Diane Mannion, Spanish Point Boats, 6x8" oil
Quick demo study I painted during my Artists Bootcamp class this morning. We had to paint inside because of the weather, so we did "pretend" plein air studies from some black and white photos I took at Spanish Point.
Started this painting by coating the panel with linseed oil and yellow ochre, then demonstrated a technique of "wiping off" the composition... barely indicating where the masses of darks and points of light would be.
Then using only red, yellow, blue, and white sketched in the areas with color. Cerulean blue and white for the sky worked well with a touch of yellow ochre toning it down. The yellow ochre was also a great help on the sails, only needed to add white.
Although the boat on the shore was white, I explained how the darks and lights had to be mixed to make a "darker" white for shadows. Shared my favorite idea: "If in doubt, use purple." So, I mixed a purple to capture the darker value. Mixed red and blue and yellow for the trim, which made a nice brown.
A few dabs of yellow to make a lighter green to highlight the trees, along with some lighter blue-green strokes to define the mass. Also explained the miracle of "sky holes" in the trees, which are usually a darker shade of the sky (so they don't pop out). Made the background softer and more blue to suggest distance. Pumped up the bow of the foreground boat with a brighter red to make it stand out.
Discussed how I thought the center of interest was the sailboat... the brightest color set off by the darkest dark. And noticed how the foreground boat also had strong values. But the most interesting thing to me is the movement of the sailboat behind the foreground boat. Maybe, there's a conflict of central interest? Don't care, I like it the way it is. Also mentioned edges... a important fundamental of painting. Edges can be softened to indicate rounded form, can be lost and found, and can be sharp to pop forward. Also talked about mixing color on the palette, putting down the strokes and letting them be with as little blending as possible.
The composition of this painting has a strong diagonal element of darks and lights. The horizon is not dead center, but higher.
We studied CF Payne's Forms of Composition such as the "Suspended Steelyard, Three spot, Group Mass, Balanced Scales, the O, the S or Compound Curve, the Tunnel, and the Diagonal Line." Some artists like to diagram their compositions beforehand. I see composition as visual music... if it looks right, it feels right, then it's fine with me. But it does help to keep some of the formality of classic composition in mind. For example, my favorite is the S curve... which is great for beach paths and forest trails.
Color, composition, values, edges, brush stroke quality... almost all you need to know about painting. Keep it simple.
This post is a long one! Congrats if you made it this far, you get an A. It's basically everything I stress in every class I teach. And this last group of students has been a joy!