Thursday, July 26, 2012

Peggi Kroll Roberts and a Way to Change Your Values

(I’m talking about values in art, not finance or morals!)

For this post, it would be good to look up value, form and grey day painting in Artful Definitions.

I tend to have almost the full value range (from practically black to almost white) in my paintings. It’s what comes naturally for me. Other painters may instinctively paint with a lighter palette and not go near the very darks. Still others stay in a narrow value range of medium tones with very few extreme lights or darks.
Being able to change what comes naturally (when it comes to values) is a new concept for me, one introduced by the Peggi Kroll Roberts workshop. Peggi gave me a way to lighten and tighten my value range.
It works sort of like a musician playing a piece a couple of octaves higher. It’s the same song but it sounds different. Lighten values, and it may be the same subject but it will look and feel different.
In Peggi’s technique, basically you start with a mid-value color as the darkest dark in one’s painting. To create form in the dark passages, you use color shifts rather than value shifts.
The above painting was done in the workshop and has no value darker than mid range.
Next time I’ll explore why controlling value in this way is a very good thing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Peggi Kroll Roberts and Her Exercise in Notan

I just took a Peggi Kroll Roberts workshop and this post is about our favorite exercise, an exercise intended to prove the importance of value… an exercise based on the concept of notan.
[To see the definition of both value and notan, visit the Artful Definition page.]
For some background information, the three day workshop was figurative with one day of still life and the other two devoted to the human figure. I was very excited to attend because figurative workshops are somewhat rare and because I really like Peggi’s beautiful simplified figures.
Value is one of the essential tools of the representational artist. And Peggi’s exercise demonstrated this point superbly. In it, we were to paint the human figure from life in 20 minutes using only two colors, one dark and one light. We would use the dark color to paint everything in shadow and the light color to paint everything that was lit. 
We could paint with any two colors we wanted as long as one was much darker than the other. This made it fun. We had only one decision to make: what was in shadow and what was in light. This made it easy… which of course, made it more fun!
At the end of the 20 minutes, we all had paintings that “read” (i.e. paintings of totally recognizable subjects even though stripped both of detail and of realistic color).  It was visual proof of the preeminence of value over color. The color absolutely didn’t matter; the values absolutely did!  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Girls in White Dresses...

Her Mother’s Wedding Dress is a 24x24 oil done in open studio by Shirley Fachilla.

White is much beloved by artists. We paint white horses, houses, shirts, clouds, laundry and yes, white dresses. Why do we love it so? Perhaps because white isn’t ever really white.
I don’t mean this in a moral sense (as in nothing is ever black or white) nor as a gauge of innocence (as in white as the driven snow).  I mean it very literally. In representational painting (with the exception of the medium of watercolor where the white paper can itself becomes the lightest value), nothing is ever actually white. It’s white with a touch of color, sometimes the barest touch, but color nonetheless.
And the shadows of a white object are wonderful because they become blue, pink, violet, green and even occasionally, actually grey.
Artists can paint a kaleidoscope of tints and hues all while painting something supposedly white. What could be more fun than that!
Her Mother’s Wedding Dress is only one among many girls in white dresses that I’ve painted. I hope to paint many more.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Land in Sight

 Early Morning Sea Foam is a 10x8 plein air by Shirley Fachilla.
I’ve been researching seascapes for more than a year, ever since I knew I would be going to Maine to paint. Being from landlocked Tennessee, I needed to see how other painters had approached painting the ocean.
It’s a year later, I’m long back from Maine; but I’m still finding wonderful marine artists.
I’ve already blogged about the seascapes of Californian William Ritschel. This spring, I was in total awe of contemporary Ray Roberts and his seascape that took the grand prize at the California Art Club. And now I’ve discovered the stunning work of John Fredrick Kensett.
Kensett was a part of the second generation of Hudson River Valley artists. He was a Luminist like another favorite of mine, Sanford Gifford.  But while Gifford concentrated upon the mountains, Kensett painted the ocean. He painted it lyrically, poetically. In the last year of his life, he often painted it as sea, sky and light and nothing more… for nothing more was needed.   
My painting above is a plein air done in the rather early morning in Maine. After I saw some Kensett’s, and learned some watery lessons from them, I redid Sea Foam, so it, too, could try to be all about the sky, the sea and the light.  

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...