Saturday, January 15, 2011

Emulation Class results

It was so nice to get back to the classroom again! I think the class really jazzed up a few of the students, judging from the paintings I saw in progress.

We began by going over the elements of art and examining each one. It's challenging to take a close look at your work and see what's missing, so I find it helpful to look at these elements one at a time. Here's the list for you to examine:

Basic Art Elements
  • Line
    • The mark made by a pastel or brush, or the edge created when two shapes meets. Often this is an outline, contour or silhouette. Line can add emphasis, but can detract if overused.
  • Color
    • Ask yourself if the color is too flat, wimpy,and weak, or too bright and overpowering. Do you have a pleasing unity or contrasting variety of color? Are colors missing from your palette?
  • Contrast
    • Many elements may contrast in a painting; size, colors, values, etc. The area of highest contrast draws the eye first. Is there too much contrast, making things spotty? Or is there too little, making the painting dull?
  • Value
    • The lightness or darkness of a color. Do you have an excellent range of values to express the place, person or thing you’re painting?
  • Space
    • Is there an overall flatness to your paintings, no matter what the subject? There are devices you can use to create a feeling of space: overlap, hierarchy, value shift, etc.
  • Form
    • Form has height, width, depth, defined by light and dark. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Often in painting a still life or a portrait you might lack form.
  • Texture
    • Physical strokes on the paper make texture, as does the look of a surface quality you create in portraying it. Varied textures makes interest. Lack of texture is flat and boring.
  • Detail
    • Those smaller bits that describe how something looks draw the eye. Does the detail overwhelm your work, or is there too little of it?
  • Strokes
    • Do you use the same size stroke, in the same scale and with the same touch all the time? How can you vary that?
  • Edges
    • Hard and soft edges help to sculpt space in a painting. Consider the edges in your paintings to see if you use a good variety to describe your subject.
  • Harmony
    • Harmony is achieved in a body of work by using similar elements throughout. It gives an uncomplicated look to your work. 
  • Unity
    • Unity comes when all the parts create a whole, not appearing disjointed or confusing.
  • Gradation
    • Gradation can add interest and movement. Gradating of elements in size makes linear perspective, and in color and value makes aerial perspective. It creates form, and moves the eye around a form.
  • Repetition
    • Repeated elements make interesting variety. Monotony results when there is little variation.
  • Balance
    • Balance is created by repeating same shapes or giving equal weight to all quadrants or parts of a composition, or may result from a harmonious use of the elements.
  • Dominance
    • One to three dominant elements are interesting and may harmonize a composition, adding needed emphasis.
  • Movement 
    • The overall direction of the eye through the painting, giving action to the piece.
  • Rhythm 
    • Syncopated movement that starts and slows the eye’s path through the painting.
  • Proportion
    • Creates a sense of correct scale so that all the objects appear to be related properly in space.
  • Style
    • Do you have six paintings that look like they were painted by six different artists? Which appeals most and why?
I also suggest that you look at some of my favorite artists for examples of various uses of these elements

Derek does gorgeous line work, but he never forsakes tone.

Two very different painters, both strong colorists.

Nathan Fowkes
One of my personal favorites, and the guy knows his way around contrasting values.

Sally's color is surpassed by none, but explore it from a value standpoint!

He creates a lovely sense of distance whether in an intimate or vast scene.

Look at his flower paintings, especially!

van Gogh 
What can I say? None better!

Again, very different painters approaching detail in very different ways, equally valid.

Both of them use bold strokes, but very different.

Bill manipulates space beautifully with edges.

I find his little, tiny pieces done in gouache are incredibly harmonious.

Great unity of all elements in this work.

Look at the boulders and rock faces in particular.

Liz knows how to use this element particularly well.

This isn't an exhaustive list, just ideas to launch you on your search. Take the element you find missing from your own work and study the work of another artist, perhaps copying a painting, or choosing parts of the painting to emulate.

Kris copied a piece she admired, to learn loooooooser strokes. 
Carol used two paintings to inspire her own composition.
I hope that's helpful. Have some fun.

Keep on painting, gang!