Monday, January 10, 2011

Class 1— Jan. 13 – Emulation

If you could paint like any other artist, who would it be? Most of us can answer that pretty easily, I think! You may have two or three artists in mind, but for this class you need to choose one. 

First, I want you to analyze the art elements that you identify as lacking in your own work. This is going to take some introspection, so I suggest you lay out a small body of work, perhaps 6 or 8 paintings, so that you can look carefully at your work. It's preferable to look at the painting themselves, not thumbnails or photographs. Then ask yourself which ONE element you plan to improve in this lesson.

This requires a little review of these elements, of course, so here are sites for you to look at:

Among these elements might be: 
  • texture
  • color
  • contrast
  • space
  • form
  • strokes
  • style
  • detail
  • edges
  • line
  • harmony
  • unity
  • variety
  • emphasis
  • opposition
  • gradation
  • repetition
  • balance
  • dominance
  • movement 
  • rhythm 
  • proportion
  • value
I want you to decide which specific element your overall work needs in order to improve and find an artist whose work you really want to emulate (in that one part, not in whole.) Spend time assessing where your work is lacking and then search for artwork that does well what you need to improve on

Once you've found your inspiration, please bring photographs of two paintings by that artist that you think show the element you're concentrating on

For instance, if I think I need to work on creating more contrast in my paintings I might bring in photographs of paintings such as these by Nathan Fowkes to emulate:

I'm going to analyze how he has handled contrast, what it is that seems to make these paintings eye catching and compellingly interesting. I might consider the way he has used his values, how he has balanced dark and light, and how high in chroma and light in value the lights are compared to the darks. I could change the paintings to grayscale and think about them in terms of values only, or do several thumbnail sketches of them using black, white and gray, in order to help me see how he has done it. I would then be able to come into the classroom on Thursday with some very specific goals to shoot for in my own work.

Please prepare to explain the ONE element you plan to improve on and show the artwork that inspires you. Come with paper and materials on hand, ready to paint after the lecture portion of the class.

To start our discussion, I’ll share with you the work of artists I admire and show you why I believe their paintings are successful, pointing out some specific art elements I believe they use well. 

I can't resist... It's ELEMENTARY, my dear... (I wish I had thought of that for the class title!)

Remember the classroom opens at 11:00.  If any of you are planning to come to the class and haven't enrolled, come on along!

See you on Thursday.

If anyone wants to join in who cannot attend the class, the offer of working privately with you online stands.


  1. Hi Deborah, Wish I was there for your class! Wonderful idea and it has me thinking about my own work already.....and what needs improving and why.!

  2. Hi Maggie... It's a good idea to analyze these elements now and again. Have fun! :)

  3. Well Holmes, this is a fab idea for a class, I'm with Maggie, wish I was there. Think I'll do a bit of evaluation right here in the fabled land of Texas. Stay warm and have some yummy green chili for me soon please!

  4. Thanks, Margo! Hope the evaluation is fruitful... :)(And boy, do we need the green chile now. It's been COLD!)