Friday, March 29, 2013

Painting Class #1 with Anthony Whiting

     Looking for inspiration and motivation as well as instruction, I recently started a series of painting classes with Anthony Whiting, a noted Jacksonville artist. The class has been everything I had hoped it would be and is helping me get past a "stuck" feeling in my own work. Since I  never took high school or college  art classes, there are gaps in my knowledge, technique, and ability to create what I have inside. So, I started by attending two of Anthony Whiting's  beginning painting classes--fun and very helpful. Today, you see a color blending exercise from the first class and the completed homework assignment. Soon, I will post the work from the other beginning class I attended. Next week, I will transition into his intermediate class, six two-hour classes for students with some acrylic painting experience.

     The initial two-hour class covered a number of basics listed on a handout. Then, after a demonstration of what Anthony called a "painterly" way to transition from one color to another, we all tried the technique.

     The two color patches show the result of first mixing a range of tones on the palette from white and pale yellow, through greens, to pure blue, then transitioning from white to blue on a sample in choppy, patchy strokes. You can click on the photo to see detail more clearly. Anthony stressed avoiding a smooth blend--instead letting the strokes show. The result is a lively color transition, which achieves a "painterly" blending in the viewer's eyes. Titanium white, cadmium yellow medium, and ultramarine blue are the only tube colors used--all the greens are mixes of yellow, blue, and sometimes white.

     Given my usual smoother blends and more realistic style, this exercise encouraged me to take a looser, less perfectionistic approach, and I really liked learning it. Our homework was to paint a pear using similar choppy strokes, which was more difficult for me than anticipated--a great learning experience. I used the same two colors plus white for the pear, adding burnt sienna for the background and to make grey tones for the shadow and stem by mixing it with the ultramarine blue. You see the sketchbook page at the left and a close-up of the pear above.

     Even though stepping outside my comfort zone is uncomfortable, I always enjoy doing so in a stimulating learning experience. Anthony Whiting is an excellent teacher, effectively encouraging each of us to experiment and learn. This series of classes is exactly what I have been looking for.
Question of the day: Are you also drawn to learning experiences? Do you prefer to try something totally new or to refine your existing skills and talents?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Painting a Water Study--View of Goodby's Creek

     I explored Goodby's Creek, which is a few miles from our north Florida home, and took photos for landscape painting subjects a couple years ago. Recently, I pulled out one of the less dramatic views to paint because the ripples at the edge of the water intrigued me. This 8" x 10" study attempts to capture the feeling of that spot, of overall quietness with gentle, leftover movement in the water from some earlier disturbance.

     Although it is "just a study", not a fully realized painting, this creek view was challenging and required several revisions. I am pleased with the results, with the overall "feel" of the piece. I plan a few minor changes, but wanted to show you this nearly finished stage before coming into a time that will be too busy for any posting.

     For those of you interested in the technical details, the support is a canvas board. The acrylic paint palette included cerulean, cobalt blue, paynes grey, alizarin crimson, cad yellow light, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, buff, and titanium white. Wanting a cleaner look than the actual, quite wild creek bank vegetation, I left out a fair amount and gave the viewer some glimpses of the sky. The painting also increases the light/dark contrasts and highlights the stand of pampas grass and a few other elements. See the original reference photo below for comparison.

Question of the day: Are you inclined to reflect on the features in a scene which interest you and draw you in--or are you more inclined to simply enjoy natural beauty on a feeling level? Or--like me--sometimes one, sometimes the other?