Monday, April 30, 2012

Plein air, idea 3

No picture again tonight. I am on a primitive borrowed computer and it won't agree to do that. Tonight's idea is to make haste, slowly.  One way to do that is to keep the paint transparent until you are as far into the painting as possible. That is.....stay out of your white.As long as you are working transparently you can shove your "start" around all you want. The instant you add white to the painting it is locked down. It is far harder to make an alteration. Building up too much paint early in the process makes things harder. It is easier to manipulate thinner paint layers.

When we are laying in a picture on a white canvas we are generally delineating the darks and leaving the white of the canvas behind for the lights in the earliest stages of the drawing. Mostly you start out by placing your shadows, they are what is usually darkest before you in nature. Keeping these shadows transparent often looks better than having them opaque. Your may load  lights with white, but it is usually good to keep your shadows thinly painted if you can.

Another way to more gradually "find" your painting on the canvas is to keep your picture "soft" in that transparent color. . Until you really know what is happening all over the canvas it is best to keep the painting fuzzy, like an underexposed  photo.  Opaque paint is far more likely to give you hard edges  Also, if you go too hard on your edges before you are really sure of your drawing, you will respect those lines out of relationship to their real accuracy. If you keep things fuzzy for a while you will be more likely to willingly correct a shape that is off. Both this and the transparent paint suggestion are alike. They are ways of withholding too much commitment earlier in the painting process. It is best to add commitment later rather than too soon. This will help you avoid careful finishing one part of a painting  and then discovering that passage is in the wrong place ever so slightly. If the passage is just ghosted in you will happily move it. If you have worked it up already you will be tempted to leave it wrong.

EVERYTHING IN A PAINTING NEEDS TO BE RIGHT.  ONE UNCOMFORTABLE PASSAGE RUINS THE WHOLE PAINTING. A PAINTING IS ONLY AS STRONG AS ITS WEAKEST LINK. IF A SINGLE PASSAGE IRRITATES THE VIEWER, HE WILL REJECT THE ENTIRE PAINTING.



An orderly and careful approach to a layin will save time correcting problems later. It is easier to not make the mistakes in the first place tan to correct two or three interlocking mistakes in a half finished painting later.

10 comments:

Clem Robins said...

great coaching here. thank you.

i have trouble getting the drawing readable in my transparent rub-in. i wonder if what this means is that i am looking to accomplish the wrong things at this stage, rather than it being a sign of my lack of ability to draw with transparent paint.

Barb Hillier said...

Great post! I think will will help me control that unruly white that wants to get into everything till the whole painting looks pasty. Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your knowledge again. I've enjoyed following your blog for years and appreciate your generosity.

Judy P. said...

I really try to avoid white as long as possible, but if I'm working on value changes, to approach the mid-tones I have to start including a little white. Then it does become problematic, because you do lose the transparency- I can't seem to get around this problem.

Barbara said...

It's true about the transparent shadows. I've noticed in finished paintings light reflecting off of built up dark paint. The transparently painted shadows are less reflective and distracting; they recede and look deep.

Cynthia Hillis McBride said...

Sure wish someone had passed on these particular gems five years ago when I first started plein air painting. It is absolutely critical to the success of the painting. Thanks for the reminder.

Philip Koch said...

Four star post, once again! I'm planning on stealing everything you wrote when I start teacing my Painting One class next fall.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks you all. Everybody seems so glad I am writing again. It is flattering. Philip, steal away, the more I give away the more I have!
...................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Clem; Can you be more specific about that problem?
...........Stape

Durinda Cheek, Fine Artist said...

Stape, I am so glad to see that you are back spewing advice for all us hungry art kittens. It is so easy to be wandering around totally lost in a scene without thinking about the structure of making a good painting. Thanks for sending us a guiding light! Welcome back!

oreokookie said...

Nice point about laying in transparent tones at first.....my clearest memory from art school was the prof. comin in the first day with his poloroid camera and takin a shot of everyones still- life set- up....then with everyone assembled he handed them out, then had everyuone pull the developer strip at once....he wanted us to think of our painting like that appearing photo, i.e. : all over, all at once!