Improve Color Harmony in Paintings by Studying Hiroshi Yoshida
Hiroshi Yoshida was a 20th-century Japanese artist who's skill as a woodblock printer was unmatched.
I base most of what I know of color off this artist's work.
Notice in this group of prints that each one has a distinctive color set. Each image has its own dominant hue, in total harmony, with excellent design and atmosphere.
Also notice that there isn't a soft edge to be found.
All the "edgeless" brushwork in the world won't turn a poorly designed, color discordant mess into a work of art...ain't gonna happen.
Learn the tools to forget the tools!
Posted on Nov 9, 2018
Adding Figures to Plein Air Paintings
Once in a while I run into people who are Plein Air Purists who insist that if the object was not in front of you the entire time you're painting, then it's not a Plein Air painting.
Dogs, horses, cows, vehicles, people, even clouds move away while you're painting.
Does that mean we're not supposed to paint them?
Hell, even the light changes (so technically the scene has changed). . . better pack up that painting!. . . LOL
Maybe I am just getting old, but it’s starting to “P” me off. Our job as artists is to make ART…not churn out door mats!
I am not going to curb my inspiration for any rules that over-achievers want to levy on the rest of us. You want to make 8 paintings in a day? Go ahead. . .I'm gonna do just one. . .one good painting. . .that’s all I want.
Painting is difficult. Plein air painting is more difficult.
We do need to rely on visual memory, but in case that fails, take a picture of those moving objects if you need it. . .
Just to have reference. . .I make sketches before I start.
And for the objects in motion I "Frankenstein" them together from parts of other objects that pass in and out of my scene.
I have come to realize that doing very fast sketches of moving objects is better than a photo in three ways:
1. I have to paint it anyway, so I am rationalizing the construction before I get to canvas.
2. I find that the camera freezes moving objects too much and I don’t feel the fluidness of them anymore.
3. Third, I have to draw it!. . .Draw it!. . . D-R-A-W I-T!
So, within in a few minutes I compile sketches, I look at photos (if I have them) and then I paint.
For this particular painting I set up on the sidewalk, blocked in the scene, and left a dark spot for riders who were not even there yet.
As I was blocking in, I had my sketch book under my arm and a sharp pencil on the palette.
They rode by and as they did, I set down my brush and just observed them. Staring at them with a long unbroken gaze.
And when I had fixed that into my memory, I sketched it down.
Some were wearing different colored clothing and I needed lighter colors, so I waited for that. . .
I even used clothing colors from people who were walking and not on bikes at all!
But I can tell you, none of these moving objects were in my line of sight for more than a few seconds.
That will never stop me from painting them in anyway.
Posted on Sept 16, 2018
No More Broken Palette Knives
After breaking palette knives, one after another, sometimes after only a week or day of use, I can finally endorse a palette knife.
I have been using a Liquitex Artist Materials "Free-Style" palette knife for about a full year. These knives are only a few dollars more than the inferior brands, and they appear to be
"I'm staying in the Amazon jungle for eight months" Rig."
All-aluminum construction and will survive many years of abuse. However it is NOT any lighter than the wooden boxes mentioned!
The "friction" canvas holder is adequately designed, but it does not always hold and is limited by its height to accommodate 11x14 canvases. (I have the first version. Newer versions may have more capability.)
The strength of this box is its potential for longevity. I own one and use it daily and it shows.
I scrape my paintings. I admit it, and I do so often. So did John Singer Sargent (a scraping fool!), but I guess that makes him a failed artist as well. The list of other scraping artists goes on and on.
Not just for starting over, scraping the surface of a painting is also a means of controlling texture in preparation of additional layers.
I met an artist on a recent plein air excursion who expressed surprise and disappointment that I had scraped a painting back that I was unhappy with so that I could start again fresh. As if I had committed a deep sin that wounded the soul and "Spirit of Plein Air". . .Yada Yada.
Posted on May 19, 2016
Choosing Value, Intensity, Color of Toned Canvas
Toned canvas was pretty much a mystery to me for a long time. Until I started thinking logically about it. Off and on for years, I toned my canvases with just about any color and value, sometimes multi-colors and values. But now that I have certain convictions about what a landscape needs, I find that:
Careful consideration for the undertone's VALUE and INTENSITY aids in efficient painting in the field.
Since I believe that a landscape painting without atmospheric perspective just isn't a landscape, I am always finding ways to promote it in my paintings.
Five devices for promoting atmospheric perspective:
Cool it. Grey it. De-emphasize detail. De-emphasize contrast. Lighten it.
Undertone Value and Contrast Control
It's "de-emphasize contrasts" that I pay a lot of attention to. In short, I control my foreground, middle ground and background contrasts from the very start. If my undertone is getting in the way of that, I'm not working efficiently.
I want to avoid having to go back into the painting to lower the contrasts in the background. The value of the undertone should work for us and not against us here.
The other aspect of the undertone is intensity or color saturation.
I build my paintings on relationships, so if my initial tone is too saturated, I have less control over it from the start.
It can inhibit my ability to judge subsequent masses as they are blocked in.
Too colorful an undertone, and I am always competing with it.
Too grey, and I can't seem to make the block-in colorful enough.
Finally, I think the undertone color (hue) is up to the artist. Whatever conveys your inspiration and sentiment the best.
Posted on April 30, 2016
West Baden Paint Out
The light behind the columns broke thru the trees and filtered past the structure. It was clear to me that this was about warms and cools, but to get that right balance with oil paint, sometimes it is better to paint thinly and take advantage of certain colors' transparency.
Once I had established the tone I wanted, I painted in a range of "less warm" colors until I finished with the cool accents.
The Apollo Spring structure marks the location of one of four natural mineral springs that drew people to the West Baden Springs Hotel for their perceived health benefits. The structure stands at one corner of the sunken garden adjacent to the historic hotel.
Posted on Feb 5, 2016
Landscape Painting and Atmospheric Perspective
This is a little painting I did close to where I live. I stopped to paint it noticing first the atmosphere as a result from the heat of the day.
It is my opinion, as well as some other artists, that atmosphere in a landscape painting is essential to express depth.
I like to tempt the viewer in by showing depth in my landscapes, like a hiker on a trail who sees the far off hills and mountains lured to adventure.
Posted on Dec 17, 2015
Traveling for Painting Inspiration
Lot Yachts, isn't really about yachts or lots. It's about the light.
My paintings will always be about light and shadow as well as the color of the sky and the air and how a place far from what you know as home can permeate your being.
Michigan is one such place for my wife Kim and myself. The water, sand and cool wind that blows off the lake with the music of the waves lapping against its shore.
Color is of course my biggest reason for painting and Michigan's cerulean sky, weathered barns, orange oat fields and sails out on the open water all make for great inspiration.
I hope you can join me for my show "Michigan Revisited" at Gallery Two.