Just recently, I taught a two-day workshop on taking your painting to the next level. I had a great group of participants and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
This workshop was targeted to painters who have become comfortable doing what they do but who would like to take their art a bit further. In my experience, this generally requires more focus on design and composition and being pickier about what you choose to paint. You want to choose something that you are excited about. The passion will show.
On the first day, we discussed composition and looked at some tools to explore the subject more completely before starting a painting. I am talking about thumbnails, value studies and notans. I had some reference photos handy on my computer, picked one that struck me in the moment and created the following thumbnail as a demonstration of picking about 4 values and blocking in shapes in those values.
Choosing a good format (what size and proportion of canvas) figured extensively into the discussion. Multiple thumbnails allow you to experiment with different proportioned sizes and to choose the one that works best.
Later, we took a promising thumbnail and did a notan (just black and white) to simplify the design even further and to see if any issues needed to be addressed. The top notan was a bit busy and was too even (50% white and 50% black). The lower notan assumed a high key painting (over all lighter) and gave me a more interesting design.
When getting organized for the workshop, I had planned to use a different reference for a painting demonstration but I was not excited about it. As the day wore on, I became even less excited about it. A value study demonstration really showed the weaknesses of the reference. But the reference, thumbnail and notan that I had done as demos that morning did grab my interest. So, on the spur of the moment, I decided to go with that as my demo painting.
The demo painting went well. I did a quick underpainting on day 1 and on day 2, demonstrated how to correct value issues and also various painting techniques. Here is the painting (finished after the end of the workshop):
Once I finished the painting, I was curious to see if my painting reflected the composition I had worked out in the thumbnail and notan. I used Photoshop Elements to change my finished painting into 4 values and 2 values:
This painting may or may not be an award winner but I think it is a very solid effort. And it clearly demonstrates the connection between good planning and good painting!
The Okanagan provides inspiration wherever you look. I enjoy both painting on location and working in my studio. For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org