Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hows and wise

Well. Here I am on a new,new computer. The last new computer developed a keyboard problem. I took it back to best buy and they no longer had that unit, so I now have a different brand. I guess its OK, either way it will take all night to download all of my files onto it from That will make it the second time Carbonite has saved the day. I got my 50 dollars worth there!
I however do not have photoshop reloaded so I wont play those games tonight. That's alright because although I will soon return to the crits, I got several questions in the comments that I will answer. I was asked
I like the start to this painting. Could you talk a little about your approach to this type of subject matter? Lots of foliage is a difficult thing to simplify sensibly. Are you doing a dark mass and then painting leafs, stems and flowers into that?

I should be so orderly! But yes that's almost what I do. I paint the shadow note that is colored and then throw my leaves onto that, then I paint the dark accents and violets into my shadows. I don't use many highlights outside but if I did I would then paint them in onto the lights. That's four values. The shadow note I mixed up in a pile and I made a pile of leaf color. The leaf color pile I subdivided and made about four separate piles , a warmer less green one, a yellower one , etc.
I threw the leaves and foliage onto the shadow note and then mixed other green notes using different pigments and used those for particular clumps of foliage. None of this went into the trees in the background. They are a wholly different set of colors and they are in the shadow and an upright plane so they are;


That is, no color from the flowers in the light was allowed up there. I mixed new colors for up there, also in premixed piles. All these piles of color are mixed with a leaf shaped knife. I try to use a different set of pigments in the shadows than the lights, WHEN I CAN in practice it is only possible to do it somewhat, but just leaning that way makes a difference. That is one of the reasons why I don't use a three color palette.

I premixed huge piles of color, often an amount equivalent to most of a small tube of paint. I use a lot of paint and on this painting I wanted to get a nice surface with big fat juicy brushstrokes, big piles of paint and little medium help me get that. They also enable me to work really fast. I don't always premix color, but in this instance it made sense.

I worked out all of the foliage without putting in a single flower! Well actually I put in a few of the larger clumps of flowers transparently as placeholders and to help me stake out the different parts of the picture. But I waited until I had the whole plant structure of the garden in and then I dropped in the flowers. I arranged them some, but not so much as to waste that structure below I had worked to achieve, I think in garden painting that structure needs to make sense under the flowers. I mixed piles of the flower colors too. I have quinacridone, ( spell check suggests gangrene here.) cobalt violet and cobalt blue and cadmium red and used them all to make the flowers. Here is a link so you can read about my usual palette.

I was also asked;

.. would you be able to expand a bit more on how you used photoshop to make these changes? Questions (1)how did you turn up the light to glare level.. I usually use levels.... is there something better to use? (2) Strong pattern on the ground and the furniture.... is this a custom brush that you used?? (3) Scattering little pixels and accents... custom brushes again???

I did all of the alterations on that piece with one stupid little brush in Photshop express that's the smaller cheaper version. My wife does graphic design and has the pro version. But for the simple things I do, Photoshop express is enough. I am using my experience as a landscape painter and not any Photoshop skill at all. Industrial light and magic won't be ringing my doorbell any time soon.

I turned the light up to glare level by consolidating the shadows and darkening them. I then used a much higher value and painted in the lights. There are no custom brushes, just the one simple little brush over in the toolbox, I did however vary the size of the mark and its opacity. Neanderthal! I get a bunch of CG guys who are into sophisticated computer painting who must be laughing at me, but it is enough to make my points, and the fact that it looks like I am correcting in gummy worms makes it easy to see what I have done as opposed to what the original painting looks like.

The last thing I am going to do here is post a few more of the facebook throwaway lines. I put up a notice on Facebook and twitter after I publish this post , and I add to it a line that claims some absurd content is in the post. here are a few more

A million monkeys randomly typing for eternity, have produced my blog tonight on Provincetown and a Hensche demo.

Post analyzing a painting I made in Maine. I have seen the first archeopteryx of the new millennium!

I have a new post entitled asjjfrkmokfjgpydipudatrefajarq! (spellcheck flagged that too, but had no suggestions) check it out.

See my latest post, like yesterdays, it's about getting light in your paintings. I have new shoes!

Post on experiences with a limited palette, Zorn, light, and wooden hats for painting in lightning storms.

Beginning posts on light in a sunny day painting. also the proper way to hold your mouth while painting.

More great Carlson paintings, and an improved method of turning a cockatoo inside out with a crochet hook.

10 greatest American painters. and a plan to connect all Chinese restaurants with underground tunnels to a single underground kitchen

Here is the link again for the workshop in Jaffery, New Hampshire in September.


Simone said...

Stape, thanks for addressing my question. That should me do a better job of organizing an approach to lots of foliage. I waffle back and forth between starting with the accents and starting with the shadow.

I appreciate your comments about limited palette, too. I am getting away from a 3 color palette after a good year and a half. I committed to it after attending a Scott Christensen workshop. It helped me learn to paint relationships but it is, well, limited. Too much so. I have also decided to ditch the use of tube grays. I don't find them to be the big time saver that a lot of artists claim they are. Thanks again!

willek said...

That is one of the better garden pictures I have ever seen. That was a very good description of the process. For the last year I have been premixing a ton of paint after my initial drawing/wipe away. I like doing that as I can do a long stretch of painting without being interrupted. but is disconcerting to see, when well into a picture, how much of my pre-mix I am not using!!! I hear Some painters saved their old paint and used it in the underpaint for texture and to grey out their canvases.

Stionsu= A stanchion, the vertical that holds lifelines, on a submarine.

Nancy Medina said...

Such good advice as always, but the comedy at the end is the best. I've been on Facebook for four days and already have a list of Things I Wish I Hadn't Said on Facebook. Glad to hear Carbonite saved you, am a subscriber who has not had to test it yet...*knock wood*

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, I bought his book. I like his work. I do see many painters who are imitating him. It always shows. I guess all teachers have that. perhaps I have imitators and don't even recognize them as their work looks ,well..............normal.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Welcome back.I can't believe you spend your summer vacation as a volunteer militia member in Nigeria, do you do that through your church?
It is often good to save that old paint. Wrap it up in saran wrap. But watch out,if it has begun to dry and become gritty, discard it.
stionsu= health drink made with soy and strontium 90

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.
I have said any number of regrettable and foolish things on the net. The trick is to say so much that they are lost in that enormous volume. I have painted many times in Texas.

Jeremy Elder said...

Thanks for the process on the garden picture How important form and underlying structure are in landscape and figure painting is really starting to sink in and become practical knowledge.

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

Your wife probably already told you this, but if not...
Use the brackets, the [ ] keys, to make the brushes bigger or smaller, great time saver, makes life easier. Softer brushes are nicer than "hard edged" brushes, you can vary it but why bother, I just go with the default brushes myself. And also, sometimes it helps to say Window>Arrange>New Window so that you can see a close up in one window and a distant view in another window (like backing up from a painting when you are painting, I mean really painting, not "virtual" painting as it were. Anyway, who am I to offer advice? I'm loving your blog, just want to let you know, and look forward to new entries, thanks so much!