Monthly Archives: April 2011

Maple Leaves

I have done many versions of this image.  The first one was when I was completely inspired by the photo I saw of a group of colourful maple leaves.  That painting captured my emotional reaction and was done in an intuitive manner.  (This image is available in an earlier post)  Then I decided that I wanted to teach this subject so I began practicing it and each time it got a little less interesting.  I was strongly reminded of the advice I got from Stephen Quiller when I attended his workshop, in his studio, 2 summers ago.  He was speaking about the phenomenon that many artists experience when we do a little study that just has some magic and we want to reproduce it in a larger format.  Often these larger versions lack the magic.  He said the reason is that when we do the larger version we are still involved in the small study, in a sense trying to copy it, and we are not listening to the painting we are actually working on.  I completely agree with this and notice it often, for example with this image of the maple leaves.  I kept looking at and trying to copy what happened in the original study and it never worked.  I did about 6 versions and this one is the only one that worked and the more I look at it the more I enjoy it.  Interestingly, at first I didn’t think much of it and I believe that’s because it still wasn’t that original image.  But over a few days of looking I started to see what was there instead of wasn’t there and was very happy with it.  The lesson I had  from this whole process is to be fully engaged and ‘listen’ to the work in front of you.

Maple Leaves
9″ X 12″

$105 (matted including S & H)

Coloured Value Study

This image one more time. This time I wanted to do a naturalistic colour scheme using green, red, and blue.  I also wanted it to have a lighter touch, a mid key painting.  I have to fight nature to do this so I’m quite pleased at the way this painting worked out.  I will have to live with it for a bit to see how well it works.  It was challenging to keep my focus on value.  I had to keep checking what value was needed for the section I was painting ie this is the distant hill so it should be a lighter, more neutralized colour.

A Valuable Lesson Learned

This is another version of this image that I’ve done a few times over the last few days.  On the one I did for the video clip for my Mastering Colour class I felt that the darks were a little heavy handed and in this version I wanted to lighten up.  I really notice that in the reflections of the boats.  They were done with one wash so I tried to get the correct value right off the bat.  Dark, but not too dark.  I feel that the reflections have a very organic feel to them.  I also had a lot of fun putting the big ‘Z’ on the roof of the shed beside the boats.

Colouring The Value Study

I’m very pleased with the process involved in this picture.  I took the gray value study from the last post and tried to recreate it using colour.  I feel this was accomplished quite successfully.  The reason I’m pleased with this is that it gives me a more logical way to look at my paintings.  Value was a concept that I struggled with and I have had to work at it and this painting and the process that lead to it is very instructive for me.  I read recently that the 3 most important components in a painting are: 1) value, 2) shape and 3) colour, in that order.  I’m beginning to understand why value is the most important even if it’s the colour that we initially respond to.  We respond emotionally to colour but it’s value that makes the colours work.

Boat Study
watercolour, 14″ x 11″

For information on this or any other painting contact me.

Grays Make Pure Colours Sing

Grays and neutrals are an important part of most successful paintings. One of the reasons is that they make the purer colours stand out or ‘sing’.  An appropriate combination of grays and brighter colours is one way we can make our paintings ‘work’.  In this image I used a number of values of a basic gray made by mixing yellow, violet, and some blue.  The grays make the pure yellow, orange and red windows really stand out and the value leads your eye through the picture and deposits you at the centre of interest, the bow of the front boat.

Monochromatic Value Study

This image is the one I used in my Mastering Colour class and today I videotaped a painting demo and this is the image I created on the video.  I’m still so pleased with this image.  It’s simple so everyone succeeded with it but it’s also extremely valuable in it’s focus on value.  The colour I used was a mixture of Quinacridone Rose and Viridian.  I find this a very satisfying image.  It’s a study but it’s also a complete painting with a full range of values that are interesting arranged.

Light & Bright

This image began as a value study with basically 3 values, the bright yellow orange leaf, then the red leaves and finally the dark background.  It is also mostly painted in a negative style with the darker red leaves defining the lighter yellow leaf etc.  When I finished it, though, I just stepped back and thought what a lovely, bright, colourful image.

Maple Patterns
watercolour 10-1/2″ X  6-3/4″
$95 matted including S & H

For information on this or any other painting contact me.

Monochromatic Colour Scheme

Monochromatic Colour Study

One of the challenges for new painters is to master value.  One way we can focus on value and therefore learn a lot about it is to basically eliminate colour by using a monochromatic colour scheme ie just use one colour.  Of course if you choose to use yellow or some light colour you would need to mix it with the complement to be able to render darks but it would still read as primarily yellow.  In this little painting I choose a colour that had quite a dark value all by itself.  My colour was actually a mixture of cad red light and viridian.  When used with almost no water it produces a  strong dark value.

I find this a particularly pleasing composition.

Analagous Colour Scheme Again

West Coast In Red

It has been a fascinating experience to teach this Mastering Colour class.  You never learn anything as well as when you try to teach it and that has been the case here.  By practicing, repeatedly, various colour schemes and trying to boil them down to their essence to teach them to others I’ve learned many valuable lessons myself about painting.  I’ve done variations of this image before but this is the one I did in my studio for one of my video clips.  It is acrylic but was done completely in a watercolour style until the very end when I laid a few hints of white on top of the darks.  It was such an involved process to video tape and edit the painting of this image twice, once in watercolour and once in acrylic that I didn’t get a chance to do the acrylic video but this is the final stage of that image.  Doing variations of this image over and over certainly brings about some fatigue but I noticed that when I am painting on camera I have to make decisions more quickly and more decisively and my painting is benefitting from that.  The video clips are available at this link. If you visit the clips be sure to enter the contest I’m running.