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!
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!!