Category Archives: Techniques

(Part two) How to get a painting started – 3 great ways to be more effective in the studio


3 Great ways to get a painting started.

(A three part posting)

Part 2 – Establish a viewpoint.

A viewpoint is two things.  One: how the viewer sees the image; and Two: how the image portrays your concept.

How do people understand how to view your idea?  You can also have a point of view embedded into the image such as perspective, but that is not the viewpoint of this discussion.

Are you painting to show how well you paint, or to say something, or to respond to your life experiences and your accumulated opinions?  Or maybe you just like to paint stuff.  Some folks paint flowers, some dogs, some events of the world and some paint the fantasies of all our dreams.  Whatever you paint it has a viewpoint, even an abstraction has to be abstracted from something.

Every piece of artwork needs to establish a definite point of view, both visually and emotionally.  Ask yourself:  how will this image tell the story, is it close up, far away, from the side or below?  Where is the horizon, where is the vanishing point, the perspective, or is there one?  Will you use color or texture or special effects to tell the story? Are we in the picture with the subject or outside looking in?  What is the object of the painting?

Will the viewer gain or see a specific opinion, an anticipation, or disgust, or sympathy for the subject?  Does your subject need to push the viewer in a direction, as in taking a different look at something?  Or they may have overlooked something; perhaps your painting is just to show beauty.

How is the art piece going to set in the world?  Is it emotional, or shocking, or nostalgic?  Is it a visual perspective or an environmental foggy wet, or desert dry viewpoint?  A bug’s eye view or a bird’s eye view, or a leader or a follower?  Is it everybody’s view or a special peek?

There are so many variations on this, and you can use many viewpoints in one picture, but the core idea needs one main viewpoint to focus on.

By establishing a conceptual and/or visual viewpoint you can get control of, and use of so many variables.

Start by thinking how someone will first see the image, and then how the image is rendered both in style and in choice of media, and then how the elements in the image are portrayed.  That can include perspective or graphic, or abstract or brush stroke style, etc., etc.

Here are 3 elements to establish:

1 – Establish what is being communicated;

2 – Establish what is being seen;

3 – Establish how it is being portrayed.

These 3 points may seem very simple but they are most often overlooked.

Now you have established a viewpoint:  we are seeing this idea in this way, and you are ready to put a view point into perspective.

jmc/emc

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How to get a painting started – 3 great ways to be more effective in the studio (Part One)


3 Great ways to get a painting started.

Part 1-Name it first  (A three part posting)

Over the years I have found that most all artists have a bit of difficulty getting work started; this applies to both young artists just getting going and to more experienced artists who want to produce more but haven’t built the habit of getting into the studio on a regular basis.  I have observed people taking literally years to get themselves going.  Excuses abound but the reality is that most often there was never any experience or training for the artist to be productive or effective.  Most artists I know, outside of commercial or professional artists, have no real process or pattern for getting a work going; they just start and kind of work forward.

Because of my own experiences in the art field, I have had to formulate a way to get work moving forward, and nowadays when that isn’t happening it is from procrastination, not from lack of knowing how.

Here are three great pointers that I use without even thinking about it. It just comes by habit now. I realized the other day that this is a very sharable process and I should develop it for a posting.

What is the idea behind the picture?

Why is this interesting; does the image carry an idea or concept?

Don’t paint it and then name it – name it and then paint it.

Most artists don’t want to specify what they are about to render, feeling it is restrictive.  I contend the real reason is because to name it is to be disappointed if it doesn’t match one’s own self promise.

If you don’t know what your painting will represent before you begin then it is an accidental painting.  Nothing wrong with that, but you can be assured that even though you possess great skills in rendering and can always “pull it off,” it may be an image of great visual attraction, (a success in and of its’ self), but it will have to have a second accident to be a success as a conceptual work of art having any real depth.

Perhaps that is not important while painting still life or landscape representational paintings, but it is the most important thing in painting “story” images.  Those that carry concept or emotion, or any social response, commentary or even chairacture, and cartooning.

Keeping in mind that most successful still life paintings do tell a story, (same with landscapes), and those are well planned out in the beginning.

All images are viewed alone; the artist is not there to explain, and if they had to, the painting is not successful.

If the picture becomes incidental, the viewer will respond in an incidental manner as well.  The smallest concept is paint-worthy and can carry meaning.  It doesn’t have to be earthshaking.

Example: An ice cream cone makes a great painted image, conjuring up taste and memories across a lifetime, yet is a simple image.  When thought of as a warm day and melting, (TITLE: THINK SLOW AND EAT FAST); as a birthday treat (TITLE: ALL MY FRIENDS LOVE ME!), ice cream on a date (TITLE: TWO SPOONING).  Can’t you see the idea by the name alone, and once rendered in your own style it becomes personal.

When you name the idea before you name the painting, then paint the image to match your idea, you can more easily modify the name of the painting after it is done and it will match what you rendered.  This brings your whole talent to the painting, you are free to use your skills to render rather than discover, and use your mind to discover while you render.  Because you have a direction to go, it is not an accidental painting.  Naming the idea first is one good way to start a painting.

I will post part two in two days!

jmc/emc

It’s in the Cards


One of my favorite tools in the studio is old credit cards.

I prepare them by sanding one edge with 400 grit wet or dry sandpaper. ( you can use an emery board or fingernail file too). I sand them wet to keep any heat created by friction on the abrasive sanding paper from deforming the plastic. This smooths them and removes small burrs and irregularities along the working edge left over from their previous life. They have small nicks and rough spots, as well a some that I create using them. You can have a small bowl of water to set them in during a work session. This keeps them both clean and ready to touch up with the sanding paper.

I  use them as glue spreaders, or to lay down a smooth layer of gesso.

I use them to squeegee out a water-soaked paper.

Lay down oil paint background into a fresh canvas.

Clean off a palette knife.

Paint shield for straight edges.

Technique tips


Perspective;  Using the drawing board for perspective.  Every one has one, and some people draw one in  their work. Not every rendering needs a perspective layout. I am speaking about the underlying lines that form a visual perspective, not a conceptual one.

In this tip:

On a large drawing board, place a horizontal line halfway up. Place two push pins about 4 feet apart on that line, one on the left edge, one on the right edge. Tie a 4 foot string on each one. This gives you two point perspective. When placing a drawing paper on the board, you can adjust it left, right, up or down to suit your perspective needs. After attaching (tape) a sheet of paper on, Use the string to establish all the necessary lines from the vanishing points to create your drawing viewpoint

I use a large drawing board for most of my layouts  that are to be seriously rendered. even small drawings. (My board is 5 feet wide and 40 inches tall). Often I begin with a simple sketch on a sheet of 8.5″x11″ copy paper.

I do a quick rough layout in perspective without any serious guidelines, Then guess at where my horizon should best be to suit my sketch, placing it on the board to match up the lines with my string. Now If I wish to change the size, or location or adjust the vanishing points, I can achieve all that by moving the sketch and trying out the strings until I have a satisfactory viewpoint. Once established, I can then add all the key lines to the drawing with the strings.