Showing posts from December, 2016

Paint patches, not lines

Painting students often ask me how to loosen up edges in their work -how to get rid of the outline - and it's both easy and hard.  Easy, because they should simply avoid starting with a firm, decisive drawing to begin with, and hard because it requires that they look at the world in a whole different way.  
It's natural for all of us to stare closely at a scene to acquire as much information and detail as possible, but that won't make a loose painting; that's the way to a tight painting.  Instead of looking directly at a scene and seeing discreet, separate objects, I advise students to squint or unfocus their eyes, or look at a scene through peripheral vision in order to see the continuous masses of tone, the notes of colour, the general shapes and sizes of things, including negative spaces.  And all the while they should consciously avoid naming what they're looking at.  
As soon as I say to myself: "I'm painting the eye of the little statue," I'…

Getting to the essence of an idea

The series continues.  This Robe painting is probably the hardest one that I've done so far - if it's, in fact, done.

The figure has had multiple faces, partial faces and layered colours as I've struggled to achieve the idea that's in my head: light, movement, and ambiguity. I've come to the conclusion that features are easy, blurs are very hard!  And edges are everything.  I needed an overall softness to every aspect of this in order for it to feel comfortable in my eyes.  Hard edges froze the figure in place in a photographic way and consequently made the lack of features seem very wrong.  But, when I softened the edges, the facial blur seemed fine.

Next I could selectively sharpen a few places.  The crispness around the neckline, at the shoulder and in the hairline all served to give some substance to this unfocused image, as well as to move the eye in a path through the figure and up to the eye area.

Turning an image into its simplest parts - shapes of colou…