Friday, April 16, 2010

Synthetic lemur meat a hit with kids, and dad likes it too!

© The Estate of Edward Seago, courtesy of Portland Gallery

OK, I am really writing more about getting breadth in your paintings.

Here is a painting that was painted broadly by our hero Edward Seago. I will point out some of the moves he has made here. Bullets please.
  • This was done on a pretextured canvas, allowing dragged strokes which tends to give soft edges. Here are some notes from the archives on his materials and textured panels
  • Because of his limited, but mostly earth color palette the painting tends to unify more easily. This gives an advantage in color harmony.
  • The foreground and fields edge on the left was painted with a knife. That automatically installs some breadth. It is harder to niggel with a knife.
  • The extremities of that big tree are just dragged brushstrokes, the drawing of the trunk and branches carries the lack of detail there.
  • The whole foreground is basically one value with changes in color and temperature giving variety to the different elements.
  • The simplified shapes of the houses are so minimal that we fill in all the detail. A lot of the houses are drawn by their contrast with the background and a shadow or two.
  • The sky is kept close in value also. Again this is a type of simplification that allows broad handling. Breadth arises from simplification.
  • The edges of the masses are characterized and the viewer is left to fill in the middle details. You can accomplish a lot by studying the meetings of the masses. See the dark treeline above the houses? There's an example of that.
  • All of the above are to arrive at simplification. Simplification could almost be a synonym for breadth.
  • Lots of little dots and blobs allow the viewer to invent the detail.
  • As Richard Schmid famously noted, "loose is how a painting looks, not how it was done".
Try to "go up" one level. What I mean by that is, don't paint twigs, paint masses of twigs, don't paint leaves, paint sprays of branches. Don't paint windows, paint whole walls and hint at windows in a slightly different value, subordinating them to the larger form. Subordinate the detail within your masses to the larger form. That helps to make fewer, larger shapes instead of many little ones.

Imagine that you are working with pixels the size of walnuts. How many walnuts would take to cover the surface of your canvas? If you made marks that size alone you would have breadth, even if you had to throw in a few lines and jots to tell your story.



Unknown said...

Wow, this blog is like the secret decoder ring. You are unlocking the mysteries of painting, and it is all beginning to make sense!
I know its working because I hear voices in my head while painting.. They say things like:
simplify! Unity of effect! Everything is either in the light or in the shadow! Smuggle red!
Design, design, design....
The voices also say other things, like "time for a cookie" ... they're talking now...
gotta go..

Mary Bullock said...

Hey Deb - I think your voices just told me to go get a brownie! LOl!

billspaintingmn said...

Thank God for condiments!
All this information is like WD-40
to my brain.(ha)
Some of the frozen parts are finally starting to work again.
Today I will paint in this manner Stape. If it turns out I'll post it. If not, I'll have a lemur burger.(Do they look at you when you bite into them?)

R Yvonne Colclasure said...

Wow, this is beginning to be a LOT of FUN!! I can hardly wait to get to the paints and give it a try. Do you have a good guess as to what palette Seago used on this painting? I imagine for you it isn't a guess. That's why you are my HERO.

jade said...

first: that painting is brilliant.

second: what kind of trees have black leaves?

third: that painting is brilliant.

Unknown said...

Yay, more Seago! Could you explain bullet #8 in a little more detail? I don't understand what you mean by characterized edges.

Your comment about large masses is something I continue to deal with. It seems I can always simplify more than I am.

Karla said...

o.k. I stumbled on this site and I feel like I have hit a gold mine! But here is my question. What are the qualifications for participants in your classes?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I may have to have you write a summary for me.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Go get em!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Turn em around before you bite.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you! Seagos palette is posted at the links I included. but I have written about that several times.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The black leaves are acceptable to me.I hate green.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will do that!

Stapleton Kearns said...

They need a sense of humor and the price of admission.