded by objects that all have unique traits which, upon examination, are complicated and can increase your abilities. Trust me, if you draw every day, you’ll see huge improvements in your drawings over time. If you’re looking for tricks you won’t find them, you can only work them out yourself by practicing your craft daily.

One movement which I was a part of about 5 years ago was the Painting A Day project where many different artists created a painting every day and posted it to their blogs. For those of you who have blogs I highly recommend getting into the habit of updating them as much as possible. Not just with my assignments which are given but with your own creative visions and sketches. One of the most popular of these artists in the Painting a Day movement was Duane Keiser who since has stopped posting every day but still posts quite regularly small paintings of objects in his house. You can see one of his stop motion videos below, and visit his blog here.

So what else should go into your Artist Statement of Intent? Along with a schedule of how much time you can put aside for painting and drawing every day I’ve compiled a list of common questions which can help determine the path you wish to take and focus your true ambitions. These are questions which you should think about and write about in your blogs as you form your Statement of Intent. It is quite common for these questions to be asked during Foundation Year studies at many art universities throughout the world, and by thinking about them, and answering them, you can begin to reveal exactly what it is you wish to achieve.

Technique/Process
What types of techniques do you wish to incorporate into your work, and what type of processes are required to achieve the desired effect that you wish to crate?

Intent:
What do you want a viewer of your piece to take away upon “reading” your work? What ideas/feeling do you wish to transmit to your audience?

Content/Subject:
What is it that you wish to draw and paint? Are there themes which reoccur in your ideas and work?

Social/Cultural Concerns:
Are you interested in political or cultural concerns in your work? Can your work make a comment about society that can only be transmitted by a drawing or painting? What do you feel is the role of the artist, and do artists have a responsibility to make specific work for a specific audience?

Rules:
Are there any ethical rules which you wish to consider in your work? Do ethical or moral concerns prevent you from creating a specific work? If so, should they be ignored in order for you to realize your creative vision?

Function:
What is the ultimate function of your work, and why is paint the right medium to transmit your message?

Accessibility:
Should you limit the accessibility of your work because you find that self expression is more important? Or is it more valuable to create a painting which can be widely understood by a large portion of the population?

To make it even more clear just exactly what it is I’m asking from you. I’ve included the two following Statements of Intent as examples from which you can draw from. The names of the students are imaginary, and the statements are of my own imagination. I’ve used the common required amount of independent work at the Foundation level which is 20 hours a week for three months. Which is a total of 240 hours. At the BA level this would be increased to 40 hours a week.

Student Name: Leonardo Cattawampus
Class: Painting-Course.Com
Teacher: Jer
Title: Creating Modern Day Americana paintings in the style of Norman Rockwell

First 6 Weeks
Work Schedule: – 20 hours a week.
Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)
Monday: 2 Hours (Drawing from Observation at a Cafe)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Artist Research/History)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Drawing from imagination/Composition) 1 Hour (Editing photos/sketches)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)

For the next three months I wish to explore the paintings of Norman Rockwell, how they were received by the general public, and what techniques, as well as ideas he used in the creation of his paintings. I plan on making one final painting in which I will integrate both the research I’ve accumulated as well as the techniques I’ve learned about. I also know that Rockwell was a great draughtsman and I must increase my drawing and painting abilities which is why I’ve devoted a large section of my weekly schedule to painting and drawing.

I plan on making preliminary sketches, and also look for modern day American scenes which would be suitable for a painting. Because of this much of my time will be spent outside of the studio in the public where I can both photograph and sketch from real life. After collecting a wide range of both photos as well as on site sketches I plan on incorporating them into a final painting which I plan on executing during the last month and a half.

Work Schedule for Week 7:
Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)
Monday: 2 Hours (incorporating sketches into composition)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Drawing from composition)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Drawing from composition) 1 Hour (reflection upon past successes and failures)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)

Work Schedule for Week 8
Sunday: 5 Hours (Begin transfer of sketches/drawings/photos to canvas)
Monday: 2 Hours (finish transfer of drawing to canvas)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Begin Value Study on Canvas in black and white)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Finish Value Study on Canvas in Black and White) 1 Hour (reflection upon past successes and failures)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Begin to match colors to value scale)

During these weeks I plan on finishing the composition as well as creating a finished drawing with a value study to use for painting. I wish to continue increasing my abilities as a draughtsman which is why I’ve kept the 3 hours of Life Drawing every Thursday. By the end of the second week the value scale drawing will have been successfully transferred to the canvas. I will then begin experimenting with color values which match those that have been laid out in the value study.

Work Schedule for week 9 – 12
Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting)
Monday: 2 Hours (Painting)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Painting)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Painting) 1 Hour (reflection upon past successes and failures)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting)

During this last month I wish to finalize the painting and work out the smaller details. I also plan on looking at my work and comparing it to Rockwell’s and examine how successful I was in recreating a modern day Rockwell. I’m hoping that the research I did on the artist and his time period will be helpful in making these realizations, and be apparent in the final work.

Introduction to Color Theory

Introduction to Color Theory

Before we get into exactly what color theory is, and how it works, we need to first look at a broader concern as it pertains to how people experience works of art. This is the correct place to begin an Introduction to Color Theory as we will have plenty of time to delve into all of the principles and physical properties of color later. So, what exactly happens when we look at a piece of art and experience it with our senses?  This experience can be called an Aesthetic Experience. Aesthetics (also spelled æsthetics or esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature.”

Introduction to color theory

So what does this mean exactly as it relates to an Aesthetic Experience, and what does this have to do with painting? Well, believe it or not, you most likely encounter and experience many Aesthetic Experiences every day. These could range from looking at a flower and admiring its beauty, to sitting on the couch and watching a commercial. Both of these actions are sensory ones. Since you are a passive observer who is experiencing the world through sensation, and perception. As with any Philosophy there has been much disagreement throughout the years as to what exactly is happening in our brains when we have an Aesthetic Experience.

Kant said that aesthetic experience of beauty is a judgment of a subjective but similar human truth, since all people should agree that “this rose is beautiful” if it in fact is.

Shopenhauer believed that aesthetic contemplation of beauty is the most free that the pure intellect can be from the dictates of will; here we contemplate perfection of form without any kind of worldly agenda, and thus any intrusion of utility or politics would ruin the point of the beauty. It is thus for Schopenhauer one way to fight the suffering.

Oscar Wilde stated that the contemplation of beauty for beauty’s sake was not only the foundation for much of his literary career but was quoted as saying “Aestheticism is a search after the signs of the beautiful. It is the science of the beautiful through which men seek the correlation of the arts. It is, to speak more exactly, the search after the secret of life.”

So before we get into the nuts and bolts of what makes color theory work it is important to first understand that Aesthetics do exist, and the merits and qualities of what makes up an Aesthetic Experience have been debated for quite some time.

A common question regarding Aesthetics is whether or not they are universal, cultural, or personal. For instance someone may have a different reaction to looking at a painting of a rose who has a strong personal memory of the flower. Perhaps seeing roses reminds them of their childhood and cutting them in the garden with their grandmother. In this case it is important to note that Aesthetics aren’t necessarily a rigid set of rules by which one must abide. Rather that our Aesthetic Experiences are also guided by cultural as well as personal experiences. They are more fluid rather than concrete. With this being said it is also important to understand that there are a certain set of rules which have been successful throughout the years in creating a desired response from the viewer. To put it simply, how do we as humans create works of art that elicit certain internal responses in those who view our artwork? And this is where we come to color theory.

As many students on this site have probably already noticed I make a lot of correlations to music as this is an easy comparison I’ve found that many people can grasp. In the case of color theory it is no different. Simply put color theory investigates what elements work in creating a desired effect, much of which is the same as music (listening to music is also an aesthetic experience as it is an experience where someone is experiencing something with their senses that is beyond words).

First take a listen to Mozart’s Requiem while looking at Rubens’ Adoration of the Magi.

Notice how all the notes create harmonies that our ears latch on to? See how the tempo and intensity of the music changes throughout the piece to evoke a certain feeling inside of us? Pay attention to the lack of dissonance, and what type of emotions are stirred up while listening to this piece. Mozart’s Requiem is regarded as a masterpiece not only because of how it makes us feel, but also because of how Mozart interpreted music and utilized his own creative vision to use the tools of music (which had been around hundreds of years before him) to craft something new which struck a nerve with the listener. In painting, one of our tools is color, and how we place our colors on a canvas could be compared to how Mozart arrange his notes on paper.

Now lets listen to another composer who used these same tools of music to create a feeling of dissonance and anxiety. His name was Alfred Schnittke. Take a look at the painting by Jean Michel Basquiat below while listening to Schnittke’s piece and examine what type of emotions begin to well up inside of you.

Now, Schnittke used dissonance, a feeling of chaos, and strange time signatures in his work. Does that makes the work more difficult to listen to?  If so, does this make the work bad? Or is there really such a thing as bad music? And the most important question, could Schnittke have created these compositions without a firm understanding of the rules of music and how to take them apart? Sure, Schnitkke’s pieces aren’t for everybody, just as paintings by Jean Michel Basquiat aren’t for everyone. But what we’re really examining here is just how the use of the mechanics of sound and color are used in order to make us feel a certain way. As we look at the piece by Basquiat we may experience a similar feeling, but here we are experiencing things visually.

Hopefully you have gained an insight into just what Aesthetics as well as Color Theory are, and how to identify the different ways different artists can use the conventions of sight and sound to ellicit certain feelings, and sensations in those who view them.  As we continue on we will be looking at just what are the mechanics of color, and how to use what painters and scientists have studied for hundreds of years and apply them to our own works. It is important to remember however when embarking on this journey that these rules alone will not make “good” paintings. They are just tools, which when combined with finding your own personal inspiration can be manipulated to be used for your own desires in how you want to depict an object with paint, and more importantly, what Aesthetic Experience you wish to invoke in someone else.

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Oil Painting Step by Step

Oil Painting Step by Step

In this painting tutorial I go through a common step by step procedure on how to paint with oils. From the drawing, to the underpainting,  glazing, and final details.

Step 1: Find your source imagery and prepare it for painting. This could include photoshopping various elements in photoshop, collaging images from magazines, taking your own photos to paint from, etc.Then create a grid on your source imagery. This can be done in photoshop, or you can print the photo out and grid it out with a ruler and pen.

Step 2: Create a grid on your canvas which matches the size of your prepared imagery (ratios are ok, so for instance an image which is 5 x 10 could be scaled to a canvas which is 20 x 40 etc.) Mark each line on the grid with a series of numbers and letters so it is easy to find which square you are looking at and how it relates to the image you are painting from.

Step 3: Draw your imagery onto the canvas using a pencil using your grid lines as a guide to help you. If you are wondering why we use a grid, the answer is that it is much easier to manage smaller squares as opposed to larger ones. It also forces you to abide by the predetermined composition you initially created, so basically, it helps you make sure you can fit everything you want to on the canvas.

Step 4: Find large value shapes. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. For this step it is helpful to have a black and white version of the source material from which you are painting. If you have photoshop just take out all of the saturation of the color, if you don’t, then make a black and white photocopy of the image.

Step 5: Paint the large value shapes with the values they correspond to in black and white.(You can use Acrylic paint for this as it dries faster).

Step 6: Once you’ve completed your value study of the painting you are ready for color. Mix the colors you wish to apply to the canvas on your palette (Never mix on your canvas). You can use either opaque colors which will totally cover the value study, or you can use transparent colors and use the value study to help make your shadows.

Step 7:  Paint in the colors you wish to use, and use the value study to see how closely the value of the color relates to the value of the value study. If this is hard for you to see, then just squint you eyes until the color turns into a black or white shade.

Step 8: Make final adjustments and put in details.

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="https://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/cylinder-shape.jpg" alt="cylinder-shape" width="467" height="514" srcset="https://painting-course.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/cylinder-shape.jpg 550w, https://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

Analagous Color Scheme

Analagous Color Scheme

Lesson 13

The next most important part of color theory is harmony.  Color harmony is essentially the art of putting colors together that look good. That’s pretty much it la notice de viagra. I’ll keep using the musical metaphors because in music we also have harmony. So think about color harmony in the same way, except visually. When you here a song you can tell if the musicians are all singing in harmony or not, if there’s one person who is out of key then it also throws the others off as well. Think of color harmony in the same way.  When placing colors on a canvas you are creating visual vibrations which can either work, or fight each other.  Your goal may be to create intensity and a feeling of unease, and if that is the case then by all means use the opposite of what would be a comforting and harmonious color scheme.

Analogous Color Schemes

Analogous color schemes make use of colors that are directly next to each other on the color wheel.These colors are reminiscent of nature and can be calming to the eye. When using an analagous color scheme it pays to have a very high contrast between your colors. Take a look at the examples below and take note of how they make you feel as you look at them. With painting it is important to remember that you are creating an overall feel to a painting. You’re not just illustrating an event. Things likes analogous color schemes are simply tools which can be utilized to create a certain mood.

analagous-color-harmonies

Example 1: In this image of various analogous color schemes we can feel a kind of  groovy style. Very reminiscent of the 1960s because these types of natural analagous schemes were used very frequently in interior design.  What I want you as a painting student to start to see is how this particular color scheme evokes a certain feeling within you.

analagous-color-nature

Example 2:  Here’s a great example of analogous color schemes in space.  Notice that all these colors are also virtually the same value. The blue end of analogous color schemes can also seem serene and mystical.

analagous_color_scheme_2

Example 3: Here we can see how these color schemes are present in small sections of nature all around us.  When looking for this particular color scheme it is sometimes better to look very closely at a small section of nature. In the example above we see yellows, oranges, and some light greens mingling together nicely.

Extra Credit!: If you have access to a digital camera. Go out and take 20 photos of various analogous color schemes which you can find in nature.

Color Theory Basics

Color Theory Basics

In this Lesson you will learn:

1) What type of paint to buy (Materials)

2) How to control color intensity  (Intensity)

3) How to see the value (shade) of color. (Color Value)

Materials

First things first! It is important that you know how to buy the right paint for what you want to do.

There’s two types of paint. Transparent and Opaque. When you start painting it is HIGHLY recommended that you start by using only opaque colors. This will reduce the possibility of your paintings becoming streaky and dull. Transparent colors can be used later when we get into glazing. For now you need some strong opaque colors in order to learn how to mix your colors and get them to stick to a surface. So how do you identify which colors are opaque, and which are transparent? Many tubes of paint will have a small box graphic usually on the front underneath the brand name. If the box is black, then it’s opaque. If the box is half full then it’s semi-transparent. And if the box is white, then it’s transparent.   Stick to the basics.

The ideal starter palette of Opaque colors would include

Cadmium Red Medium

Cadmium Yellow Medium

Cobalt Blue

Titanium White

That’s it. You can mix all the colors you’ll need from these three. It should be noted that Cadmiums are toxic, as is Titanium white. So don’t eat them. They’re the best available and have been used for centuries. If you’re scared of them then ask the person at the store for help finding other opaque primary colors. I don’t know of any.

Second thing you need is a brush. For brushes there are a few different types. For now just buy a simple mid sized Flat, or Philbert. Around a 6 to an 8 (that’s the size as indicated by a number stamped on the brush). You don’t need any little brushes for details. Not yet. Just get some flat synthetics like the one below, and you’ll be fine.

flat-brush

Find an old cup you don’t want to use anymore to hold some water. And for a palette you can use a piece of cardboard.

The Color Wheel

At this point in the course you will be concentrating on a few basic elements of color theory.  This will be expanded upon later but currently you need to grasp the essentials so you can begin painting.

The color wheel

color-wheel

The three primary colors are Red, Yellow, and Blue. Primary colors are called “primaries” because they aren’t a mixture of two other colors.  When you mix two primary colors together you get a secondary color.  The secondary colors are???…..You guessed it. Orange, violet, and green. Easy isn’t it?  So, for those who don’t know, in order to make violet you mix blue and red. To make orange you mix red and yellow. And to make green you mix blue and yellow. Pretty straight forward.

Now, we’ve got some colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. yellow is opposite violet, orange opposite blue, and green opposite to red. These colors which are on the opposite side of the color wheel are called complimentary colors. It is important to memorise all the colors compliments because you use a color’s compliment in order to control color intensity.

Color Intensity

Color intensity is, well, the intensity of a color. Think about it as “brightness” or “radiance”. Color straight out of the tube is generally high intensity. In order to lower the intensity of a color (aka make it less bright) you are going to add a small amount of it’s complimentary color. For example: for red, you add a small amount of green to lower the intensity of the red.  Just a dab of green and the intensity of that red will come down. Yes they do get darker.

color-intensity

Now,  Take a look at the image below. We’ve got a red which is super intense at the top, then by adding green to that red we take down the intensity (as indicated by the second strip down). I know what you’re thinking. It looks brown!! That is where you have to be careful. Take a look at the second image. That is the “brown” (or more correctly a lower intensity red) surrounded by a black box.  That brownish red in the context of another color will be red.  For the purposes of this course you will be taking down the intensity of all of your colors by adding their respective secondary colors. This is because our eyes rarely see super intense colors in the real world.
Color Theory Basics

red-black

Assignment #21 Playing with color intensity.

For this assignment you will start with an intense color, and then slowly add it’s complimentary color in gradual amounts to create a color intensity scale.  As you can see in the examples below you can start with a Red, then add a bit of green to get the second gradation, and then more green to that mix to get the third gradation etc. When it comes to dark colors (Blue, and Violet) you can add a bit of white to these in order to see the color intensity manipulated. color-intensity-1

color-intensity-2

The Value Of Color

The darkness or lightness of a color is its value. Just as we can make grey scales from pitch black to white, we can also do the same with colors. Take a look at the image below. We’ve got our happy little primary and secondary colors cascading from light to dark.

color-value

This is the one you will be copying.

————————————————————–

And here we can see all of their values (darkness)

color-value-black-white

Now lets look at how we can use the value of color in painting.  Check out this painting by Rolling Stone illustrator Philip Burke. Notice how the shadows of the face are done in green, and bright dark reds,  but the painting still flows and makes sense. This is because the green/red is the correct value which corresponds to the shadow. You can throw any color in there and it will makes sense as long as the darkness of the color correctly matches. Think of whatever you are painting as a black and white photocopy, and you are simply mixing your colors to match the various greys on the photocopy. Also beware of red, it seems lighter than it really is. A medium red is actually very dark.

philip-burke

philip-burke-scale

Now compare the high value contrast of Philip Burke with the low level color contrast of Edouard Vuillard. In Vuillard’s painting  he broke the rules of what color value meant by keeping all of his colors this medium grey.  The gradations in value are extremely subtle, but they are still there nonetheless. In the black and white copy of you can still make out how Vuillard finely manipulated the value of his colors to create shadows and depth.

vuillard

vuillard-copy

Assignment #22  Color Value Scale.

For this assignment you will be copying the color value scale above.  The important thing to remember is that you’ll start with the color out of the tube

Important NOTES!:

Many claim that the real color wheel contains Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and K (which stands for key, not black) . This is true for printing processes and was largely taught to graphic design students in the 1990s. However using cmyk as a color wheel for painting doesn’t make much sense because it ignores a few important factors.

For instance. In printing, in order to make red, one must mix magenta with yellow optically. This means that in order to get a true red (following the cmyk model) you would need to mix a magenta, and then put a thin glaze of yellow on top of it.  But in painting there are many more variables at play. For instance there is no “red” as we all know when we go to buy paints. There’s cadmium red,  vermilion, and permanent rose and so forth and so on. But the point is that the red that we choose to start with can vary greatly from the get go.  When you create any palette of colors you are immediately limiting yourself  in some way.And if you limited your palette to cyan, magenta, yellow (not even specified), and key  (which isn’t a color, but a tone) then you would be given a different set of limitations.

There is one other commonly held idea about the “real” color wheel. It is a 12 color system based on a rainbow and the proponents believe that this gives an artist the largest possibilities for mixing .  If you want to try it the colors are

Titanium White

Cadmium Yellow Pale
Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium Red
Quinacridone Rose
Dioxazine Violet
French Ultramarine
Thalo Blue
Thalo Green
Cadmium Green Pale

rainbow

This set of colors could easily cost more than two hundred dollars. So that’s one major downfall. The second is that you shouldn’t think about one palette as your savior. It won’t be, in fact in the beginning your palette should be limited because the more tube colors you introduce, the harder it will be to create any type of color harmony. Also you should remember that artists personal decisions as to what colors to use on their palettes is as varied as art itself. There is no absolute answer one way or the other. Giving a beginning student this 12 color rainbow mix would be like buying a 7 year a drum set the size of a living room.

The palette I have given above is a very powerful starter palette. As you may have noticed the weakest colors created by this palette were the greens, and the violet.  If you are looking to make a stronger green then I’d suggest buying a Pthalo Green, and in order to push your violet I would suggest Dioxazine Violet. Remember though that it is important to master the basics before moving on to a more extended palette!

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How To Shade

How To Shade

Continuing our exploration of the elements of drawing/painting now leads us to Value and how to shade. Value is the term we use when referring to how dark or light a shadow is. This is extremely important as we progress towards painting because every color also has a darkness. We will be exploring the value of color in subsequent lessons. This easiest way to understand Value is to think about shading. The “value” is basically how dark the shading is.

Another important thing to remember is that every object because of it’s color will utilize a different section of the value scale. In the interest of clarity we will assign each differnt darkness on the value scale a number. 0 will be the darkest dark and 10 will be the lightest light.  Thinking this way enables us to see what range of values we will need to utilize in our drawings.  A black bowling ball in low lighting will have a value scale of around 0 to 6, while a snowman in the sun will have a value scale of around 4 to 10.  It is impotant to know where the objects we are drawing lie on the value scale because we want to accurately portray what is in front of our eyes. It is quite common that during figure drawing sessions that a beginning student will make the entire drawing all too dark. Making a caucasian model appear as if they were of African decent.

Drawing # 17 Value Scales

For this drawing you will be utilizing the grid below. Print out the grid provided and do your best to shade the values as close as possible. You can apply shade in a number of ways. As you can see in the example below the student has utilized different techniques including scribbling, making little circles, holding the pencil on it’s side, pointalism, and cross hatching.  Get creative and explore different ways to apply value to paper.

value-scale

How To Shade

Now that we have some practice matching values we can move on to applying what we’ve learned here to a drawing. Find an image (photograph) which has a broad range of values. Print it out (or you can use a photo or magazine image) .  It is important that you also have a printed out value scale at this point, or you can use the one you just shaded. As you look at your image – hold up the value scale right up against the image and find out how dark you will need to render the drawing. Be careful when looking at your lights (whites). Many times what you may assume is the whitest white ( 10 ) on the value scale will be closer to a light gray ( 7 ) .  It is not necessary to include all 10 values in one drawing. When you are starting out just try to get three or four different values in your drawing. The more values you can realistically render, the more realistic the drawing will look.

Drawing #18 – Value Drawing from a printed image  (charcoal)

Set aside an hour and half of time and try to copy the images major values as accurately as possible. Start off with gray paper.  You can buy gray paper, or rub down a white sheet of paper with charcoal and rub it in with a tissue until the entire page is a silvery gray.  Start off plotting out where the darkest darks go and work towards the light. If you are using gray paper then you can use white chalk to render your lights. If you made your paper gray by rubbing it down with charcoal you can use your eraser as a drawing tool and you will simply erase your lights.  You can use charcoal pencils, or the old fashioned sticks. Once the drawing is finished you can”fix” the drawing by spraying it with an aerosol hairspray. This will prevent the drawing from smudging. There are commercial fixatives available but there’s nothing wrong with just using hairspray.

How many different values can you see represented in the example drawing below? Before you learn how to shade you must learn how to see different values. Once you can look around a room, and imagine that everything is black and white, then you will know that you can draw virtually anything. How to shade is in reference to a technique such as cross hatching, or scribbling.

skull-drawing-med

copy of a duane kassan drawing

Drawing Skills: Measuring

Drawing Skills: Measuring

Lesson 9

This lesson will deal with learning how to improve your drawing skills by creating a unit of measurement for drawing. You will use your pencil to measure and draw a still life which will be set up in front of you. In the first drawing by Honore Daumier you can see that the practice goes back many hundreds of years. People still use it, because it works.

daumier-pupil-teacher-drawing

All you have to do is hold a pencil or brush at arms length, close one eye, and move your thumb up or down the pencil to make a measurement. then compare that measurement to something else. Check out these two photos of me measuring distances between points on my guitar.
drawing-skills
Here I measure from the bottom of the hole to where the neck meets the body.

measurement-drawing-2

I then keep my thumb in the same place on the pen, and compare my first measurement against the new one.  Now I can make a better estimate as to how wide I need to draw the guitar.  Judging from this photo it is about 1 and 1/3 pens wide at that point.  Now correlate these measurements onto the paper in front of you. Remember, you don’t have to draw it to the scale of your pen measurements. Once you’ve committed to the first initial marks on your drawing you have already created a measuring system.Your units can be whatever size you desire.

Amazon.com Widgets

Drawing #16 – Measuring and drawing a corner of the room.

For this drawing I want you to draw a corner of the room while using this technique. Set aside one hour of time for this drawing and keep measuring and drawing until the hour expires commander viagra belgique.  Remember that it is important to get a base unit of  measurement first!