Each week I do a step by step demonstration painting for the students in both my Kaneville class, and at the Palette and Chisel Academy in Chicago. We discuss different situations or problems faced in trying to achieve a certain look or mood within a painting, and the ways to accomplish those goals.
We work predominantly from photographs, so finding a good photo is important.
When working from a photograph, remember that it is a reference –a tool used in working toward a finished piece of art.
Often the picture will not be perfect. Values, shapes, forms, or the arrangement of the elements themselves may need adjustment to develop a pleasing composition. Recognize what it is that you want to say about your subject and make adjustments accordingly.
The original photo on the left had an interesting backlit effect which I wanted to convey in my painting.
I wanted to demonstrate the glow of the setting sun coming from the background, so I began with adjusting the color in the photo to bring in that warmth.
The foreground is a combination of both warm and cool colors. The one area of snow has a harder edge which helps create a center of interest.
The second step is solidifying shape and form. With the light coming from behind, there aren't defined light areas of value. Instead, the light "wraps around" the forms creating the soft edges, with the dark areas most evident in the middle of the forms.
Also, painting the trees and the background at the same time helps to achieve the desired soft edges.
Note: an edge is where to different colors or values meet. When the colors or values are extreme they create a hard edge. When they are close in value or color they create a soft edge.
The final step in the demonstration is always detail. I like to keep the painting simple and let the pattern dominate the image.
Remember, a good photograph is merely a starting point toward a great painting.
There are many ways that artist use to create the illusion of depth in their paintings
• linear perspective
• aerial perspective
• contrast of values
One that I use most often is the angle and plane concept.
The change of value on a flat horizontal plane is different than that on an inclined plane. To make a plane in your painting appear to be horizontal, the amount of change of value needs to be within a 10 percent range. More of a change will make the plane inclined.
In this demonstration painting, the flat rock surface is basically a horizontal plane. The change of value from front to back is within the 10 percent range and therefore the plane appears to be horizontal.
Step 1 of the painting is the critical step which establishes the change of value of the horizontal plane.
Step 2-adding the background.
Step 3 -adding the details.
Adding more contrast and details in the foreground helps create the illusion of depth.