Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ambiguity to Clarity, Tonalist Landscape Painting in Progress

Here's where we left things last time.....with an undeveloped foreground
Below you can see how I've been bringing order out of the chaos of a loose underpainting.

work in progress, detail 1

work in progress, detail 2

Leonardo says "work out of ambiguity", Picasso says..."follow the paint". If you've mastered the basic of painting and are comfortable with your ability to mix colors and keep your palette harmonious, get your drawing right, design a working composition, create a realistic rendering of objects and create deep space through aerial perspective than working out of ambiguity and following the paint are good ways to begin to develop your own unique style or loosen up a style that is overly fussy and tight. (based on the way the poll numbers above are running developing your own unique style is important to a LOT of you! Still time to vote btw!))

So exactly how do you do that?  I find that using a very junky .69 cent 1 or 2 in. bristle brush from the job lot store and working in a single earthy transparent color quickly, almost like automatic writing is the key. I may sketch a bit first with thin paint and a smaller brush using lines to delineate the large shapes and objects but then I go at it in large sketchy, scrubby strokes often with full arm movements if the painting is large. I always  have a rag handy to pull off paint and lighten and soften areas. 

 I also find that it can be helpful to verbalize (literally) or in your head naming the things you want. As I approach a passage I might say out loud or think in my head things like tall dense cedars here, graceful marsh grasses here, craggy rocky masses in front. The use of adjectives is an important element here as you zero in on what the important characteristic of the passage is.

That's one way to tap into the vision that's in your mind's eye. Another thing I often find myself doing is putting on music that matches the mood I want for my painting and then lay in the underpainting as I tune into the music and don't think much at all about what's going on ,on the canvas.

Both of these approaches helps you tap into your more intuitive side, and that's good especially at the beginning of a painting. Sometimes I'm amazed at how expressive the under painting looks. The trick is keeping the expressive nature of the underpainting while you continue to develop it into a finished painting.

In the painting I'm working on there's a good example of following the paint. The mass behind the tree on the right was originally going to be shrubbery.After I developed the tree coverd hills on the far bank and cut the river in behind that mass I studied it for a while and the shapes and the shading that occured randomnly during the first automatic underpainting frenzy began to suggest rock formations to me.

I realized that bushy foliage right there in front of the foliage covered hill behind probably wasn't a really great idea and a rocky outcropping made a lot more sense as a counterpoint. Now did that just come to me from spending some time looking at the painting and listening to what it was saying or did I subconsciously know that during the underpainting stage and that's what was already there and I just needed to see it conscioously? Who knows!LOL

The important thing is that I folowed the paint by taking the time to look closely at the painting and see how it was developing and not force it into a preconceived plan.

Taking care of business, a couple of things of note....

I'm going to be developing some teaching materials in the coming year and I want them to be focused on what's important to you and what you need as an artist to grow and develop, For the art lovers and collectors who are part of the family here I'll be looking to address your interests as well. To that end I'm going to be putting up simple poll questions over the next few weeks to gain better insight into your needs. If you have suggestion on things you'd like to see me write about please leave a comment or e-mail me
Please take a moment and vote in the poll above (if you subscribe via e-mail you'll have to actually visit the blog to vote )

I have already registered for the smARTist 2010 Telesummit! Won't you join me?

I attended last year and I really can't sing it's praises enough. Use my affiliate link to get the $50 Early Bird Discount until Dec 8th. The interactive registration page has tons of information and will most likely answer all your questions. You're not trapped there once you click the link (I hate that about some sites) you can visit, read, listen and watch first before you decide. Here's my link for smARTist 2010

140Hours 96 Hour auction starts Dec. 11th

The amazing twitter art auction 140Hours is catching on like wildfire and another purchasing opportunity is right round the corner!

I'm listing a different painting in this auction and if you're a fan of my semi-abstract Landscape Echoes series this is your chance to scoop up one of them!

Find out how to register to bid, view all the artworks and get the inside scoop at 140Hours
(note: I'm not sure if the auction page has updated my painting yet, you might still see Sky & Marsh, but since you're an insider you'll know that Winter Nocturne is the piece being auctioned)

Landscape Echoes 12: Winter Nocturne, 11x14, acrylic on panel


AutumnLeaves said...

What a veritable font of information, Jan. I like hearing of your processes and ways in which you tap your creative muse. (The music idea sounds perfect!) I think this painting is gorgeous!

Jan Blencowe said...

Thanks so much for visiting AutumnLeaves! Bath & Bodyworks makes a hand lotion called Autumn Leaves which is one of my favorites. But I digress!

I've heard some say that listening to music while you paint divides your attention and that's bad and I know others who swear by it! I think it is something you should try for yourself and see if you get the results you want. Creating is such a personal thing and there are many methods and processes to use.