Monday, November 22, 2010

Delicacy in halftones

I was asked in the comments last night to comment on the handling of the halftones in this head by Anders Zorn.
I will do that briefly. I am a landscape painter, and although I was trained traditionally I am off of my ground here. I will do what I can.

The important thing to note is that the halftones are all subordinated to the larger field of the lights. amateur drawing exaggerates the halftones giving a dirty look to the lights. all of the halftones must be higher in key that anything in the shadows. ( I know I keep harping on this, but it is crucial).

The plane changes, i.e. the swellings and recessions of the forms ARE represented, but they are soft pedaled. Compared to the contrast between the light and the shadow they are minimal. The best word to describe halftones done well is delicacy. It s easy to overdo these transitions.

If you look at the forms about the eye and nose, the structures are clearly expressed, but they are done so in a quiet and non assertive way. They are part of the lights and they are subtle. The tendency of the tyro draftsman is to look at the halftones only in relation ton each other and to over represent them. The halftones should be compared to the entirety of the head rather than to one another.This subordination to the larger form is key to understanding the proper role of the halftones.

Even though sometimes the halftones conceal the delineation between the light and the shadow, in the head above, Zorn always shows that he knows where that transition takes place. The essential idea is that these transitions should always be "clean" Although in nature the transition may be mushy, in your drawing it is important that they always appear well understood. More tomorrow after some much needed sleep. I am traveling again. You who read this blog would be shocked if you knew the condition I am in when I write it sometimes . I post every day, no matter what that day has been like. Today is an example of functioning beyond the point of exhaustion.

I have a few spaces left in the three day workshop to be held in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be fun to meet those of you who read this blog from the low country. As usual the workshop is open to all levels of experience and will run from Saturday, December 11 until Monday the 13th. I will teach outside and will demonstrate in the morning and then run from easel to easel teaching for the afternoon. I can save you years of screwing around learning to paint outside.
Here is the link to sign up. Class size is limited to 10 and given the short notice on this one might be very small indeed. People are starting to sign up, so reserve your spot.


Steven Zapata said...

I really hate to have to say this, but sometimes Stape, just sometimes, you slip up and the rest of us what it means to be committed to what you do and go for it no matter what.

Disciplined enough his whole life to make it as a landscape painter and will even manage to make CONSISTENTLY insightful posts for his free blog every night no matter how tired. Sheesh.

Your endless benevolence is appreciated as always, sir, thank you again.

Unknown said...

Another painting hero of mine, Don Hatfield, says, " the forest before the trees, the dog before the fleas"
(good neck tattoo material) This little quote reminds me to go for the larger areas of shadow and light first, gradually working down to the smaller details, and those halftone areas.
On landscapes,I think these can be harder to see, and as a learning tool, I have used Photoshop's "poster edges" feature to break down an image into larger shapes of light and dark... so when I do go out in the field, I am better able to judge them - squinting is essential here.
Snow tonight in northern New Mexico!!

Øyvind Lauvdahl said...

I only want to echo Mr. Zapata, and thank the Mr. Stapleton for his inspiring level of dedication and inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments above. Stape, you inspire me to paint every day, even when I am cranky and tired. I appreciate every post!

Need to take another look at the halftones. I think that I am guilty of overdoing it.

Linda Tracey Brandon said...

I am probably repeating myself, but I just wanted to thank you again for this terrific blog. I look forward to reading it and I send all the artists I know to it. Your generosity, humor and knowledge are extraordinary. Actually, you are terrific.

I'd love to take a workshop with you one of these days. I just got back from a painting trip to Charleston. Watch out for them thar gators, I don't think they hibernate, do they?

Lucy said...

And thank you so much taking the time to talk about the halftones. I'm embarrassed to say I never knew where they were...

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.I have set a goal for myself to write the blog every day, sometimes very late and I am tired, but I do it every day.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I need to visit southern New Mexico. I bet it is beautiful.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Whats that thing in the first letter of your name? I don't have that on my keyboard! Thanks though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Overdoing halftones is the natural state of fallen man.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I am only terrific in print. In real life I am an egomaniacal boor.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think I will have to do a post on halftones.