I was talking to a well know painter from BC and she said that if the sun isn’t shining she won’t even go out to paint. She is looking entirely for the bright contrast that you get with full sun and that’s the only mood she is interested in painting. I think all painters are in love with the interplay of light, shadow and colour that comes with lots of light. I certainly enjoy that as well but I do notice that often I’m attracted to more subdued scenes with less vivid contrast and a more tranquil mood. I remember once painting at Sunshine Meadows with a group of very experienced painters and I was taken by the interplay between a foreground group of trees against a background of a wall of green trees. I asked one painter how she would do the scene and she said she wouldn’t because there was so little contrast. She wanted the blue sky against mountains and dark trees. My painting actually didn’t work out but I believe it could have if I had been more patient and more confident. Anyway, I think a lot can be learned from the more subtle interplay of values and colours in low light conditions. This is all by way of explanation why I was attracted to these cloud studies from BearsPaw. I look at these as doing my homework, really trying to see the differences of value and colour.
I’ve lately become very aware of how much I need the insights of others to see my work more accurately. I tend to be too dismissive, thinking things like, “It was only a practice”, or, “It doesn’t say what I wanted it too”. Sometimes these thoughts lead me to miss what’s actually in front of me. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and I am, therefore, trying to be less judgmental. This image is an example. I saw it as just another study of this waterfall in Waterton Lakes Park and was ready to dismiss it. I’m now trying to give it it’s own due and I have to admit that it has a certain energy that I like.
This is the view from our chalet at Big White Ski Resort. In the morning there was a beautiful sunrise then as the day progressed the clouds descended until almost the entire mountain range was obscured. This particular image is when the clouds were just starting to cover things. The details and colours are all muted. I really had fun painting this and at first I called it one of my sloppy paintings. Now, I don’t think the word sloppy is appropriate (even though I enjoy being sloppy at times) it’s really a painting that was done very wet in wet. I tried to get in some colour notes but again they are muted. I like the feel of this painting very much.
I took these photos at night of the scene used in the previous post. I didn’t have a tripod so some of them have focus issues but I like the colours and values of them. It’s an interesting exercise to try to paint night scenes. It’s a different arrangement of values and the different thinking needed to pull off a night scene help us to see ordinary scenes in a new way.
Just returned from a family event at Big White, the ski hill at Kelowna. This is the afternoon view from our bedroom. After a day of skiing it felt good to stay at home and paint. There is actually a solid row of Chalets and I tried to pick out just 2 to give the feel of the road leading up from our place. All the colours were done intuitively but I tried to be faithful to the values of the actual scene.
This last assignment, for me, is by far the most important in the entire course. I call it the Post Test and for this assignment the students do a self portrait from real life by using a mirror. It’s the culmination of all the activities and skills we have practiced. All along the way we have all worked on the same subject in a guided and structured way using photo reference material. Now for this last activity each student is on their own to capture a likeness from real life. To dramatically show how each student has improved I have them compare this last exercise with the very first assignment we did 12 weeks ago. That assignment was to do a portrait from memory, from a picture or from looking at someone. This drawing was done before any instruction and without any help. Now we can compare that drawing which I call the Pre Test with this last drawing and then each student has a very real indication of exactly how much they have improved. So the following posts present each student’s work.
Today was the final day of my Basic Drawing Skills fall class. It was an absolutely wonderful experience. While the students were working on their final self portrait I had some time and did these quick studies. One is a portrait of my mother sunning herself and the other is the daughter of one of the students. Since I’ve been working so much on portraits lately I’m kind of in the zone and it was a lot of fun to just jump in and do these studies. I find that one’s ability to judge proportion, and to accurately draw the features, like everything else, improves with practice.
I liked much about the painting from the last post. I loved the colours and the wet in wet technique. I had a problem with the composition, however. The lower part of the painting seemed unresolved. I felt cropping might help but instead I redesigned the image. This one, I feel, has a much stronger underlying structure with the 3 bands (the sky, the house & trees, and the foreground) forming a stronger composition. Now, I am just deciding what I thing about all the stuff going on in the foreground.
I’ve been reading a book on photography and the author emphasized often how important it is to capture the light in the early morning or evening. I set off for Bear’s Paw at 5:30 this morning not really realizing that it doesn’t get light until quite a bit later (try almost 8 am). I also ignored the fact that overcast days have quite an effect on the light. Anyway, I was there early, I waited and I did this picture which captured that overcast, snowy atmosphere. In spite of all it was an enjoyable experience.
Another idea from our trip to Waterton National Park. We along with about 10 other cars waited for an hour because we heard that the elk would be crossing this field to their night range.