Here’s a decluttering idea:
1. For this exercise, commit to 30 minutes and a palette of six mixable colours, warm to cool, avoiding black. (Hint: mixing Phthalo Green with Alizarin Crimson, or Ultramarine with Burnt Umber make fabulous darker darks.)
2. Prepare your support with a neutral imprimatura, preferably a warm grey, mixed from complementaries and without black. For the moment, avoid the instant excitement of a garish imprimatura. (Hint: a neutral imprimatura helps with judging values better than painting directly onto a white ground and provides a sophisticated base for optimal vibrations and warm and cool associations.)
3. Mix, in the same value, a complementary colour to your imprimatura. Set it aside in preparation for laying in luminous shadows. (Hint: a soft, dusty lilac or cool pink — check it on your imprimatura for a satisfactory vibration.)
4. In a darker neutral, map the shapes of your composition, resisting the urge to draw. Try not to overdo it. This will flatten the perspective for a moment, abstracting the subject — a good thing. (Hint: choose the largest and darkest area and lay in, without drawing, a second, semi-transparent imprimatura with a large scumbling brush. Include a subtle gradation from warm to cool, from left to right or right to left.)
5. Identify your lightest light and darkest dark and make a note of where you want them. Now, establish the middle values and cut into and around your large interesting patch, forcing it to recede. (Hint: this big patch could be a mountain, a stand of trees, a distant island, a wet strand, a stack of fruit, a dress in shadow or an inclement sky.)
6. Move around in temperature, transparency, brush size and complimentary, abutting areas. (Hint: a few savvy and luminous, lighter-than-you-think shadows observed and laid in can pull a flat abstract towards a magical and mysterious interpretation of something real.)
7. Is there an opportunity to pull the darker shapes together even further into larger designy zones? (Hint: be bold.)
8. When coming-to-light, amp up opacity but stay fluid between warms and cools. As with the darkest darks, can the lightest areas be connected, too, to strengthen design? Developing your intuition with weighting, balance and eye control is a lifelong pursuit. Remember the golden ratio, resist the urge to line things up and, as my Dad used to advise me, “try to paint one neat area.”
PS: “Leave your strokes alone.” (Robert Genn)
Esoterica: 9. Your last step, should you choose, is a glaze. Shake up a small amount of Phthalo Blue with equal parts water and gloss medium in a jar. Puddle it on your very dry painting in an area that could use a shadow or surface interest or drama. With a lint-free rag, wipe off the glaze, leaving only a trace amount tinting the area or clinging to the crannies of your scumbling. For an instant gradation, vary the pressure of your wiping as you move across the zone. Adhere to your compositional cut-ins for even further drama. When your glaze is dry, you can come-to-light again. You can glaze your coming-to-light in something warmer, too — Magenta, Cadmium Red or Indian Yellow. (Hint: the possibilities await, 30 minutes at a time, for the next 10,000 hours.)
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“I could not paint at all if I had to paint slowly. Every effect is so transient, it must be rapidly painted.” (Joaquín Sorolla)
We live in a fractured world. Wars, famine and power games are forcing people to abandon their homes and their way of life in hopes of finding peace. For lack of education or specialized skills, the poor are not accepted into our northern communities. They stay in the camps on the borders of turmoil, separated from local community. Animals are caught in the crossfire. Even the trees and the rocks suffer the agony of imbalance. This chaos is evident in my work. In between the rivulets of paint and the textural accidents I choose colours and forms to suggest a landscape where beauty continues to reign. We can still change the tide and build a new world harmony. Certainly, contemporary will focuses on gold instead of beauty. Yet, beauty is essential to the wellbeing of the planet. She is essential to the survival of humanity.