Sunday, October 30, 2011

Perspective on the Beach

I had the good fortune to be given a helpful hint for painters and permission to share it here from a very good painter on the other side of the pond as they put it in England, Rob Adams

This is how you can get your figures on the beach (or street) in proper size and perspective, we have and innate sensitivity to the figure so it's quite noticeable when it's not right.  It also works for birds or rocks or bits of drift wood. Its an easy simple way to get it right.

He made it very basic, 

I just tried this with some gulls on the beach  it works very well...

 First get the nearest figure to a size that looks right for you. Then draw vanishing lines from the head and feet to the horizon. Use the lines to measure the figures at the points you want to place them.
 Now cut out the different sized figures and fit them on the canvas. now you can pull horizontally to where they need to be, which allows you to check out the size and place for composition.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Moveable Horizon

I just completed this trio of small studies. I wanted to see what influence the horizon has on a seascape.
Basically you have 3 choices, up high, mid or low on your canvas. Psychologically you place your viewer in a different relationship to your painting by where you place it. This is only part of the equation, the size of the foreground counts too. If you want a lot of wave action, place it high, you need the space to get the wave up close. If you want a grand view place it low, that means you will be featuring a lot of sky so make it worth watching with subtle colors or cloud patterns.  These studies will be available in the Current Paintings page link at the top of the blog. All are views of North Salmon Creek beach where I go for the long rolling waves, the only place along the coast where this happens,

In these quick studies I tried to keep everything the same except where the horizon hits. You can learn a lot by looking for where the artists put their horizon lines in landscape, as a viewer try to be aware of how that changes your own feeling as you go into the work, and then take that understanding outside to the sea, and standing on a cliff, tilt your head so the horizon is high or low, and catch the fleeting changes of mood inside you. There are so many ways to appreciate Art and Nature, but it all starts inside first.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Luminous Moment

                                                         No. Salmon Creek Beach at Twilight  7x11 oil on linen
When this is dry I'll soften the transition of fog and sky, but I'm leaving it as is, not quite tweaked to finish, because TA DAH it is the first one that has a particular color effect I've been going for over weeks of time, while progressing through the current 100 Challenge studies of the sea, working to master the longer views of the sea. I'll do a post later on what a 100 Challenge is and why I find them so useful. Keep in mind I have done only studies for over two years to give myself mastery of the basics  in preparation to do my first larger scale works. My own private seascape atelier program

There is an amazingly beautiful light after sunset, that lasts for about 10 min max and turns the sea into a luminous, heart wrenchingly exquisite moment. Most people leave after the sun goes down, next time you are at the sea stay a bit and see if you can see this moment.  It shows best if the sky has thin overcast. Of course I will never be able to really paint it, but coming close will count.

At this time of light all the values are close, if you squint, the sea and foam make one area with just a bit of the top foam lighter where it goes above the main wave, and the scud coming in is a violet shade against the more viridian of the waves...then the sky reflects brilliantly into the sheeting of the spent wave. I have brushed in the foam more directly without fussing with it, much harder to do than laboring over it, by the way, if it is not right the whole area is scraped down and you load the brushes to paint it again. One or two excellent strokes will get it right. Sargent was known for this in his portraits. Often spending a whole day on a face only to wipe it out at the end. The dashing in energy of just the right stroke and fresh paint really adds to the movement I'm trying to get in the foam. 

Here is a detail of the lightest light and darkest dark, the values are very close which is what makes it such a challenge to capture. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Is It Blue or Is It Yellow

Many years ago I read a shocking book called Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green. Since every painter knows they do I was intrigued. It turned out to be one of the best books on color I've ever come across, it must be as years later it's still published, although I think the original cover was far more attractive.

I came across a statement lately that ties in with this book, so sorry can't remember where on the web I saw it, so if you know please leave a link in the comments.

Color choice is so hard for beginning painters, and for the more advanced and even expert is still challenging. As you learn to paint there are all kinds of formulas and methods, it can become very confusing. So I like this little aid, because it's so simple.... here it is in my words and how it applies to seascapes.

The premise is painter only needs to ask 2 questions about color in the landscape. Is it blue or is it yellow? Red is either a blue red, like alizarin, or a yellow red like cadmium, so you don't have to think about that.

When I look out across the view of my latest paintings, from No. Salmon Creek Beach at sunset......

You can see the choices I made, the very late light this time of year, makes the thicker water in the waves a kind of green blue, and where the water is thinner it becomes shades of yellow.  Yellow also is the color of the reflections from the sky and sun. In landscapes,  the distant land will be in blue ranges, some of it warmed with yellow earth tones, like bt, quin orange, or bt. siennas, but still toned by blues.  Next time you're outside painting or even just looking, scan your view and see how it looks to you if you are just seeing the parts,  is it blue family or is it yellow family. It does make things easier to decide, and changes the old is it warm or is it cool mind set, a cool yellow and a warm blue are possible after all.

Enjoy the view!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

No way to say how much he has changed our times and lives. This quote is from his 2005 Stanford address. 

 ".. almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."  - Steven P. Jobs
Thank you Steve for your life and your courage, but most of all for your belief in what is possible

Saturday, October 1, 2011

the Grand View and Intervals

One of the hardest things about these very big coastline views is to make sure no two intervals are the same. When our linear left brain gets ahold of things it starts making spaces the same and gets  repetitive. A way you can test this is to take a 4x5 space and put in 9 dots at look and see how many are about the same space apart. Do this again and make every space between every dot different,  You will see this is quite a job.

 Nature does not repeat intervals or shapes, even with thousands of leaves on a tree each one will be different. Our eyes through millions of years of evolution are geared for that.  One of the differences between top professional artists and ranks below them is the pros know this secret. Waugh the great American  seaacape artist  said never repeat spaces or shapes, and if you look at his work you'll see he didn't. (He is one of the greats I study and will speak more of him later)

  So in these grand views, it's very easy to start to make things repeat spaces, both positive and negative. Remember every time you make an edge you make two shapes one of the object and one for the space around it. We painters work on 2 D surfaces. So since the tendency is to make the same spaces, one has to be very vigilant to keep that from happening and killing off some of the pleasure the eye and mind take in looking around our paintings, we have, after all, only a few square inches, and Nature has hundreds of miles. So I have finally hit on a method to help me in this.  Most well trained painters are aware of this same interval thing, and on a simpler work it can be done by eye, but on these very small very complex works of  the grandview, I've found it very hard, so the tool is a big help.

I'll still have to be careful when painting to not put them back the same again.

Above  you will find a beginning painting worked out in charcoal, and a little drafting tool with points. With this I can measure an interval and then take that measure and move it around the painting to see if any spaces are repeated. If they are, then now is the time to adjust them I've found several, and each one I changed  helped the painting shapes be more interesting and graceful