Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Christopher Schink Workshop 2012

Just returned from a three day workshop with my all-time favorite teacher, Christopher Schink, along with some wonderful friends. It was held at Sylvia Megerdichian’s Art Box Studio in Upland. The majority of people in the workshop are accomplished artists, so it was a bit intimidating. However, I had the good fortune to sit next to Ruth Ellen Hoag, whose work I greatly admire. I had already begun to experiment with black lines, so watching her take it farther with india ink was inspiring.

The title of this year’s workshop was “Designing Figures and Shapes.” As artists, Toph says, we need to develop our own graphic language  (form) to convey our intent, ideas, and emotions (content). This workshop focused on using shapes and figures to convey the content. Toph encouraged us to regard the figure as just another shape, as an element to be incorporated into our overall design.
In order to get us to attend to the figure as a designable shape, our first exercise was to do two or three paintings of the same subject with different types of distortion or stylization. Here are my three.

Next Toph taught us about arranging figures in pictorial space as an important part of the design process. One thing to consider is the “background” or “negative space.” The figure always seems so important, but the background must be designed with just as much care as the figure. It should also have interesting shapes, along with the same type of painting treatment as the figure. OR we can make the figure really large, eliminating most of the background as an issue.
Here is my attempt to integrate figure and background into an overall design:

I think I prefer this attempt to make the figure very large:

As Toph kept reminding us, paintings done in workshops are PRACTICE, and when you first try something new, it will probably not be very good. I will try these ideas again and incorporate what I’ve learned. 

Thanks, Toph!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Using My Computer

Artists need to learn to self evaluate. I can look at someone else’s painting and immediately tell what needs to be done to improve it, but it annoys me no end that I cannot do this for my own paintings. It helps to look at them different ways, which is the reason for the advice to evaluate with a mat. Other ways include looking at them upside down, looking at them in a mirror, and looking at them upside down in a mirror. These different perspectives of your own paintings can help you see more clearly what needs to be improved.
For me, taking a photo of my painting and looking at it on my computer makes faults glaringly obvious. I don’t know why, but problems just show up more clearly on the computer. In addition, you can change it to a black and white picture and check the values. By taking a photo, looking at it on the computer, fixing whatever bothers me, and doing this several times, I can end up with an interesting series of photos of the evolution of a painting.

And now I can see something that still bothers me -- that added red blob on the left does not look right. Back to the drawing board (well, painting table).

Actually, a lot of it bothered me, so I changed it to this, a couple of days later:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My "Studio"

Sometimes people are interested in how other artists arrange to paint and work.

Here are photos of where I paint and draw inspiration. My studio is 1/2 of our "great room," with sky lights, and views of the back garden, where we have native plants and a bamboo forest. This room feels airy, light, and spacious. I have several tables and storage units on wheels that can be moved around as needed. My paint supplies and computer are always at hand. My workspace is generally neat.

I also have a little "art room" that serves as grandchildren playroom and guest room as well. It has a closet and cabinets to store more art supplies and books. There are narrow shelves along one wall where I can put paintings I am working on or thinking about. Barbara Nechis says we should put paintings we are working on out where we can see them, so we can get used to them, since we have "never seen them before." Another wall has paintings I have collected over the years by my favorite well known artists, such as Christopher Schink, Skip Lawrence, Barbara Nechis, Tom Fong, and Linda Kemp, and they serve as inspiration.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

At last!

FINALLY, I got into a National Watercolor Society show! The NWS Member Show will be April 5 through May 13, with the reception April 15, 2 to 5, at the NWS gallery in San Pedro. The gallery address is 915 S. Pacific Ave, San Pedro. This is what was accepted by Juror Glen Knowles:

"At Last!"

Friday, February 3, 2012

House Keys

Today I did a nonobjective painting based on a distorted grid. I penciled in a grid, then distorted the lines and erased some of them, until I had a fairly interesting design with one interesting shape in the middle. Can you see the underlying grid in the painting below?

Slathering muted colors in the various shapes was fun, and then came the challenge of tying it all together with details. I have always been amazed about how one little shape in a painting can change the entire piece and make it hold together. I think this happened with this painting. Here it is without the little shape:

And here it is with the little shape:

Can you detect what is different in the two paintings? Do you agree that the second one seems more unified? There are several other elements unifying this design, including the gray fence-like structure and the gray of the house to the right of it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Heart of a Flower

Trying to apply recently explored concepts, I did a very loose, spontaneous underpainting that looked flowery. With the flower theme in mind, I defined a few petal-like edges (the whiff of reality) and tried to create a color dominance that the underpainting lacked. I actually like the resulting nonobjective painting that feels like flowers, though it depicts no real flower that I've ever seen.