I have finished up three paintings that I have been working on. One landscape, one stylized egret and one of my 'Body Language' painting - Joy Creates! which is very heavily textured. Artist Jackie
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Meet Bob. I met Bob the other evening when I was sitting in traffic. Living here in the low country, I see as many egrets in the wild as I do robins, if not more. He was in the ditch on the side of the road munching on something... bugs, crayfish, chameleons... he was having a feast bobbing his head up and down. He sort of noticed me watching him, but was used to traffic and didn't get distracted.
The sun was setting and I guess his dinner was done, so he swooped up into the air. He was framed in the side window of my car and I was thinking - what a great composition! It was a strong diagonal and an 'x' shape. The sun was just beginning to set and his white feathers were iradescent and reflected the colors from the sunset and all around. He didn't appear white anymore, more like a flying rainbow.
Of course traffic began to move, so I did a quickie thumbnail (which I cannot find anymore) but the image was stuck in my brain and I had to get it onto canvas. So it is not literal, but the reaction I had to my encounter.
It almost looked as if Bob was giving me the thumbs up or a small wave as he flew into the trees.
Thanks Bob! The painting is not quite done, but I really like how it is turning out.
Friday, March 11, 2011
This demonstration of a lighthouse painting features the Hatteras Lighthouse of the cape in North Carolina. I like the distinctive diagonal stripes. This painting is just 8x10" yet you do get the sense of scale of how large the lighthouse is.
When placing a single object in the painting, keep it off centered. Do not make a bull's eye out of it. Notice how mine is just to the left of center. I also kept the clouds and landscape very low in the painting. This helps emphases the height of the lighthouse. Even though clouds could be anywhere in the sky, keeping them low is a compositional device to feature the height of the building. Use this when painting tall buildings, tall trees, or anything or anyone you want to give height to.
Using multiple values in the sky also features the lighthouse. Keep the top of the sky darker and make the values lighter as you head towards the horizon. Since the sky is proportionally very large, you can have a large range of values from dark to light to increase the sense of space.
Do the background first - like setting a table, put the tablecloth on first, then the dishes and then the food.
When painting the lighthouse, block in the black and white first, but do not use black nor white. Save these colors for the shadows and highlights. If you go too dark or too light too soon you have no where else to go. So I used a charcoal grey and an off white for the base colors. Then I added shadows or each side of the column and a highlight just off center on the lighthouse and blended to capture the curvature of the building. Notice how the stripes that have a curved sweep at the sides of the buildings emphases the curve of the building as well.
The small scale of the keeper's cottage at the base of the lighthouse also gives clue to our brains on just how tall the lighthouse is. Keeping the foliage in the landscape indistinct also adds to the scale of the painting. I kept out birds as well, to be in scale they would have to be tiny so they would not add much to the image.
No matter the size of the canvas, you can always capture the scale of the image if you watch your proportions when you paint.
This demonstration illustrates a few concepts of putting a sense of space in your paintings. Begin with the sky, a darker value at the top getting to a lighter value at the horizon. Place the horizon a little lower or a little higher than dead center. Putting the horizon in the center does not make an interesting painting. Think of the 3 bears when composing the size of the 3 main areas of a painting, have a large Papa bear, a medium size Mama bear and a small Baby bear to make it just right. Here I have the sky as Papa, the sand/sea as Mama and the figure as the baby.
The ocean starts darker lower in the painting or the 'closest' inland and gets lighter at the horizon. But at the horizon of the sea or very large body of water, has a darker line.
The sand is darker at the bottom of the canvas and gets lighter towards the horizon, except if it is getting wet from the water, then it is a darker value at the water's edge.
Remember, these value changes do not have to be drastic, they can be baby steps of changes - but need to change some in order to create the sense of space.
The figure wrapped in the blanket is sitting, so there is a shadow under them. The cast shadow on the sand should be darker than it is.
The important part of the demo is the size of the figure. The number 7 is the magic number of the human adult figure. The average size of the figure if 7 heads. determine how tall the head is and the size of the upper torso from the waist to the head is about 2 heads tall. The lower torso is about 1 head length and the legs are about 3 head lengths longs. Even when you are painting an indistinct figure in the landscape, if you follow these proportions your figure will look realistic even if you paint it with just a few strokes.
Put people in your landscapes to add life to them - just keep the 7 heads in mind.