Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Sketches on location

Prague, web

This is a sketch I did in 2012 in Prague. It took very little time (maybe 20 minutes) but I was able to capture the mood of the place at the time. Something that is always my goal when painting on location. This is a pretty small format (about 7 “by 10”, or 17by26cm)

Deciding on size and format should be done in the moment. As I painted this, there was pretty foul weather so I decided to go small, in case it started to rain. I also have all kinds of different paper sizes ready and mostly already taped to the painting surface, so I don’t waste lots of time getting things ready.

Drawing is first, but should not take longer than 10 minutes, at least with a pretty straight forward subject like this. I spray my palette before starting the drawing, that way my paints are wet and ready to go. Anything to save time!

Sketches like this can serve as a base for a bigger studio painting, but are also worthy on their own. Something of the place will usually go into a quick online sketch and cannot be replicated in the studio. Therefore, plein air painting is crucial!

Demo and workshop at the Valley Watercolor Society

       (click on thumbnails for a larger image)

I was invited to do both a demo and a workshop for this big group of watercolor painters! My thanks to Barbara Hope and her amazing organizing talent, making this one-day workshop a big success!

One of the lessons I like to drive home in my classes and workshops is that painting is a visual language of shapes, line, value and color. Notice that I mentioned color last! Ironically, students usually get hung-up on color, thinking there is some kind of secret color combination that brings magic into your paintings.

Far from it! The two most important things in painting are values and shapes.

Let’s start with shapes:

Anything and everything we paint is a shape! Let’s say we paint a building with 50 windows and spires on top (it doesn’t
matter what the building is) It is important to get the shape of the building right, the windows are almost irrelevant! Good drawing skills and a sense of perspective are imperative for this task.
I have never seen a good painter who doesn’t know how to draw!

Then there’s tonal value:

Tonal value means nothing more than the strength of your wash, the amount of pigment or pigment to water ratio.
We are basically faking three dimensions on a two dimensional surface! Value is the key to do it. Think of sepia photography and how beautiful it is, yet there’s no color!
If the values work in your painting, it will be a success. If they don’t work, it doesn’t matter how pretty your color mixes are or detail work is, it won’t rescue the painting!

Horse carriage, Prague 11x15, by frankeber 2012      Horse carriage, detail by frankeber 2012   (click on thumbnails for a larger image)

This painting was done in the studio, after an on-site sketch I brought home from Prague. The horse carriage was not in the original sketch. It came from a few pictures I was able to snap when it went by. Please note that the horse carriage is kept to an absolute minimum and the details are not really there! Your eyes fill them in. It is just a few scraggly lines and …here we go: the correct shape!!

Adventures in plein air painting, Part 2

Prague_pleinair1, by frank eber 2012 Prague_pleinair2, by frank eber 2012 Prague_pleinair3, by frankeber2012

In the last two weeks, I have painted on location in Prague, Dresden and Nuremberg.

This blog post is about comments that you get while painting outside. I don’t know what the motivation is for someone to comment on what an artist is doing, but I find it quite fascinating. I think this morning, I had one of the best ones yet–therefore it is time to put them down in writing!

While painting in Prague: (no particular order)

“Excuse me, do you know where the post office is?”
“I am looking for a pub where they serve ‘black beer’, do you know it?”

While painting in Dresden:

“Can we auction this off once you’re done?”
“Are you from here?”

While painting in Nuremberg:

“Do you think I can park here?” (The guy even made me take my ear buds out.)

and the best one yet:
“Did you paint this from a photograph?” (Remember, this is on location, looking at the subject matter right in front of us.)

Random Comments (Can’t remember the location.)(Not everyone is a moron, right?)

“This is lovely.”
“Did you paint this?” (I am still working on it.)
“I can only paint by numbers.”
“I stopped doing watercolors, now I do mixed media.”
“Did you make this paper yourself?”

And lastly, my favorite by elderly Germans, after looking at the piece and watching me for a while:

“Hmmmpf.”

Let’s see what happens in France…