Friday, February 24, 2006
Helpful Hints for the Artist #4
FAS Instructor Hank McLaughlin has this advice on paying attention to values and edges when painting or drawing solid natural forms.
The age-old method to discern the basic lights, middle tones and darks of your model is to squint your eyes. This blurs out the non-essential details and allows you to see the large, overall forms without distraction. The mistaken ideas that we often assume can get in the way. For instance, the “whites” of the eyes and teeth are not pure white…especially in shadow. The lightest of surfaces will grade to almost complete black in shadow, sometimes, if there is little or no illumination. You will observe at times almost a pure white glare on blue water or a green leaf that replaces the local color in these areas. Don’t let what you “know” get in the way of what you actually see!
Again, squint your eyes…you will see just how soft, soft edges should be painted and how few details, if any, appear in shadow. Edges that appear to go back into the distance usually soften. Edges of heads and hair are further back than the near front of the face. Also the edges of convex shapes like applies, tree trunks and foliage masses when softened make these forms appear more solid. If you keenly observe and faithfully paint these “blurry”, softened edges, the few hard edges you judge necessary will mean something. Remember degree: some edges are slightly blurred and others are greatly softened. Intense observation will tell you the difference. The human eye can only focus on one small area at a time. This shortcoming is a gift to the artist. Allow yourself only a peripheral view of your subject’s surroundings. When observing the head for a portrait, focus only on the face (the center of interest). What you can see of the background, shoulders, clothing, etc., without looking directly at them, is all you want in the portrait. These areas will then support and not compete with the center of interest. The eye is attracted to high contrast and sharp edges and tends to ignore low contrast and soft, blurry edges. When you paint in this manner, your viewer cannot help looking initially at the focal point (center of interest). Then the eye will wander throughout your painting enjoying the “supporting players”. If all of your painting’s forms are hard edges, the effect is flat. Hard, sharp edges come forward and appear to be on the same plane. The eye, being initially attracted to them all, doesn’t find one center of interest and, as a result, loses interest. This applies to all subjects…not just portraits. These principles describe how the human eye receives the visual world. However, since we as painters strive to interpret nature and not necessarily copy it literally, our application of these principles varies with each artist.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
FAS Alum’s Painting on Exhibit
We just had word from FAS alumna Sherry Leach that her painting, Painting at the Denver Botanic Garden, has been accepted into a juried show. It will be on view at the Oil Painters of America 15th National Juried Exhibition, at the Dana Gallery in Missoula, Montana, from May 5 to June 13 2006.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
David Smith’s “Drawings in Space”
This year marks the centennial of the birth of David Smith, one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. In celebration, the Guggenheim Museum in New York has mounted a special exhibition of his work.
In the spiral interior of the Guggenheim Museum, designed by another twentieth century giant, Frank Lloyd Wright, Smith’s dark metal sculptures look, as the exhibition curator says, like “drawings in space”.
In addition to introducing visitors to some of Smith’s less familiar works, the exhibition traces his life path, including souvenirs from his early travels in Europe, where he encountered the work of contemporary artists like Picasso, Giacometti, and Julio Gonzalez. In his early work, Smith incorporated found objects; but later his work became more and more influenced by nature and organic forms. Living in upstate New York, with lots of open space, his work took on the monumental scale that we associate with his most familiar sculptures.
This exhibition enables us to see the elements of grace and delicacy that inform Smith’s best work, and to better understand his place in American Modernism.
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