Category Archives: Arizona

Drawing skillz

A good way to approach a drawing is to first draw in as true proportions as possible, then make a second drawing from the first. This time just drawing the essence of the first, omitting stuff. Simplifying is easier that way, since we no longer look at the original reference but already a ‘version’ of it.
If using a photograph, you can do the same thing. Your individuality will go into the drawing and later the painting, which is what you want. You can always check your changes with the original for accuracy or perspective, but you are essentially making a free interpretation of the picture rather than slavishly copying everything you see in the photograph.
I find that while it also works when painting outside, it is less practical because of the time factor. Light is changing rapidly and it’s difficult enough to do one drawing. It takes many hours of plein air painting to sort of develop the ‘instinct’ of what needs to go in and what can or must be left out! Put in the time!
A drawing or painting is often more interesting when parts of it are left unfinished. The detail and finish in the other areas will have a bigger impact and stand out more.

Ultimately, my goal in painting is beauty as oppose to verification of truth. Generally, people don’t put paintings up that are ugly. I know there is art for all kinds of reason and that’s just fine, but for my art, beauty is pretty important!

Color Temperature

Warms and cools

Color mixing should only be categorized with the words ‘warm’ and ‘cool’. Never get hung up on a formula. As painters, we all have our go-to colors and hear about what other painters use, but let’s look at this more closely:

Every painter is using primary color mixes in some form, a few secondary colors or convenience color like orange, purple or turquoise and/ or earth tones. There’s always a red of some sort, a yellow and a blue involved, especially when it comes to grey mixes. In the end, all our palettes are remarkably similar, yet the outcome is very different from painter to painter!
What really matters is ‘how’ you use your pigments, of course. There is an enormous subtlety in color mixing that is hard to understand and put into action.

Color temperature, as seen in my painting above, achieves the illusion that the rock formations in the background are actually further away from us than the ones in the foreground left and right. So, not only value but, equally important, temperature. By just adding a bit more purple and blue, it starts receding more. We sometimes hear that we have to always soften the edges in the background. Notice how all edges on the far formations are actually hard, except where the low cloud hangs on the right!
Never be afraid to put a harder edge if that’s what the landscape dictates. If you get the right value and temperature, it will look perfect.

When setting up a painting palette, it makes sense to use the color wheel as a guide, that way the pigments are arranged in a chronological way. Start with the yellows into orange, red, purple, blues, turquoise and green. Earth colors separated and that’s it. You’re good to go.

Most backgrounds in watercolor paintings look pretty similar in all of us. What really sets us apart is the personal calligraphy and interpretation of subject matter. That is remarkably different from painter to painter!

It helps to paint as much as possible. Only through experimentation and endless trial and errors are we able to develop our own voice. Mimicking another artist’s painting style and color choice is only helpful if it helps us find our own and that takes time. It also helps to have a place where you can go and paint without having to start setting things up first, like on the kitchen table. It is a big advantage to step into a room to do just that one activity, no distractions. A peaceful place where creativity can happen. You still have to make it happen but creating the right circumstance is half the battle!

Queen Creek sunset

Queen Creek sunset, 2010 by frankeberQueen Creek Sunset, 2010 ::: About 19″ x 10.5″ : 48 cm x 26 cm
Posted in the Arizona, USA gallery

I have recently been on a week-long trip to Arizona. A state with truly amazing landscapes and driving through it  you’d half expect to see Indians with horses riding on the prairie, just like in the old movies! Having said that I had kind of a hard time finding the right motifs. I really did not want to do a painting with a cactus and red rocks in the background (the quintessential AZ scene?). Maybe I am crazy–what else is there to paint, you might ask–I just don’t like picture postcard scenes and I also don’t like “pretty paintings” in general. I think I am guilty though, because this one almost falls into that category.  Almost.  A pretty sunset and yep, there are the rocks too…

Although it seems I used a wide color spectrum in this piece, I actually only used about three colors: cobalt blue, permanent magenta, burnt sienna and the tiniest amount of neutral tint. That’s it. Instead, as is the case in all of my work, I focus on a wide range of tonal values instead. There is no green in the trees, it’s your eyes that put the green there. I saved the white of the paper for the cars.

This view can only be seen from up high on the rocks. We were out rock climbing for the day and I came upon this view when topping out on a route. I knew right away that this was my painting right there. Since it is kind of hard to paint landscapes while climbing 200-foot rock faces, I had to content myself with taking pictures this time around. I did wait before the final rappelling off the rock to take this shot.