Monday, February 26, 2007
Weekly Theme-Put Life into Your Art!
This week's theme is about how to make your art more vibrant and alive, and therefore, make it more exciting to both make and view.
This topic, more than any other in art, has become my biggest motivator for teaching. My work in years' past, though fairly succesful, lacked an energy about it until just a few years ago, when I began being mentored by an artist who changed my life in terms of how I approach my art. She introduced me to the book, The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri, and also had me follow Kimon Nicolaides' excercises in The Natural Way to Draw, among many other techniques during the years I worked with her. I continue to strive to bring the principles of "The Art Spirit" to my own work.
It was Henri's book and his philosophy that I have taken to heart as an artist, and with the excellent guidance I experienced with my art mentor, it has transformed my work. I will try to encapsulate some of the most important messages and techniques that I learned over the past several years about keeping motion, spirit, life and gesture in the work that we create as artists, and share it with you in my blog posts this week.
This week, we will begin with the concept of value, go into the dynamics of gesture and line mid-week, and add brush strokes and mark-making techniques to finish out the week. Hopefully, by next Sunday, you will have an idea of how to go farther with these techniques to add life to your work, and will continue to explore their potential as your work progresses.
Today, let's look at the concept of value. It is truly a very uncomplicated subject- just lights and darks working together to make a piece appealing. But understanding how to master value is one of the most important fundamentals of art, in my opinion, and is one of the most daunting to new artists.
Almost every new artist I have ever seen, begins with a great fear of value, even if they are not able to articulate that fear. Marks on the page are light and tentative. They are afraid to "mess up," so the impressions they make on the page are barely there.
Even more accomplished artists will only be able to progress so far, if their work lacks a full understanding of how to utilize value.
As an example, I would like to use a watercolor and pen and ink painting I did of Prague Fountain (photo above), the original reference photo contributed here in the Wetcanvas! Reference Library, and featured the week of 2/4/06 in the Weekly Drawing Event, part of the All Media Art Events Forum (highly recommended!)
In the painting at the top of the post, you will see how I tried to bring more life to an already beautiful photograph, using a variety of techniques, but especially darkening values. If we look at just value alone, you can compare the painting above to the photograph to see where I made changes, in hopes of making the scene more dramatic.
If you have photo editing software, you can take an original photo and deepen the darks and lighten the lights to view the dramatic changes that you can create before you begin to draw or paint it. If you work from life alone, do value studies first (more on this tomorrow!) to see how you can use the value changes to your advantage and make your work pop off of the page.
The last thing I will do here today to illustrate this topic, is to lessen the contrast and equalize the values of my painting, so that you can compare it to the version at the top of the post. Doesn't this version look anemic in comparison?
Now, try a drawing or painting today, and don't be afraid to put in those dark darks and white whites! A full range of values will make your work much more powerful!