Why is it that no matter what we do (tennis, paint, draw, pottery)
it takes a professional to remind us that
when we get stuck, the best course of action is to
return to the basics, those key pillars we
learned waaaaay back when we were
I had one of those "I've heard this before" moments when I spent 3 days in an Andy Braitman workshop this past month. I love his work, his teaching style and what he is able to coax out of my
"stuck" brain. And while we had been told to come prepared to paint clouds, in true Andy-fashion he changed up the entire syllabus (as such) while driving in.
Where did we start? With tonal paintings, like notans in a sketch book only larger. We spent a great deal of time discussing eye moment, the golden mean and all the old standbys but Andy added his special elements including a spiral inward, a progressing formation of rectangles proportionate to each other....and so much more. But when paint came to the canvas we started with a basic 3 tone underpainting full of movement and texture. The thickness and texture is hard to see in this photo, I was clearly too enthralled to remember to document my progress (heck, I can't even decipher some of the notes I took, I was so filled with info and excitement.)
But here are 3 beginnings, three values each. The two pieces on the left and middle both started from the same photograph I had taken in for reference. See how they change depending on the preceding discussion. Note the shoreline on the right. Thats the one I will show finished (or almost) below.
White, mixed black and mixed grey. An underpainting which will serve as a roadmap for the next stages as well as a base of some texture which we pushed with rubber nibs, brushes, rollers....whatever floated our boat.
Then we chose 3 analogous colors (beside each other on the color wheel) and the complement to the middle color. I had a deep purple, a deep blue and a pthalo blue with a yellowy orange. We could also use a mixed black and a white. Then we got to mixing color....that part was incredibly fun. How many different colors could you get with your combo and how could you get at least three values of those colors. For the first time in a long time I really enjoyed playing with the mixing...I am pretty sure it was because being forced to limit the palate at the start reins in the overwhelming feel of it being too much to deal with.
Here's my finished marsh piece. Or at least finished while I decide what else it might need. Andy kept emphasizing that we needed to spend twice as much time looking and mixing more as applying paint. Thats an excellent rule of thumb for someone like me who tends to go just over the edge....ruining a painting quickly by acting in haste.
So the Back to Basics was a very sound lesson....and leave it to Andy to push us Beyond. I am having a great time working on my other starts. I can't wait to share them.