Once again I supported the Yosemite conservancy art program by teaching free classes for almost a week. In return, I got to stay in this magical place for free. Still a good deal, considering that the lodge is still $250 per night even this late in the season! Even without it, I feel good about giving back a bit and sharing my art with people who might not be able to afford a workshop.
My classes were filled every day and, despite some rain storms we had a wonderful time! Archer liked it also, even though he looks a bit apprehensive when we stopped at Tunnel view!
During my week of outside teaching I noticed that many students don’t understand the concept of color harmony. Many paint a blue sky, green trees and yellow grass creating ‘sectional paintings’ where one area has no relationship with the other. The results often look amateurish or child-like.
The key is to limit the palette to mostly primaries and be aware that every color has a bit of the other colors in it too. If you have a red barn in a green field it sticks out like a sore thumb, but if you put a little bit of that red in the grass and a little bit of that green into the barn, it looks much more natural and beautiful.
Lastly, there is a so-called super color in every painting. The color that sets the mood of whatever it is you’re painting. It can be found throughout the picture and helps to make the work look more unified.
We’ve all learned painting rules during our Academic training or in workshops when we started out.
I always remember Kevin McPherson’s famous line: ‘Black in sunlight is lighter than white in shadows’. The other famous one which I can’t remember right now who said it: ‘the darkest light in the light has to be lighter than the lightest dark in the shadow. Keep the light and dark tonal ranges separate to show realistic form.’
How come there are so many paintings out there where those rules are seemingly disregarded?
That’s what Andrew Wyeth called ‘going beyond the facts’. Looking at the images below it’s easy to see that the value range in these pictures must’ve been at least partly invented. The tall foreground grass is too dark even though it’s obviously in the sun and the back hill is way dark for a more dramatic effect.
It’s even more obvious in the second image: why are the blanket and the flower patch on the lower right so dark even though they are obviously in the sunlight?
The best answer is simply that art should be about expression and that fact is often completely forgotten or missed by many painters. I think it has to do with the fact that the general public judges art by how realistic it is painted. You often hear the phrase: oh wow, that looks just like a photograph. Like that’s the best thing ever! To some that is more of an insult than a compliment (harshly spoken of course) because what is the ARTISTIC point of copying something verbatim, even if you achieve photo realism? What message is the painting carrying? Where’s your personality in it?
Having said that, most artists start out that way. We are obsessed with copying it the way it is and that’s ok. It is a process and we develop and grow as artists. Further along in our art endeavor we might ask ourselves ‘what am I trying to say’, ‘why do I paint this scene’ and ‘what would my message be’?
I continue to go through phases like that. Sometimes a painting I paint looks overly realistic to me and then I don’t really like it. Sometimes it has a painterly quality or feel to it and still looks real (but only if you step back) and I like that best!
Check out this image I found of Wyeth painting on top of his jeep. Super cool! I love how the watercolors drip down the hood and of course the puppy patiently waiting in the car! My dog would try to climb onto my lap making painting impossible!
‘Moods of Belfast’, watercolor painting by frank eber
‘Lifting fog’, watercolor painting by frank eber
The class hard at work!
Nice painting spot!
An Andrew Wyeth!
I was very fortunate to teach a workshop in Belfast, ME with Coastal Maine last week. Having been busy with workshops in Wisconsin and Norway lately, I was not thrilled on boarding another long distance flight but when I got there I immediately forgot about it and couldn’t wait to start painting!
Belfast is a seaside town about two hours northeast of Portland. It boasts a busy downtown area with some great restaurants, sparkling bays with iconic lighthouses and a great harbor to paint. Maine is not named “Vacationland” for nothing! Even while teaching I felt like I am on permanent vacation! People are friendly but not overly so (which I like!) and everything seems slower paced. Nobody’s rushing…
Places to see are Belfast, Camden and Rockland. I am sure there’s a lot more but that’s all I had time to see. It will just take another trip!
One of the highlights for me was to see the Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland. The museum offers an opportunity to enjoy a comprehensive collection of American art related to Maine and above all, a big collection of works by the late Andrew Wyeth! I really like his art so I couldn’t wait to go! The Wyeth Center houses a collection related to three generations of Wyeths in Maine: N.C, Andrew and Jamie. The entrance fee is waived on Wednesdays!
Just back from a workshop and demo gig at the headquarters of this great company!
DS make high quality pigments and were the first to develop Quinacridones, now copied by just about every pigment manufacturer out there. They were also the first to come up with the dot card idea. It was only a small step to develop dot cards for individual artists as we see them today. Dot cards are being copied now as well.
I am happy to say I was the first artist who had his own dot card back in 2011. Since every artists palette changes over time, I have a brand new card now with about five or six new colors.
I make the card available to workshop participants only as it doesn’t make much logistic sense to send it out. I don’t want to charge for it and I don’t want to incur shipping charges either. If you’re curious about DS colors in general, they sell a dot card with a good color selection for five bucks here: http://www.danielsmith.com/Item–i-001-900-501-LIST
I am very grateful to be a featured DS artist and my heartfelt thanks goes to Katherine and John, as well as Joe, Thom and everyone else at the store who took care of me last weekend!
I am super happy to announce that I was invited to teach a two day workshop at the Daniel Smith store in Seattle, Washington! Dates are August 22-23, 2015. Free painting demo on Friday, August 21!
Not only that, I will also get a factory tour and finally meet the person who is behind all this and has supported me over the years!
Please follow this link for all the details: http://seattledanielsmithevents.blogspot.com/