Sunday, July 8, 2012
As many of you know, I teach an in-studio landscape painting class (as opposed to plein air) once a week at The School of Light and Color in Fair Oaks, CA. Students either bring their own projects (work from their own photo refs, studies, etc.) or they can use a photo from my stack.
I usually do a demo at the beginning of each class, and the rest of the time, they work at their easels and I go around giving advice and instruction. I have a pretty great bunch of students who keep the energy level up and keep me on my toes.
Many of the small paintings I post on Studio Notes are demos from this class, as with today's post. Often I assign homework and then I do my version of the homework as a demo, so that the students can see what I'm talking about, and what I wanted them to get out of the assignment. I never expect anyone to do it my way per se, but I try to explain why I make the decisions that I do. In that way, I hope to communicate to them the more foundational principles on which to build their own decision making processes, rather than just "this is how you paint a barn" type of lessons.
Going one step further, I asked my students to use this photo as a structural reference ONLY for the barn, and invent the environment that surrounds it. I mean... look at this picture! Who would want to paint this boring scene as is!? They were free to paint from imagination, or use other sources for additional reference.
This isn't easy to do if you've never worked this way before. It does take a lot of practice to feel comfortable enough to ignore what you see in the photo. Nonetheless, my students were troopers and came back with some creative solutions.
In my demo, I didn't do anything unusually tricky; making a conventional painting was tricky enough, given the nature of the assignment. I talked about ways to emphasize the "star"element (strong contrasts, edges, etc), making the lighting consistent (direction and temperature), keeping things simple (don't render everything!) among other things.
I used transparent white instead of titanium (just to shake things up) which behaves very differently and I had trouble making some areas lighter. I often paint dark to light in a given area but without a strong opaque white, this proved to be a losing battle. So I had to stop after about an hour.
Still, it's not too bad.
Posted by Terry at 9:20 PM