In this video, I'm talking about being honest with yourself as an artist. Listen to your consciousness when it tells you you need to remix a color or use a different brush. Doing so will help you be more productive as an artist.
In this post, we’re talking about techniques.
Years ago I made a video claiming that I didn’t use any technique in my painting. Now I’d like to revise that. I think I really was using a technique or several and just didn’t, and still don’t, know what they were. I don’t think it’s possible to draw or paint without using any technique.
I had the idea back then that artists who used techniques used one technique and that you had to pick a technique and stick with it or you couldn’t use technique at all. Now I know that artists can use as many techniques as they want. They can even combine techniques in the same painting. Sure there are artists who only ever use one technique, but that’s not a rule.
I’m going to share with you the three techniques that I’m familiar with, regardless of whether or not I’ve actually used them.
Glazing is the technique I’ve been experimenting with the most. To glaze you take paint colors that are already transparent, mix them with water or medium so they’re even more transparent, and apply them in multiple light layers. Glazing is commonly associated with realism because it allows artists to create very believable textures due to how light shows through the layers. Glazing as a painting technique has a long history. The Old Masters glazed. The texture of the woman’s skin in this painting
and the woman’s tunic in this painting,
was achieved through glazing.
Wet Into Wet
Wet into wet is done by putting color down on top of or next to another color without waiting for the first color to dry so that the colors blend together. You could think of it as mixing color right onto your canvas. The only time I personally use the wet into wet technique is when I think something is too dark or too light and I’m too lazy to remix a color, so I just layer some black or white onto my color that’s on the canvas while it’s still wet. Wet into wet is not easy to do in acrylics because they dry so fast, but you can do it if you have an airbrush that you can use to periodically mist your paint with water to keep it wet as you work. This video, from Lachri Fine Art, provides a demonstration of wet into wet blending.
This is the one technique of the three that I have no personal experience with, but I find it very interesting. Impasto is applying paint very thickly to the canvas using bold strokes, sometimes with a palette knife. Impasto is commonly associated with impressionism, which is a style that revolves around lights and darks rather than fine detail. Van Gogh did an extreme version of impasto. A more recent artist associated with impasto was Lucian Freud. Unlike in glazing, the brush strokes in impasto are visible. Impasto is Italian for dough or mixture.
In this video, I'm explaining that all your acrylic and oil painting surfaces need to be primed and demonstrating how to do that. I also answer the questions of why your painting surface needs a primer, how to tell if a canvas is already primed, why you should learn to gesso even though so many canvases come preprimed, and why can't use white paint as gesso.
In this post, I'm going to explain why I think it's okay to paint and draw from photographs.
I made a post defending the concept of copying in general. This one is going to be a bit different from that one, though. Whereas in that post I was defending drawing from something artist's imagination, in this post I'm going to be defending working from photographs instead of or, better yet, in addition to, working from life.
In no way am I saying you should only ever work from photos and forget about ever working from life. Absolutely not. I think being able to draw from life is a wonderful skill and I love getting an opportunity to practice it. This post is not criticizing drawing from life. What this post is criticizing is the insistence on drawing from life exclusively, or really, the insistence that other people draw from life exclusively. If you're reading this and you love drawing from life and you hate working from photos, you don't want to use them, I have no problem with that.
I really wonder if the people who insist that artists work from life have even thought about how unrealistic that sounds. There are people that charge money to sit for artists who want to paint from life, because asking someone to remain motionless for a half an hour at a time so you can paint is a lot to ask of anyone. Yes, I can always look in the mirror and paint myself, but maybe I don't want to paint myself all the time.
When it comes to animals, forget about it. I can barely manage to catch my dog being still for a few seconds, let alone a half hour.
The above drawing was done from a photo I took when my dog just happened to stand still for a few seconds during a running around frenzy.
The only time I could catch my dog being still long enough to maybe draw her from life is if she was sleeping and even then, she's probably wake up and start running around before I could finish.
Some people think artists should always draw from life because that's how real artists did it, that's how the Old Masters did it. First of all, the Old Masters didn't even have cameras so working from life was pretty much their only option. Something the Old Masters did do, though, was if they were working on a large project, such as when Leonardo Da Vinci was working on "The Last Supper", they would go out onto the streets with their sketchbooks, sketch people that went by as quickly as possible as they went by, and then bring these sketches back to the studio to use as reference. If they'd had cameras would they have snapped photos of people to use? Who's to say?
Sometimes it's not even about drawing a subject, for me at least. It's about capturing a scene, something that will only be there for a fleeting amount of time. Just go to my gallery and look at my wildlife section. Pretty much none of those pieces could have been done if I wasn't open to working from photos.
Some words of caution, though, for artists who like to work from photos. Learn how to take a good reference photo and learn what makes a good reference photo.
Also, and this is very important, only work from photos that you take yourself or have permission to use, even if that permission is granted through a creative commons or royalty-free license, particularly if you want to be able to sell your piece. Copyright infringement can get you in a lot of trouble. Don't think that changing the photo gets you off the hook either.
Even if you work from photos, the more yoh know about anatomy and perspective, the better off you'll be.
On Wednesday, I published a blog post about the rule of thirds. In this post, I'm going to be covering the golden ratio, particularly how it applies to drawing faces.
The golden ratio is often called the golden ratio of Da Vinci, because it's present in many of his portraits, including the Mona Lisa.
Simply put, the golden ratio describes what is considered to be s perfect face. If you see someone who looks really pretty or handsome, the chances are pretty good that their features fit the golden ratio.
Above, I've drawn a face and divided it into thirds horizontally and then in half horizontally and vertically. I measured my character's face to be six inches long and four inches wide.
According to the principal of the golden ratio, the spaces from the forehead to the eyebrows, from the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose and from the bottom of the nose, will be a third of the face each, thus, the lines I drew. Each cheek will be approximately the same width. The mouth has to be at one third the distance between the nose and chin. I had a hard time measuring one third of two inches with my ruler, so I eyeballed it as best I could and drew three lines from the bottom of the nose to the chin.
This is the completed face.
I'd like to caution against always relying on the golden ratio when you draw faces, though. This is pretty much what would be considered an idealized face, not so much a realistic one. Yes, some people's faces really will have these proportions, but not very many. A much better strategy is to just look at your model or reference photo than rely on any set formula.
While I don't encourage relying on the golden ration, necessarily, I do think you should know about it because it's important to art history and you might use it sometimes. Like I said, it helps to create an idealized face, which sometimes might be just what you want, like when your subject actually has these proportions or if you're personifying something nonhuman in your artwork, meaning you're trying to send a message with your piece rather represent something in the real world.
The golden ratio can be used to determine where all things are placed in your piece, not just how you draw faces. I chose to focus on how it applies to drawing faces for this post because that's the aspect I personally find most interesting about it. I'm going to embed a video, though, that explains the golden ratio vs the rule of thirds better than I'm able to.
So why have so many artists throughout history used the golden ratio to draw portraits, even though most people don't actually look like this? Well, I have a couple of guesses. Number one, the golden ratio equals perfect proportion and perfect proportion is something our eyes are instinctively drawn to, which is advantageous for the artist. Using the golden ratio could've also been a way of flattering a subject who was likely much more powerful than the artist.
There's a bit of debate in the art world as to which is better for making pleasing compositions, the rule of thirds or the golden ratio. My stance is, it doesn't matter which one you choose or if even use either at all. I don't plan my pieces according to any of these techniques. I just put things where they look good to my eye.
Today, we're going to look at five of my pieces and see how well they live up to the rule of thirds.
Some background info:The rule of thirds is a composition technique in which an artist divides a surface into nine equal squares and the idea is that points of interest should be placed where the squares meet.
The thing is that a well composed piece often follows the rule of thirds unintentionally. That just means that what naturally looks good to your eye, will likely fall within the rule of thirds.
To that end, I've decided to see how well my pieces fit within this rule. To determine this, I've imported photos of five of my pieces into Corel Paintshop and overlayed grafts on top of them.
This is "Couple In Costume At Balboa Park" and both of the people's faces just about fall within those areas.
'Same thing with Danique's head and both pairs of hands in "The Knitting Lesson".
In "Orangutan Hanging Out" the orangutan's body hits on those marks.
The swan's head in "In Coming Swan" almost falls within this rule and his neck does.
I just want to say, if a piece does not follow the rule of thirds, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad piece, but, if you're not happy with your compositions, try utilizing the rule of thirds and see how things turn out.
I got the idea to do this with my paintings from this video by Lisa Clough.
In this post, I'm going to tell you why you should consider mixing charcoal with graphite.
A while ago, I made a video about things I had learned about charcoal.
Something I've never shared, though, is that sometimes I like to mix charcoal with graphite, as I did in these two drawings.
The reason I sometimes mix charcoal with my graphite is because sometimes I want something to be truly black, such as the sweater on the woman in the one drawing, and the bars of the gate in the other, and even the darkest graphite pencils and shading sticks don't get truly black. The darkest you can get with them is a very dark gray. I think charcoal pencils are great for small areas, like the pupils of people's eyes, but for both of the above drawings, I used compressed charcoal, which looks like this.
The thickness of compressed charcoal allows me to cover an area much more quickly and smoothly than I could with a pencil. I demonstrate this from 1:18 to 3:09 of the video below.
The only downside to this is, because charcoal is so soft, it smears easily. To that end, try as hard as you can not to touch it. You also might want to try using a workable fixative. This is something you can spray on the charcoal portion of your drawing, which will lock it in place, but while still allowing you to continue working.
You don't have to mix charcoal with your graphite, but I wanted to let you know it's an option.
There’s a popular artist on youtube named Leonardo Pereznieto, who’s channel is called Fine Art-Tips. I’m on his email list and it was an email I got about just this topic, mixing charcoal with graphite to make your blacks really black, that inspired this video.
Continuing "You Lookin' At Me?" and "Ways To Make Your Subject The Focal Point Of Your Painting" Video
I have an official title for the painting I'm working on. I'm calling it "You Lookin' At Me?"
Monday's video was about how to keep the viewer's eye on the subject of your painting.
Wednesday's video was about how to make sure all the elements of your painting work together.
Friday's video was about me showing my childhood paintings and talking about how some things just don't change.
Next week, I'm going to have a video about mixing charcoal with graphite, among other things.
That's all for now. I'll be back next week with another post.
I've begun work on a new portrait this week.
Monday's video was about how artists shouldn't give up on their pieces, even when they seem hopeless.
Wednesday's video was about how science and art are not mutually exclusive.
What was supposed to be Friday's video is a tutorial on how I paint hair in acrylics.
Next week, I'm going to have a video about how to create a focal point for your painting or drawing among other things.
That's all for now. I'll see you in the next post.
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Painter of portraits and wildlife