Painting an Effect Instead of a Scene
Saturday was the first class of a new painting. It is a totally different process from the previous painting as this painting is very simple and low on details. This makes it hard to lose focus on the overall painting because you are in the process of working the whole painting at once and all the processes support the overall effect. The previous waterfall painting was all about detail and technique and it was easy to get lost in the details-teach a technique and an idea of how to quickly render an area and let the student take over the process.
This painting, because of its lack of detail and the subtlety of its effect demands light overlays of color, not a whole lot of paint piling up and an intricate weaving of light and hue to capture the focus of light, movement and hue. The main point of painting water is that you are not painting water-you are painting the sky, the landscape or anything that interacts with the water but the water because of its colorless characteristics can not be captured only by the movement and color of objects reacting with it.
Another problem with painting water and a simple image of a leaf on water is how do you explain the fact that their is water and that the leaf is not just plastered on a wall flat like it is envisioned. The image needs visual cues to explain to the viewer what they are seeing, visual cues that are assumed and felt because of the fact that we know by watching water that the leaf is on water and we hear the water and know that the leaf is on water. In a painting there are no sensual cues to explain there is water so unless you can explain to the viewer how the leaf rests on water and that there is depth before and behind the leaf the image is a flat leaf on a two dimensional plain.
We have to notice changes in detail, contrast and color, without the changes the eye has no concept of what it is seeing and the photograph from which the rendering came from has successfully captured a three dimensional image and rendered it as a flat, evenly contrasting image. As artists we need to exaggerate certain aspects of the image and clarify what the viewer is seeing.
So how hard is this to teach? For me it is even more like trying to explain the color you see on a regular basis to someone who has never seen color but even harder than that is without certain words like warm or cold. I would move paint around as I was constructing the original painting and as it worked or didn’t work I would adjust and refine my rendering of the painting depending on the process. In teaching you have to reach and move paint without being able to rely on the idea that this is an experiment, there needs to be clarity with a student and you need to show the way when your way at times seems somewhat cryptic.
We moved paint around the leaf and continued to refine the image-If I say refine to her one more time she’s going to shoot me, but just as in the other more detailed painting the process begins with refining where light is, where the leaf falls in your plane of vision and how the contrast and color changes throughout the painting. As the textures and the colors form and push each other into the position on the plane the image will create itself almost like a puzzle that becomes only with the relation to its parts and how each appear. So just like not painting water, we are painting the way the sky looks and how the leaf looks and in the end we will have how the water was affected by the leaf and the sky.
I will continue to comment on the steps to getting there and have a final video of the class in the end when the final puzzle creates itself. Thanks for reading and stay tuned.