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My design generally tends towards creating visual tension with colors and stroke marks. However, I realised that the old masters were more keen on shape repetition. It take slightly longer to see the shape repetition but it is equally powerful. I am experimenting this.
To get some ideas, see Chardin and Poussin
Enjoy your Search of new Possibilities!!
Master painters are full of humour. A lot of time, something are placed logically wrong in the image and VISUALLY GOOD! If you remember this you can start challenging the endless possibilities in design composition.
I am sure you are going to enjoy your next Museum trip very much!!
When I compose in 3 tones black and white drawing, I normally do not translate them into color study. I will go directly into painting. The composition though can still hold its strength with tonal contrast, it sometimes does not give me the exciting color impulse I expect.
I studied Sorolla's works and the masterpieces reminded me about color study. I could see large basic color shapes in his works. He used these basic color shapes to provide both the tonal contrast and color impact. I learnt this concept many time BUT always too lazy to do it. Now I understand the great VALUE of doing this. I'm going to practice it.
There 3 major areas I will look at when I decide my color scheme for a new piece of work:
1. The local colors of the subject matters: Normally the original local colors of the subject matters best projects the characteristics of the subjects themselves. The visual impact to the viewers is strong. E.g. Red Apple, Blue Sky....
2. The secondary reflected colors generated by environmental lighting from reflected light: Secondary reflected colors enrich my works with complementary and environmental colors. I like to use these colors to create more interest for my subject matters. The variation and vibrancy are both exciting to me.
3. Expressive colors based on artistic concepts or My Own Experimental colors: This category is the most exciting part of art creation as I can do whatever I like. I am always ready to fail my experiments. Sometimes, I use colors to expressive the atmospheric feelings, sometimes the weathers, sometimes the people, sometimes the history and sometimes my own point of view and sometimes it is JUST AN EXPERIMENT. If you are a colorist, I think you enjoy this most.
These are the 3 fundamentals for my color choice. I applied them in mixed proportions intentionally or unintentionally. This is the fun of visual art. So do not spend too much time arguing about abstraction or realism, BUT enjoy using both of them.
This is what I have observed from many masterpieces. I might not be right, but I would like to share what I think here.
I realized that many times there were partial objects near edges of a piece of work. Normally I like to have the complete object in my work to feel safe; like the complete figure, the whole boat, the whole house and so on. I found the masters had done the opposite, BUT the impact of the works were 10 times more impulsive.
I think that's because the partial objects expand the motion and imagination out of the works. The scopes of viewing expand togather as viewers communicate with creators actively with their wild imagination. To see more of these type of examples, look at Sargent's works.
All the while there have been a lot of arguments between objective and non-objective art. Reading thru' the history and concepts published by different fields of artists, I sometimes get even more confused, though the confusion did bring me good knowledge.
A few weeks ago, I read concepts of art from the Modern Chinese Master, Prof. Liu Hai Su. All of sudden, I felt that he had fully enlightened me, clearing my long time doubts. I want to share a few things that I learnt here.
In his interview, he emphasized on the '6 skills' concept created by ancient Chinese Master Xie He. The '6 skills' concepts cover all aspects about Art Creation.
Prof. Liu categorized them (6 skills) into 3 major areas:
1. Craftmanship: That includes all aspects of artistic elements (colors, shapes, lines, tones...), design concepts (composition) and brush skills (drawing skills and calligraphic skills). Both masters emphasized on learning from all old time masters.
2. Observations: Prof. Liu and master Xie both called it 'LEARN FROM NATURE'. Prof. Liu admired Constable very much. He regarded master Constable as the 1st impressionist who worked from observations of nature. I 'READ' Constable's works in London, National Gallery in 1999. I fully agreed with Prof. Liu.
3. Inner Emotion: It simply means 'expressing ourselves' BUT with skill 1 and 2 READY
Here we understand the timeless argument of objective and non-objective art is a waste of time. Artists are free to put more weightage on any of the 3 areas depending on their chosen subject matters BUT as an artist, everyone MUST learn to master 1 and 2 in order to be good at 3.
Many painters like watercolor because of its transparent freshness. Beginners always have problem achieving that because most of them can't work like experienced painters that only work 1 to 2 layers. So beginners constantly overwork on a painting. My experience was to keep the grazing / layering colors very close to the base color. That retains similar pigment sizes and achieves maximum light reflection hence keeping colors fresh. But sometimes I am just too lazy to do it this way.
I watched a video of a China master watercolorist Mr. Guan Wei Xin. He gave me some hint of an alternative way to keep the colors transparent. He worked with Chinese calligraphic brushes. He worked like a calligrapher with his hand lifted. I observed that there was not mush pressing of the surface. He could easily wash and re-apply colors on the surface. He also used one big pail of watercolor to keep the water clean so that it would not mess up the fresh colors. He could work slowly and multiple layers on the surface with some re-work and still keeping transparency. So there idea here is to avoid all frictions between the paper surface and brushes and use clean water all the time. Try it out yourself.
A lot of beginners have mixed up between 'likeness' and 'details'. I would like to say a few words here from my own experience. 'Likeness' has no direct relation with 'details'. How detailed one's work is, doesn't determine the 'likeness' of its subject matter. It is only a matter of personal style. 'Likeness' comes from CORRECT proportions. If the right proportion is reached, the shape will look like the subject matter. One example here : If you see you friend at 100 meters away from you, you are sure who he is, BUT you can only see his outer shape, not his eyes, nose and so on. That tells us our eyes only react to basic shapes for likeness.
Therefore the advice here is : To be a representational artist, please train up one's reaction to proportions and the BEST way is to do more sketches and life drawing. And one day, the eyes, the hand and the brains will work as ONE!
Light and shadows are very powerful elements in representative painting. Here is my experience when I compose with light and shadows. I will try to rotate the light source until I find some design patterns that give strong impulse to a picture composition. Even when we are painting outdoor, we can alter the light and shadows to create more interest to our composition.
My article "Adding figures in landscape" is in the Autumn 2002 issue of Watercolor Magic. I describe the guidelines about composing landscapes with interesting figures.
Mr. Gog Sing Hooi is always my most admired Nanyang Watercolourist. He imposed Oriental Caligraphic strokes into the traditional british transparent watercolour. And I can feel the strength of the strokes in his works. The most exciting thing is, the strokes are unified and balanced well in the composition. His watercolours are masterpieces of Western art with the bless of Oriental touch.
**Note : To purchase a copy of Gog Sing Hooi's watercolour book, please contact Singapore Watercolour Society -- (SGD50/= per copy).
When we are painting on location, please take note that our eyes are constantly adjusting to the light intensity. When we are focusing at dark objects, the objects brighten up while the reverse goes to objects under high light. This dynamic behaviour narrows down our tonal spectrum, so we end up with very weak contrast for the centre of interest. The changing outdoor light luminosity makes it even more difficult.
When we paint on location, it is better to compose the tonal values before carrying out the actual work. We must constantly refer to the plan to overcome the varying lighting condition.
Normally we have to study colors from color wheel to understand how to apply colors to create contrast and harmony. Here I would like to provide some very simple guidelines that I have digested after studying and experimenting with color wheel. The idea is to understand 3 basic things related to colors; tone, temperature and hue.
To create maximum contrast : - apply all the 3 concepts together to the extreme ends. E.g. Cold(Temperature) and Dark(tone) Purple(contrast color to Yellow) Vs Warm(temperature) and Light(Tone) Yellow(contrast color to Purple).
**Note : Blueish Purple Vs Chrome Yellow. Here we are able to make purple very dark while yellow is always bright. This is how we can easily achieve maximum contrast.
Other examples: Yellowish Green (Olive Green) Vs Rose Red, Chrome Orange Vs Prussian Blue.
To create maximum color harmony : --- Keep color hues, temperature and tone nearer.
If we want something in between we can just choose 1 or 2 of the above 3 contrasting methods. It is that simple!
E.g. Cold blue (Prussian Blue) with cold red (Rose Red).
(1)Draw in this sequence : Upper portion of the body (above abdomen), then --> Lower part of the body (below the abdomen) then --> the legs then ---> the hands and finaly ---> the head. The logic behind is : Start from the portion with fewer degree of freedom so that we can use them as our static reference for the next more dynamic portion. It is not possible to use dynamic position as static reference. Therefore start with head is more difficult though possible!
(2)Keep the heads small so that the figures look taller.
(3)Figures should share the same artistic languages used in the landscape, in terms of strokes, colors, patterns......
(4)All design guidelines are still applied to the figures. E.g. Contrast : Figure for centre of interest Vs Background figures.
I have gained very precious experience since I started practicing oil painting. I constantly had problems when I started to paint the 4 corners of my watercolor works. I could not judge how much I should let go; so I sometimes used the ease of watercolor effect (wash of colors) to overcome it. BUT I know I was not solving the problem.
When I practiced oil painting I need to overcome the same problem without the ease of watercolor effect. I started judging the right amount of details needed; the strokes, the direction, the right tonal values, color constrast, harmony and composition balance. When I came back to watercolor again, I was so surprised that I got dozen of solutions. Thanks to Oil Painting and Many Thanks to Mr. Experienced (one who has given me this great advice). My next move is to practice some Chinese brush painting. According to him, this will improve my drawing skills very fast.
我從油畫中得到下例寶貴經驗. 畫水彩時, 四個角落的松緊取捨常常不得當, 所以經常用濕中濕的手法敷衍了事. 但我了解問題並沒有被妥善的解決.
油畫要我不得不正視這個問題, 因為它不能渲染. 我開始正視如何決定取捨程度, 筆觸應用, 方向性制造, 正確色階, 色系統一變化及构圖平衡張力. 謝謝油畫也謝謝老經驗先生指點. 下一步是學習中國水墨畫, 他說對用筆及畫功很有幫助.
Watercolor pigments are metal oxides. Normally at aqueous condition, some alkali or acid will form. So mixing 2 or more different oxides (different color pigments) will have chances of forming some insoluble salts. And the pigment sizes and densities are generally different. Therefore mixing non-adjacent colors together tends to form dull mixtures. But if you like to play with gray colors, you'll have a whole series of cool and warm gray colors.
Some experienced watercolorists taught me these tricks. They told me to mix colors on the paper. Control the concentration of pigments differently to arrive at different effect of Wet in Wet. Concentrated colors will not flow into each other totally. So you get fresh colors and their mixtures. For dilute mixtures, because of the different pigment densities and pigment sizes, the 'heavy' pigments will settle in the 'paper valleys' while the 'light'pigments will flow. Hence an interesting transparent effect is created.
水彩顏料多為金屬氧化物. 溶于水時,可產生酸性或鹼性溶液. 所以, 兩種或以上的不同水彩顏料相混后, 可能發生化學反應而生成不易溶于水的鹽. 各顆粒粒子大小及密度通常不相同, 所以易產生混濁色. 如欲達到多變的灰色系, 則可用此法; 您可獲得一系列冷暖不同的灰色群.
幾位老經驗的水彩畫家教了我一些技法; 他們教我紙上混色法. 如此能控制水彩濃度以達在不同的濕中濕效果. 濃度高的顏料並不易流動而相混, 如此能得到高明彩度的鮮艷色調. 對調得較淡的混色方式而言, 由于各種水彩顏料顆粒粒子大小及密度的不同,重者會沉入水彩紙面的凹洞中,輕者自由流動, 而后產生有趣的透明效果.
I constantly faced problems with compositions. Sometimes, I just couldn't figure out why my compositions did not work out right.
One time, I got some advice from one of the Watercolor Masters (an AWS-DF, I do not have the permission to publish his name here; BUT I would like to thank him for his HELP!) to carry out some VERY simple exercise to help me in this area. And the outcome was just EXCELLENT.
He sent me a letter attached with some of his small scale black and white analysis of Andrew Wyeth's works. Below is what he advised me to do :
1. Photostat Wyeth's works into small scale Black and White pictures.
2. Study the macro shapes and macro tonal values used in the pictures by re-constructing the simplified shapes and tones in Black and White. Effectively, the pictures are made up of 2 to 3 types of basic large shapes and tonal values.
3. THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP: Analyze and understand how these basic elements create (a) space and perspective (b) directions (c) balance (d) contrast and harmony (e) focus or center of interest (f) atmosphere (g) sense of motion or stiffness (h) rhythm.
1.复印怀斯 (Andrew Wyeth) 的作品成細小的黑白稿
2.參考其構圖中的各個主要造型, 去蕪存菁, 可發現它是由二至三種基本形所組成.
3.最重要的步驟: 分析及理解其基本元素 (a) 空間與透視的形成 (b) 如何制造方向性 (c) 构圖的平衡作用 (d) 統一(調和/和協)與對比(變化) (e) 焦點及趣味中心 (f) 氣氛制造 (g) 律動性與靜態 (f) 節奏感
One Sunday morning, I was out to do painting. Suddenly the weather changed and it started to rain. I looked at it and I knew that it wouldn't stop in a short while. BUT I still wanted to paint. So I decided to try rainy scene. I read from one oil painting book that says during rainy days, the light source is high and far. I realized the objects like rooftop, surface of the streets and the sky were brighter. I got a successful piece that I like very much. It captured the feelings.
Next time when you doing outdoor painting, you will realize not only direct morning sunshine is suitable for watercolor. There are more interesting light patterns (back-lit, reflection, diffraction, ....) than the directly sunshine.
下雨時,光源高而遠,處于高處者或水平面, 皆受光。所以如路面, 屋頂, 遠處的天空皆較明亮。
多嘗試各種光源(背光, 反射光, 繞射光等), 有助于發掘各類比直射晨光更有趣及變幻無窮的光感。