In this series my goal is to refine my eye and brain to get along to see color and not be taken by what my left side of my brain tells me. Recalling “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain” by Edwards, I remember that my left side, the logical side, tells me that all eggs are white, all crows are black. But the right side, the artistic side, tells me that the egg is multi colored, dependent on the shadows, reflected light, etc. And the crow can be blue black or even have golden highlights in its eye. Reconciling these thought patterns is always a stumbling block that sometimes succumbs even the most seasoned artist. This DIY workshop of mine has really helped drive that notion home.
This is the set up for the metal pan.
Today I painted a little metal pan. Boring to be sure and not my idea of a stimulating morning in the studio. But I persevered and made myself sit down and get out the paints. I think my biggest annoyance is using a palette knife to paint with. Mine are old, worn out and large. I keep seeing small patches of color and have a hard time placing the paint properly. Stern states the reason for a palette knife is to place sections of color next to each other and not blend paint. That way you can really see the different colors and learn from their relationships to each other. I was surprised how easy the metal was to paint. I wasn’t really worried about having a problem painting that but it was a snap to get it to look “real”. I also have found that my realistic impressionism style is being challenged to get put away for a while during my workshop.
This is the completed metal pan painting.
This blog is a report of the continuation of my workshop “How to See Color and Paint it” by Arthur Stern.
Set up and painting
2 colored cube
The next exercise involved painting another cube, white, but this one had a rectangle of black in the center of each face. The walls and floor of the set-up box changed color. Again, its designed to get the artist’s eye to see all the colors there, not just the ones that you think are there, like “white” or “black”. It reminded me of Kevin Mcpherson’s book “Fill Your Oil Paintings With Light and Color” when he talks about finding the spots of color in the landscape.
After that exercise, I hung up a white cloth with different color sheets of construction paper in the set-up box. The light source also moves around for each exercise. This one was the most challenging so far. I am not having a hard time finding the colors but finding patience to do the exercises.
Set up for white cloth painting
I keep saying to myself that I could be doing something else, something that has real value. Such as painting a subject that I love and could also possibly sell. I’m thinking that I am wasting not only time but money on the cheap paints I bought when I could have bought a lovely tube of some color that I have been coveting. Our brains really like to sabotage us when we are inserting change! Its really interesting.
Here is a continuation of my workshop “How to See Color and Paint it” by Arthur Stern.
TP roll and the colors I really saw (not counting the glare from the flash)
The next exercise was painting a roll of toilet paper. Very classy, ha ha ha. But it was to see that white is not always white. Of course I knew that but I am approaching this as a re-learning project and with an open mind. It only required Statement 1.
The next few exercises were painting colored cubes with changes of the color of paper on the walls and floor in the set-up box walls. They required Statement 1 only. I am trying not to get bored but at least the paintings went fairly fast, just a few hours each.
The set-up box painting
The first exercise in my workshop “How to See Color and Paint it” by Arthur Stern was using the set-up box, It was pretty simple. It just involved painting the set-up box with 3 different sheets of construction paper clipped in place. It wasn’t very exciting and I think because I am always looking at color when I paint it went really easy. I find that when I am driving around going somewhere I look at the colors of the landscape and name them in paint colors. An example would be when I look at the shadow of the snow along the roadside, I say, “Hey that is Ultramarine blue in that ditch. And the sunny snow has Cadmium Yellow Lemon along the top mixed with a touch of purple (hum that would be Ultramarine blue and Red Iron Oxide mixed together with a lot of Titanium white) right under that spot.” I hope the exercises get more challenging.
The next exercise in “How to See Color and Paint it” by Arthur Stern was to paint an orange. I had a Mandarin orange in the fridge so I set to it! I did Statement 1 for this painting. I think it accomplished what it was supposed to do, show me the planes of color in a simple manner.
Orange painting with the orange.
I have started a new self-improvement project. I am going through the exercises in a book recommended to me by Jill Soukup called “How to See Color and Paint it” by Arthur Stern.
I started by reading the whole book. Then I set about to get all the things I needed to go through the book and do the exercises. That involved buying paints and canvas paper, constructing a little set-up box, buying a few inexpensive supplies and making some shapes. I also had to dig around in my cabinets for things to go in the still life set-ups.
I look at it like attending a workshop, only the instructor is the book and there are not any other students. I am glad I can muster the discipline to follow through with projects like these. Of course I do like to take a break and get on a mule for an afternoon, too.
Me on Foley, its cold out but not too bad.
Each exercise involves painting a set up in the three-sided box. In each exercise you do either 1, 2 or 3 “statements” for each painting. Statement 1 is just flat planes of color in general. Statement 2 expands on that and adds a few more areas of color within Statement 1. Statement 3 involves finding many patches of color to paint. The paintings are exercises and not “masterpieces”. Use of a palette knife instead of brushes makes it a bit more challenging, especially since my palette knives have seen better days but I didn’t want to get new ones because I basically forgot to get them when I got the student grade oil paint. Palette knife use also is there to keep me from blending the colors. Which happens anyhow, some how I just am a bit messy with the edges of things.
The very first exercise I did in this book was to make a color chart. Its a lot like the color charts that Richard Schmid has in his book, Alla Prima. But no where as complex. So I was up for that!
Here is my color chart.
Below is one page from Schmid’s book:
Drinking in the Creek
Oil, 9″ x 12″
A couple years ago, I did a painting of my friend on his mule in Escalante Canyon, Colorado. The mule was drinking out of Escalante Creek. At the time I was going to paint over the painting but my friend saw it and purchased it, he wouldn’t let me say no. Finally I got it back and got rid of it. We were riding the other week and I snapped a new and improved photo of he and his mule. I then did a much better painting of them and will varnish and frame it and give it to him soon. Persistence paid off!
Oil, 18″ x 24″
Allen & I went to Zion National Park. It is stunning and amazing. Really, words can not describe its grandeur. I did some Plein Air paintings while Allen rode his bike through the park. Back home in the studio, I got out a big canvas and did the following painting, “Zion Sentinels”. It was a great trip and we hope to go back there soon.
Oil 9″ x 12″
I took a Plein Air workshop in St. George, Utah from Plein Air painter, Brad Holt. He was a great instructor, giving us lots of tips and advice. He also took us to a neat overlook to paint one day.
This painting, “Tall Juniper” was done during the workshop when we were inside on one of the afternoons.
Walker Cabin Watchtower
Oil, 10″ x 20″
I have been in the studio painting since the cloudy and cold weather has moved in during fall and winter. But before that I joined the Plein Air Artists of Colorado and went to Escalante Canyon for a paint out. The painting in this article is a result of that trip.
Here is a painting I did called “Walker Cabin Watchtower”. The study was done in Escalante Canyon between Delta and Grand Junction, Colorado. The landform was adjacent to an area where there were several small cabins cut into and out of the stones around 100 years ago. The hardy people who lived there had a great setting.
I attended the Plein Air Moab competition and sale in Moab, UT in September. It was a fun and well organized event.
Here is a painting that I did in the studio from a Plein Air study done in Arches National Park.
Oil 9″ x 12″