Monday, November 26, 2018

Oh Winter! Creative Time

"Red River Boulders" 11"x14" pastel
It's only November but with temperatures 15 degrees below normal, it's wintertime here. 
So I can bemoan it or embrace it for the quiet creative time it presents.

I"m doing both. I'm looking at the plein air sketches from this fall and working up larger studio pieces for the 2019 art fair season.

Plein air can be a challenge. For me it's best to think when going out in nature, "this is just a sketch to observe the natural world around me, not a time to create a final framable piece."

This plein air sketch, I think, works well. Good compositional movement and good observation of color.
"River's Bend - Fall Light" 7"x10" pastel sketch
This one is not very successful. I don't like the colors but these colors are closer to what I was observing than what the camera recorded. There are some elements here I can use in other work, as I did in the drawing at the top of the page.
"Red River Boulders" - plein air sketch

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Little House Color Fun

Let's have some more fun with color. 
If you have a design you like you can redo it using different color combinations and producing a very different scene.
The original sketch was done many years ago as I sat in a cemetery and gazed past the cemetery at this alone little house surrounded by some very tall trees.  I drew a sketch on a random piece of paper that happened to be in the car.
Original sketch

"Little House Morning" 
Sometimes I misspell the word "morning" as "mourning" but the little house looks too happy to be in mourning. 
For this next one, I just wanted to use opposite color on the color wheel (Blue the opposite of orange) and as I worked on it the meaning became clear - a nocturnal scene.
"Little House - Nighttime"
Three is more interesting than two so for the 3rd drawing I decided to add more trees and surround the little house with warm fall colors.
"Little House Fall"

Monday, November 19, 2018

Lucinda's Tree Final final

Knowing when to quit is always a problem when creating artwork.
This is where the piece ended on Tuesday night during pastel class
After not looking at the piece for a week - always a good technique - I saw some issues today that needed to be worked on.
Issue #1 the foreground was too dark and served as a block instead of a lead-in. And I added some orange on the left side next to the bottom of the tree in an attempt to connect the sunny field to the tree and the shaded foreground 
Adding more turquoise blue and some lighter purples over the dark blue in the foreground

Issue #2 - you really can't tell in the photo, but I lightened the background woods and modified the orange foreground weeds on the left. Unfortunately now the area looks muddy.
Pushing too far can create muddy colors
Issue #3 When to quit. I'm still not satisfied with the orange/blue-green area on the left, but this piece has been overworked. Time to stop!
Lighten the foreground and create a shaft of sunlight across the foreground shadow area

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Steps for Lucinda's Tree

In my Tuesday evening pastel class, the students liked the the expressive colored square "Lucinda's Tree" more than the very horizontal version that I had prepared a "Step by Step" printout. 
So here's the steps to create the more expressive colored version.
This is the original that my students liked.
"Lucinda's Tree" - square
Step 1 
Block in the shapes and create an underpainting. I washed in the underpainting with rubbing alcohol. As you'll remember, pastel is more vibrant when applied to a colored surface - a white surface seems to weaken the colors - more about that in another blog.
Step 1 - create an underpainting of the shapes and block in those shapes using dark colors for the shadow areas and orange for the sunny areas.
Step 2
Apply the first layer of color. I don't blend the colors with my fingers or paper towel. I prefer to allow some of the flecks of underpainting to show through which gives a more vibrant color. This photo shows the first layers of sky color over the pink underpainting.
The first layer of color over the pink sky. More layers will be added after the other colors.
Step 3-4
As I demonstrated I forgot to continue to take progressive photos. Sorry about that. Here's mostly the final layers of color. Tomorrow I'll post the final, final.......
Steps 3-4. Adding oranges and yellows to the sunshine on the field and blues and purples to the shadows. Modifying the orange on the tops of the trees in the woods with some lavender  helps to keep that color back along the horizon line.
I added peeks of the azure blue of the distant hills through the treeline to keep the woods from being a heavy color mass. I lightened the upper part of the sky with a lighter blue and lightened the horizon with pale yellow.
Part of the pink underpainting is still showing through.
Here's the original "Step by Step" which is the same little tree in the field but a more horizontal format, cloudy sky and more modified colors.
Here's the original Step by Step with the reference photo.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Orange Tree vs Purple Tree

Continuing with our color studies here's a color combination that does work and another that really doesn't work, and I'll tell you why.
"Alone" a warm color tree on a dark background.
In the top image the orange/yellow tree sits on a warm bright yellow field and the background is a blackest green row of trees. The tree and field move forward and the background drops back as it should.
"Alone purple" 
Have you heard the saying "shrinking violet"? 
Generally the color purple drops to the background especially if it's a cool purple, and red, a bright warm color moves forward. 
The color combination with the purple tree doesn't work because the purple tree drops back and red background comes forward. 
The light purple field and the purple tree want to drop into the background. The warm yellow sky moves forward. 
So this color combination not only doesn't work it is jarring with shapes and colors moving back and forth. It works if the artist's purpose is to create a design that disorients the viewer.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Steps for Lucinda's Tree

This is the final version of "Lucinda's Tree - Early Fall"
Here's a version of "Lucinda's Tree - Early Fall" and steps that show how they were created.
Feel free to draw along with me.
Sketch in with a dark pastel indicating location of darkest areas.
Second layer. Add more local colors

Friday, November 9, 2018

Lucinda's Tree Color Studies

Oddly blue tree - does it work? Interesting.
My previous post shows black and white value studies that explored different composition ideas for "Lucinda's Tree".
Today, I'd like to show different color studies which also include format changes.
Small color studies 2"x3", 4"x5", give you the freedom to experiment with different color ideas without committing to a large more time consuming piece which you would probably be more hesitant to experiment with. 
Purple and orange version
Mostly orange version
After working on some horizontal ideas I went to a square format.
Orange tree and yellow/green fields. In this one I added an indication of the fence

Here's 1 that I really like.
"Alone" Little orange tree with ominous background
and a small shining village on the hill.
This allegory is about what?

Try some color studies with your own tree designs. It's fun.