Freedom_to roam_roadtrip: Some lessons are better taught in real life. I hav…: Some lessons are better taught in real life. I have always lectured my son on every aspect of dealing with crisis, my biggest rule which cam…
Some lessons are better taught in real life. I have always lectured my son on every aspect of dealing with crisis, my biggest rule which came from learning to scuba dive is never to panic. Once you panic you lose all logic and one small mistake becomes many larger blunders.
A wonderful day on the road, we ended up later in the afternoon than we planned at the bottom of the lower falls in Yosemite National Park, our only disappointment was not being able to walk the six hour round trip hike to the upper falls. We had just sat and watched a herd of mule deer start their spring ritual of courtship. Both of us had that feeling like it doesn’t get much better than this. After aborting the idea of the six hour hike we climbed the rocks at the lower falls-I stressed myself concerned about him falling off the rocks and once he disappeared behind the rocks he could tell I was not happy and starting to feel that uncomfortable distance between us.
It was time to get on the road, we were driving to an amazing place in Inyo National Forest-a cabin, the high sierras in the back yard, privacy and a new place to hike and maybe even fish. We started out just about dusk, again, it was later than I would have preferred to leave. My son is great at navigation and with his new Iphone he really took over the task. I had forgotten to tell him that the eastern pass was closed for the season-my first mistake. We began driving and noticed some of the terrain was familiar-not the direction we were supposed to be going so after fifteen minutes of navigating through the winding mountain roads it was time to turn around. More time had passed and now I was getting increasingly uncomfortable as the light was getting dim.
I was driving over hills and around caverns and realized that we were getting higher into the mountains. I was not comfortable as with the altitude the presence of snow and ice was increasing. I was sure some ranger had forgotten to close the gate for the season and was at that very time closing us off in the treacherous mountain pass without chains. I had visions of us spending our vacation stuck in some remote road hoping some one would find us. The more snow I saw the more uncomfortable it was getting and the quieter him and I became. There is a silence that suddenly grows between you and you can feel the tension growing as the light dims and the roads get icier.
One problem with being out in the middle of the mountains was a lack of service so as we were navigating with his phone we were getting to realize we had no idea where we were or where we were headed as the signs got less common as we continued deeper into the mountain range. We were both starting to snap at each other as our fatigue grew and the tension increased to a fever pitch. After driving for the last thirty minutes we had decided by looking at a map we could barely read we were heading the wrong way. It was actually a Godsent as if we had ended up in the right direction we would have been heading for the pass that was closed.
Suddenly to bring all of the tension and the confusion to a final pinnacle, enter two deer. Both deer came out of nowhere and in slow motion-I veered to the left and they veered to the right. It was one of those rare moments when man and mother nature enjoyed mutual cooperation. I think I was much more in panic than the deer and I felt that having avoided a major hazard that could have changed our whole vacation it was time to stop and regroup.
I slowed down, instead of going back the other way, we decided to keep going to the nearest town and after hopefully getting some service and finding the charger for his now almost dead phone we would eat and regroup. In an instance, I was doing as I had always preached, instead of reacting and continuing to get more and more tense, we slowed down and methodically made good decisions that would make a bad situation better. We ate really good pizza in a small restraunt, had coffee for the long night ahead and got a grasp on the situation. Because of the closed passes we would have to drive six hours to get to where we needed to go, around a mountain range and through a state forest.
I made the best decision I could make for the situation-find the nearest hotel, relax, eat and get a good night sleep. So I paid for a cabin six hours away and one of the more expensive hotels but it was so worth it. We ended up experiencing a wonderful night sleep in a circa 1800 gold rush hotel, having a wonderful breakfast and living to drive another day. Several things we learned-in a trip through the mountains don’t take passes for granted-they close during the winter months. Be flexible and have a secondary plan, If your going to nearly hit deer make sure they are cooperative deer that don’t panic and the biggest rule of all is don’t panic.
It’s all in the details you don’t see-those are the details that make an effective painting
We had a second class for the the next painting and the flow was quick and really enjoyable.
Our first process was to create zones out of the image-several areas of the painting were envisioned
as geometric shapes that were created and approached as separate colors and textures. The painting as I mentioned in the last post is a painting of a single leaf on water. There is not much as far as details to create, in the previous painting we could capture a region of the painting with detail and connect the areas of detail, in this painting the simplicity and subtlety of the image forces you to keep the transparency fresh and light and to capture the effect by the layers of each area we create.
The first task was to create a layer of soft blue sky which was not like the blue green of the water. Next was to put a dark line to denote where the bubbles of water were, this area created a definite division of value and contrast and allowed the viewer to see the sky above as a distance. The lack of detail forces you to exaggerate comparison of detail so the viewers’ eyes have enough cue to know how far they are seeing into the painting.
Once we created the area of turbulence we blurred it into an area where the water turned more green and definite blue green lines created the movement, this again separated the turbulent area near the leaf from the depth of the water beneath it. This was the third zone and the layer to the left of the leaf was another area of bubbling water which interacted with the leaf.
The two areas that we are leaving alone are the leaf and the light above it- this last area of the painting will contrast strongly to the water around it and the light will glow because of the difference between it and what surrounds it. Again we are not painting the actual image, we are painting what reflects around the image and how the light reacts and the colors and contrast are affected by the comparison to the light and the leaf. After we are done with what the leaf is reflecting on and with we will further perfect the leaf and the light and either ratchet up the contrast or tone it down.
In the end complementary highlights will be weaved throughout the final image to lead the eye through the image and create the flow that make the leaf look like it’s floating. The idea of this post is how detail can be seen where there is no detail and created out of the lack of detail. The changes must be in hue, texture and contrast which creates the depth and interest a painting like this might lack because of it’s lack of detail. Next post will be about the subtlety of transparency and allowing the canvas to show through.
Another technique we did this time was smoothing of the paint with a paper towel instead of a brush, it softens up the image and allows the viewer not to be able to discern the difference as colors change. Another plus is the fact that the transparency is achieved by putting paint down and lifting most of it up-the canvas shows through and mimics the feeling of soft intangible light, something easily lost with using white which makes a more pasty feel.
|This photograph is from Wallcoo.net and is a free wallpaper|
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.
Places to Paint and the Places Painted from
I try not to be too abstract about art and the intricacies of inspiration and creativity but there are many intangibles that are hard to explain. I am a landscape painter-I paint places but the place from which I paint tends to be varied depending on mood and circumstance. The word place could better be described as tense as in writing or maybe even atmosphere. I paint from states of being either extremely happy and feeling content or being somewhat dark and pensive. There definitely seems to be a need for extreme of mood when I paint because I rarely intend on painting a pretty landscape I more want the viewer to feel
cold or lonely, or the excitement of light and vibrancy of color so the landscape becomes a secondary backdrop to a state of being.
The most uncanny of this is in the past having painted a landscape which for all purposes was a simple landscape but having music in the background while painting caused the painting to have a somewhat dark uncomfortable feeling-the music in the background was Hunters and Collectors-Scream and it touched on a darker more uncomfortable place in my mind and that’s what came out through the painting.
I am impressed with mystery and darkness. I think depression probably has also lent itself to the darkness in my paintings-I just sometimes don’t feel comfortable in my own skin and I often think that comes out in the painting. I want the viewer to walk down a road in the evening and feel that tension of fear but the enjoyment at the same time of that fear and uneasiness and that is probably why people like haunted houses-the fear takes them safely out of their comfort zone.
My writing is actually more dark and tends to be more of an open door for the uneasiness because it is unattached to a specific image which at times might be completely contradictory to the scope and ideas I convey. I like a landscape that you can enjoy the beauty and natural feeling while at the same time feeling that there was a bit of tension and you don’t feel completely comfortable being there. I think one painter that has captured the idea that I express is Edward Hopper-his paintings are about dark places in city streets or in bars and there is a tension I just love.
I’ve included a pastel that is probably a bit more over the top than intended as far as the mood but the name is Halloween. It’s a perfect example-a wonderful family time out with the community and yet the underlying idea that there are goblins in the trees and ghosts abound. I’ve always loved that feeling and that’s what I tend to paint.
The second pastel is of blackbirds which is a recurring theme in my writing. The last image is of sunflowers-I thought it was a bit alarming of that one light in the evening on a silent house-begs the question who is staring out the window?