I haven’t done this before unless there’s a photo of the finished version to show alongside it — but here it is. A a photo of an unfinished seascape that I’m working on.
Anyone who has enrolled in one of my online courses knows that a painting during its creation is a foundation. That means that what you’re seeing is not going to be the end result, obviously, but more importantly what you’re seeing doesn’t indicate the direction in which the work is going, nor the degree of artistic elements (such as in this case mist, definition, colour and visual emphases).
Colour is one of those to highlight. Being a foundation, the colours you’re seeing below drive the end result. They inform the end result. But they do not reflect the end result not dictate it. Most notably in this photo are the colours of the sea, which won’t be that cacky insipid blue green – though a perfect foundation for what they’ll become – and the mist, which here is mostly pure white. Mist will eventually have depth and artistic meaning and balance. And there may be more or less of it.
So we’ll see what it looks like when finished, and compare the two photos.
I’ve made the photo a little darker on purpose, because, as a foundation, much of it is lighter so as to capture nuances of colour as it develops.
I’d have to give it more thought, but it could well be that “contrast” is the major culprit in spreading poor knowledge about art, other than poor – or no – knowledge of techniques.
That would be contrast in colour. And contrast in tone.
Thwacking a painting with a strikingly contrasting colour dramatically alters the painting and can dramatically alter the drama: the visual impact. Many modern abstracts rely on severe contrast of colour for them to strike the eye and for the un-beknowing viewer to consider it art. Often, strong contrast alone can pull this off. Terrific if there’s more involved, but unfortunately colour contrast alone is driving the painting.
Contrast in tone has a long tradition deep into art history. Differently, here often we find paintings that vary little in colour: very little contrast and certainly colour contrast is absent in mind when viewing them. However, you’ll certainly find these paintings often (most often? always?) have deep darks and areas of bright light.
These historical paintings still carry their effect when reproduced in lithographs or books in black and white. Strip away colour from the modern work relying on colour contrast – turn it into a black and white image – and you may see very little in it at all.
Contrast in tone can sustain an entire artist’s career. When I first started painting I knew an established artist who has spent a lifetime selling works that impact the eye, gain approval, invoke accolade from a local gallery visitor, all because of tonal contrast. Heavy darks against strong lights. Instant impact; instant drama.
But that’s largely what they are: sugar hits. After the impact…nothing.
Here’s a painting I did some while ago; a theme I particularly like:
Somewhat abstract, it’s a painting of raging swells assaulting a beach, strong winds belting the dune foliage (middle left) – an occasion when nature is unleashed wildly and the air itself is indistinguishable from the sea, being shot through with hurtling rain and thrown sea water. At least, that’s the idea. It’s a creative dream subject.
However, there’s not that much contrast in tone for most of the work, nor does it rely on contrast in colour.
Here it is in black and white:
It doesn’t rely on juxtaposing or including extreme darks along with lighter lights than shown here. In other words, the contrast is at the lower end of the “light” scale and doesn’t vary hugely.
Yet the drama remains. So too, the visual impact.
To explore the theme further would involve also lessening the contrast in both colour and tone. However, the drama and visual impact would have to remain. Only knowing techniques can achieve that.
It’s a theme I wish I had another lifetime to explore, entirely on its own.
Learning advanced oil painting techniques isn’t difficult at all. And using them is also super easy. In fact, it’s easier to create with advanced techniques than it is to struggle with basic techniques, which are the techniques usually taught.
Here’s a quick video showing the four stages taught in one of my online courses, if you can bear it through the preliminary statements. Much more fun than “coloring in” with the basic techniques.
And just to clarify: Techniques and their combination are the physical means by which paint is applied to canvas. Similar to the musician, where notes and chords are the physical means by which music is created.
I should also emphasise that these subjects have not been chosen because they’re stunning subjects — they’ve been chosen so that the student can learn the techniques for the widest range of applications – elements of subjects – that they can use in creating their own subjects.
People who wish to paint often ask about “detail”. Most believe that detail is created with a small brush. The smaller the brush, the more detail can be achieved. But that’s not so.
The opposite happens. When an artist relies on a small brush to create intricate imagery those strokes are always prominent. These then only serve to make the areas look underpainted and amateurish where the small brush isn’t used.
A second consideration is that intricacy of imagery in a painting betrays the artist’s lack of technique – or celebrates the artist’s mastery of technique. Artists who use poor technique simply cannot achieve the quality of intricacy that advanced technique can achieve. Poor technique cannot capture the vitality of an image: the energy and visual power that advanced technique, when used masterfully, captures.
Here is a tiny section of a painting. This photo shows a section about three inches (8cm) wide. It was created with a big brush and a knife, using five advanced techniques. No small brush here, at all.
That painting has just started. It’s less than a tenth of the way to completion.
What this means too is that if you are a buyer or art, you can check immediately the technical knowledge and proficiency of your possible purchase by looking into a small section of the painting. If it isn’t full of visual vitality, in a cohesive visual strata, that artist is lacking technical power and won’t be able to harness their full potential as an artist unless they learn better technique.
New paintings on display for sale arriving soon Dismiss