More sketches….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Sketching

George as a chef, though I think he could be mistaken for a few other characters!!


Today's Sketches….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Sketching

Most  Fridays I spend the day at the Victorian Artists Society studio either painting or drawing.   We have a model for two weeks in the same pose which really gives enough time to get some finished work done, especially in oils.  It’s a great atmosphere in this historic studio, where many of the Heidelberg school artists also painted.        I always feel privileged to be there. 

This is what I drew today….

Visiting galleries….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

Finding inspiration and motivation should be sought through many sources.  Visiting galleries is what might just take your skills up a notch!

I advise all artists to take time to visit exhibitions of all sorts.   “What do I look at?” some students ask.   Every time you go to the gallery, you can look for a different reason. 

A painting can be viewed for its subject….what do I paint, what makes for a good subject.  Note what people paint and consider what is around you, when you go home, maybe a subject has been under your nose all the time!

Each time you go to the gallery, go with a reason.  It might be that you go to look solely at the subjects depicted.   Or it might be that you look at compositions, and how they move your eye around the painting.  Note their lead lines/ lines of movement.

I advise you to visit galleries regularly, monthly is ideal, and go with a reason to view the work.  Even if it is the same work you viewed the month before you can find more ways of seeing it.  

Breaking the painting down into elements will help you to understand the painting and hopefully enhance your own technique.  Look at brushwork, lost and found edges, deliniated edges, fuzzy edges, dragged scumbelled edges. 

 Then, the next time you go, look for colour schemes and relate it back to your colourwheel….is the artist using a triad, a split complementary, complementary or harmonious colours?  Why does it work and what mood were they trying to achieve?  

Another time you head to the gallery, look at textures and how they were achieved, or skies, or tonal arrangements.  What is their focal point and how did they make you look at it?   There are so many ways of viewing a painting, it is important to look for more than one reason.

Most importantly, try to appreciate the edge in their technique,they have over your own work, and then see if you can get it into yours.  Envisiging good work before you start painting is quite important.   Trying to imagine what your finished work will be like before you start is a good attitude to have.

There is an infinite wealth of possibilities presented to us through galleries, each century producing new ideas and extending themselves further.  By birth you are guaranteed to be contemporary, however, only a few  of us are revolutionary artists breaking new ground. 

Not to visit galleries is to deprive yourself of a major source of inspiration.  It is elating  and instructive to discover that your own motivation resonates along the ideas of other artists in various ways, over many centuries.    However, dont think that your images  should necessarily imitate your favourite artists, just take an element of theirs and apply it to your technique and see how it works for you.  It might be for example, that you have a totally different colour sense to the artist of your choice, but you like their use of brushwork  or tonal keyetc. 

Reinventing a ‘modern’ or ‘today’ subject from an old masters’ work can be a source of inspiration  ….  ie. Pablo Picasso’s “Portrait of a Woman” after Lucas Cranch the Younger (1958) / Lucas Cranch the Younger, “Portrait of a Woman” 1564.   Translating the idea of past views into todays time can lead to whole new world of ideas.

So visit your local galleries soon and be inspired to perform better for it.


Tones……separating them from colour

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Concepts

The tonal values (ie. light to dark range), are more important than colour in organising a painting.  The tonal values are what give you a sense of depth to your work. 

Before you start your painting, decide where your lightest light and darkest dark will be positioned (this is your focal point), all other tones will fall between them. 

Take into consideration a number of elements affecting your scene, whether it be the weather conditions where a sunny day will give you greater depth than what a dull or misty day will.  The lighting on a model or still life may come from a window which will have a softer effect than a spot light. 

Alot of students have difficulty in separating tones from colour.  To work them out you need to keep looking at one tone in relation to another.  Looking through squinted or half closed eyes can be beneficial, as this cuts down on the detail of the subject and reduces them to simpler shapes whose tonal values become more apparent.  Looking into a black tile or black glass can also do this. 

If you have trouble assessing the tonal values of different areas of colour, you could make a tonal scale on some paper, from white to black with about nine or ten gradations using black and white paint.  Then hold your colour value next to one of the greyed scales and see if you can pick which tone your colour is.

Tonal arrangements are very important to the composition of your painting.  If the lightest light occurs too close to the edge of the canvas it may tend to not allow your audience to enjoy the work as a whole since it may draw their eye out of the picture or make it feel unbalanced.  If you have too light a tone near the edge of your work, darken it slightly.  

Strong tonal contrasts can be used to create emphasis where you want it because they attract the eye, so reserve the greatest contrast for your focal point.      Painting in monochrome is a good way to understand tonal values, as this eliminates colour from your palette. 

Cheers Gwendoline

P.S.  A black glass (4″x6″) can be made from a piece of thick bevel-edged glass painted black on one side.  Use this like a mirror to reflect your painting and your subject at the same time, looking either over your shoulder or holding it like a visor above your eyebrows.  It reduces the colour in the scene and shows up the tonal relationships.  A black tile will also work, but not reflect as much depth.