Sunday, July 16, 2017

Same stuff, different looks

Haven't been doing much painting and drawing lately, busy with the papermaking, but I often notice interesting effects to store in memory.

Here's one from today:  the Adirondack chair, with sunflower type flowers growing around it.  Cloudy, little contrast. The colors show up well, the shapes not so much.  I cropped the picture to make a composition, not just a shot of something. If you painted this, chances are you'd have a fairly dull painting, full of mid range tones, little contrast.

And here's the same scene, later, sun out, very high contrast.  Cropped a bit differently, to accommodate the shadow patterns.

For a painter this is probably the more interesting scene, since the shadows create another composition right on top of the scene itself.  And they create negative shapes on their background. You would paint the shapes of the shadows as they fall, not worrying about whether they fit inside the objects or not. They are their own composition.   And you'd have lightest, darkest, and mid range all in the composition, interestingly.  You would edit this as you go, since too many shapes and contrasts look chaotic rather than interesting.

You do know how to paint shadows, yes?  you make shadow, in most media, by mixing the color of the item not in shadow with a bit of the color opposite it on the spectrum. This gives you the shade effect without deadening the area with gray or black.  So a yellow flower needs a touch of purple to give its shadow. And green leaves  use red in their shadows.  Seems counterintuitive till you try it out.

I was just thinking about how often people ask me what's the destination of a given art project, and what an item will look like when it's finished.  But that's not part of creating it.  That comes later.  First you work on it, just see what happens.  And not worry about knowing the final appearance.

I have to give major props for this to dogonart, who used to be nice enough to work with me a bit when I was a little kid, making stuff and amusing me, probably because I was so sick so often, I needed some amusement!  She was a good bit older, so I considered her an adult, and took careful note of what she said. 

One time she found a couple of matchboxes, and some beads, and then announced that she had no idea what we were going to make, let's just start!  Exactly the right note.

And I remember we ended up making a little chest of drawers of the tiny stacked matchboxes, and somehow or other attaching the beads as drawer pulls.  But, no doubt she forgot this years ago, I never ever did.  I was about maybe five doing this, maybe a bit older.

It's prime concept for an artist, not to worry about knowing what you're going to do, otherwise perhaps it will never happen.  You can't plan and execute all your art, just have to let the materials work with you until you see some sort of pathway. You often don't know what you're making until the making is under way.

This is about fine art, rather than about portraiture or building renderings, though, where your subject is right there and likely commissioned.  I never accept commissions, because I can't tolerate knowing what the outcome is supposed to be! but that's me.


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