Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Big Three

In my last BLOG entry I talked about taking an active interest in your own education. With the wealth of material on how to draw and paint, this task may feel overwhelming. You must have a strong foundation in the basics. By dividing them into categories, you can tackle each one separately rather than everything all at once. I found you can divide it into three courses of study.

FORM (Drawing): 
The outlines of an object and the sense of it's bulk. The third dimension on a flat surface.

The degree of lightness and darkness of what you want to paint. Changes of value and value relationships.


Form, tone and color are not the only things you have to master to complete your education. But they are the big three Everything hinges on getting them right.

I'll go into detail on each in later posts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

All Art Is Self Taught...

All art is self taught whether it's painting, music or dance. Of course there are great teachers, books and all sorts of learning tools to take advantage of. What I'm saying is that you should take control of your own education. This means a little more work for you but the benefits are great. Look within yourself to seek your direction and goals. What type of art do you love? What painters excite you? What do you want to achieve with your work? Then by weighing your strengths and weaknesses you can clearly find what tools you'll need to get there. If you are in charge of your own training you will pick the right instructors who will fill your needs. The alternative is to study with teacher after teacher who will pour information into you... some helpful, but mostly not important to your particular needs. You may be led down the wrong path which for some, may take years to recover. Art education is confusing and contradictory. For example, you are told to use a limited palette by one instructor and then the next teacher will give you a list of 25 colors. You will do a tight monochromatic underpainting –  or do a loose, colorful block-in. That's where you have to decide clearly on what you want your paintings to ultimately look like. You have to have a clear vision of your work not someone else's. There are so many options, all valid... but if you take control then you will be able to decide on the right instructors and pull from them what YOU need. You can ask the right questions – help them to help you. Every painting and drawing will be a path to success. Life drawing and plein air painting will be purposeful exercises not mindless activities. There is so much to learn... but if you have a clear goal and decide to educate yourself... of course with the help of instructors, books, etc... you will move ahead.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Three Keys

When teaching my painting workshops... I usually begin by taking the mystery out of “learning” to paint and draw. I have found there are three keys to developing success:

1. TALENT: Like it or not we are not created equal when it comes to talent. Some people are just born with more talent when it comes to drawing and painting. Years ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, they exhibited one of John Singer Sargent's sketchbooks. Page after page of the most beautiful drawings... done at age 14. The starting line for the road ahead is not the same for everyone. But remember the road is long and it's not talent alone that gets us to the finish line.

2. KNOWLEDGE: The basics are easy to find whether you get them from an instructor or from a book. The more you know , the better you will get. It's as simple as that. If you are going to paint in color you must know color theory. If you are going to paint figures and portraits you must know anatomy... landscapes... perspective and so on. I never found learning the basics boring or a burden. In my opinion it's pretty exciting with results ate very turn.

3. PRACTICE: You will never learn to draw or paint if you don't DRAW and PAINT. It's obvious. People who get really good are the ones that do it all the time. They think art, talk art and love art.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some Books...

I have enjoyed looking at artists BLOGS for some time now and I am happy to finally have mine up and running.  Websites are great but BLOGS seem more fluid, immediate and informative. I love hearing the thoughts of other artists, seeing their new work and works in progress. 

The first thing I want to post is my book recommendations. I have read countless books on art and art technique. Here's a few that I can't live without:

• Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson. 
The definitive guide to painting the landscape. It's brilliant! I read this book once or twice a year and find something new every time.

• Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed  
• The Practice of Drawing by Harold Speed. 
What you need to know about traditional drawing and painting... a lifetime of info!

• Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar A. Payne. 
A beautiful book by one of the great California impressionists. Landscape painting taught by a master. (out-of-print for years but re-released at www.derusfinearts.com)

• Hawthorne On Painting by Charles W. Hawthorne. 
A wealth of information...

• The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.

• Brackman: His Art and Teaching by Kenneth Bates. 
I love this book. So clear, simple and to the point. It may be out-of-print but sometimes can be found at used bookstores or online.

There are also books on color and life drawing that I recommend as well... I will post those at another time.