On Tuesday this week I will be giving a workshop for a few local artists. My friend, Marge, thought up the idea and did all the work to sign people up who were interested. Another painting friend, John, volunteered his basement to accommodate the eight who dared take on the adventure....brave souls.
I needed to prepare for what I would be teaching. So, I thought why not take photos of my preparation and share with those of you who read the blog and might be interested.
It is always good to try new things. I find it especially helpful when I feel myself in a painting rut. It stretches the creative muscles and can break up a slump or push away annoying bad habits (of which I have many!) long enough to build up a little confidence.
If you are like me, you add a fear factor to the challenge of painting whenever you try to learn new things. "What if it looks like crap?...What if I don't get it to work?... What if some gallery owner sees my first attempt and judges me? What if all of my other work is destroyed by a meteor and only this practice piece is left and 500 years from now they discover it in an archaeological dig and my name is on it and...."
Artists like the dramatic. Hopefully, my class can help breakup some of that fear and we can have fun along the way.
First hint: Avoid freezing up.
When starting something new get out the charcoal or pencil and do a really quick sketch. You will be amazed at how many little things you workout before you even pick up the paint brush. Also, I find it really is a benefit not use the edge of the paper when working out the composition in a sketch. Mark off the size or shape of your canvas and leave a space around the drawing. The space frames the idea. I think this helps your mind grasp hold of what you intend to do.
Before you add any paint to the canvas, wipe the canvas down with a rag dipped into some linseed oil. In other words, wet the canvas. This helps keep the edges in the painting soft throughout the session.
I am only going to use Burnt Sienna. First, I brush it onto the canvas, then take a rag and wipe it across the surface. This gives you an evenly toned board with no brush strokes.
Now, using the side of a dry bristle brush ( no turps), gently rub the paint away, remembering to wipe the brush clean on a rag every few strokes. At this point you only want to map out the lights and darks. Pull the lights out of the background using the side of the brush to avoid harsh edges. Make sure you are brave enough to try this with as wide a brush as possible.
This is as far as the brush can take you towards the light.
In order to pull even more light out you need to use a dry rag and some pressure. Remember NO Turps!
Start adding some paint to go toward the dark side.
Second Hint: Use only the side of the brush ( you can see my brush is nearly flat against the canvas) and try to only paint in vertical strokes, or as close to vertical as possible. This really prevents you from painting lines and helps you to think and paint with tones. Remember, no fear, keep moving with soft vertical strokes . You are adding darks to the mid-tone, don't think about anything that is lighter than the mid-tone here.
Congratulations, you have basically mapped out darks, mid-tones and lights without using lines.
Keep modeling by adding paint for darks and lifting paint for lights. When you are ready, add a little white paint to hit the highlights. Notice if you blend white with the burnt sienna it really gives you a cool light. To make the table cloth lighter, don't add white.... This is where you can use your turps! Use a rag dipped in turps. It will pull out the white of the canvas giving you white with some warmth.