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Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 05:50 PM
This is from a class I'm teaching on how to find shapes before painting. I have beginners who need to see how to structure a landscape from the ground up, so I've photogaraphed my progress to show them now to make a thumbnail, a value map, an underdrawing and then apply layers of color.

I put these in a weekly sketch thread an was encouraged to put this into its own thread too. (That's one of the great things I've found here, wonderful encouragement from fellow artists!)

I found this photo in the image library and just fell in love with the door. It's in Giverny, somewhere I've never been, however it looks similar to the old doorways you find around Santa Fe so it seems familiar to me. (I've probably used more 'Santa Fe' turquoise in my painting...)

Edit: This photo was taken by Phyllis Franklin... me, lol. Just wanted to say I love the photo too and are happy that you like it as well.

First is the original photo.

Dyin
01-11-2004, 05:55 PM
fingers drumming...just did my first landscape in gouache so ready to learn! Where's the rest??? :D

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 05:56 PM
Next are the 30 second thumbnail and the five minute thumb I did. These are simply to find the angles and values and decide where on the page they should go. They're about the size of a credit card in real life. Smaller than that and I can't see them!

I'm often amazed at how complete a 30 second thumb can be when I compare it to a finished work--if I follow it, that is.

As I did the five minute thumb I discovered a few angles that I hadn't noticed, such as the bottom of the door and the snick of a step in the lower corner. I realized I needed them to allow the viewer's eye to enter into the doorway. I also noticed that I needed to pay attention to the scale of the door versus the dark area next to it, to make sure they remain interesting shapes.

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:03 PM
(LOL! Patience is a virtue dearie... Here it comes.)

Next is the value map. For this I used an enlargement of my photo, which I printed on white card stock, then placed a piece of copy paper over the top, held it to the window and traced very quickly and loosely the outline of the shapes. This allowed me to see even more of the details, such as the placement of the flowers and the branch hanging into the dark area.

I find that this helps my beginning students understand values, the lightness and darkness of the colors. Value is the TV with the color turned off. Ricky and Lucy were in living color in real life but on TV we understand them by their values. If we didn't organize color by value we never could have understood that Lucy was stuffing chocolates in her mouth or Ricky was playing the congas.

Doing this map also shows you how the values are masses, not just colors. The darks form a shape, as do the mediums and the lights.

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:12 PM
I also used the computer to blur the photo, to enhance the understanding that I don't need line to make a value map. This way my students begin to see that it isn't drawing that makes a painting--though drawing skills enhance it. The underlying abstraction of shapes is far more basic than drawing skills, however.

Dyin
01-11-2004, 06:12 PM
ohhhhh....so THAT'S what patience is!!! lol...like the value done at the window bit...

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:15 PM
I'm hoping you aren't bored stupid yet... Here's my underdrawing. I used a 9x12" piece of Wallis paper, which I toned with a layer of pale gray pastel that I rubbed in thouroughly with a foam brush. Then I used extra soft thin vine charcoal (my students always tease me for telling them so often that they need to get charcoal with all four words: extra, soft, thin, vine.)

Following my value map I laid out the value on the paper, which is a very simple process after all this planning!

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:22 PM
The next step is the first layer of color. I loosely laid in the colors, while at my class. They always seem to enjoy seeing this process, which allows me to be more adventurous. I'm not interested in any details at this point. I just try to find the right colors, using the photo as inspiration and the values for guidance. There are probably four colors in the wall in the upper right corner: yellow, blue, pink and green, all in the same value. Also notice the orange in the door. It was just getting too turquoise for my taste, so I grabbed a complement in the same value to modulate it a little.

Dark_Shades
01-11-2004, 06:23 PM
Im listening Dee, Ima listening :D

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:32 PM
ohhhhh....so THAT'S what patience is!!! lol...like the value done at the window bit...

Yes, the perfect analogy! :cool:

Next comes the second layer of color...and this is as far as I've gotten. I usually need a few days to mull over what else needs doing.

In this one I further refined the greens and shortened the branch that hangs into the dark area, as well as the one above the doorway. I had a lot of fun with the colors int eh archway, too, adding blues and violets to make the light. The delicate work on the stones to the right are simply done with the charcoal. I also added a bushy shape on the left side because I wanted to enhance that shape.

As soon as I have more to show you I'll put it here. I hope it's helps make you all think about shapes. I find that planning a painting, doing an underdrawing, allows me a freedom to paint that I wouldn't have otherwise. It's as if when I plan values I'm free to play with color. I know that in this example I haven't played as much as with some others, having stuck to the photo's colors more, however I assure you that you can play with color using this theory even more!

(Now, did I attach this photo or not? I can't seem to tell. Hmmm... well, I'll post this and see if it's there, then if not I'll add the picture.)

Deborah

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:34 PM
Ah, now I see how to tell! Here's the second layer of color.

Let me know what you think--and any other ideas you have for how to teach value massing.

Deborah

Charles Perera
01-11-2004, 06:38 PM
Deborrah,

This is very interesting. I happened to visit the WC and this captured my attention. I am really looking for more of it.

Thankyou,
Charles

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:39 PM
Wow--what a surprise to find your addition Phyllis! Thanks for sharing this great shot! I meant to go back to the library and find who shot it, but you saved me the trouble. Many thanks again...

D-S I hardly consider you a beginner but I love that you're here listening. I could use any feedback you have for me!

Deborah

ArtsiePhartsie
01-11-2004, 06:42 PM
Thank you for that wonderful lesson! I hope one day to find a teacher like yourself near home. (Toronto) Your students are so lucky!!!

I'm flying to California tomorrow for 10 days of painting. It turns out I will be having lessons with 2 great teachers!


Arlene Origani
http://www.ojaiart.org/origoni/

And

Bert Collins http://www.ojaistudioartists.com/artists_pages/collins.html

I can't wait to get there!!!!

~Artsie

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:43 PM
Deborrah,

This is very interesting. I happened to visit the WC and this captured my attention. I am really looking for more of it.

Thankyou,
Charles

Thanks for your comments, Charles. As soon as I have more I'll post it, I promise. I usually need to look at a painting for a while at this stage, just to see its strengths and weaknesses. I find if I change things too soon I sometimes take out what works in the desire to make the thing too much like the photo, instead of letting it be a painting first. The distance of time lets me see it as a painting first.

Deborah

Dyin
01-11-2004, 06:46 PM
Hey, I rated this thread....could you others do it too, please??? This will be a good one for the library. Dee...very nice....and thanks for taking the time to do this.

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:46 PM
Thank you for that wonderful lesson! I hope one day to find a teacher like yourself near home. (Toronto) Your students are so lucky!!!

I'm flying to California tomorrow for 10 days of painting. It turns out I will be having lessons with 2 great teachers!

~Artsie

Glad you're enjoying the lesson. I'm blessed to have loyal and willing students, believe me.

Have a great trip, Artsie. :D Sounds like you'll have a lot to chew on... Share the results with us when you get back!

Deborah

ArtsiePhartsie
01-11-2004, 06:51 PM
Thanks....

I rated this thread too...great stuff!!!!

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 06:55 PM
See what I mean about encouragement? Thanks for rating it.
:D
Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
01-11-2004, 07:01 PM
Oh, Dee, I am so glad you made this into a Thread on it's own. I just loved reading through the WIP and the accompanying photos will be a huge help for all of us. :clap:

Kathryn Wilson
01-11-2004, 07:04 PM
Okay, I give, where do I rate this Thread :confused:

:D Yup, I found it.

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 07:15 PM
Okay, I give, where do I rate this Thread :confused:

:D Yup, I found it.

It took a little searching but look at the bar along the top and find 'rate this thread', where there is a drop down box. Hm, guess I should find out what rating you gave it! LOL... Where does it tell that? It used to be on the pastel forum list of threads but now...? (Still lost a bit here!)

Deborah

DGrau
01-11-2004, 07:16 PM
Very nicely explained..simple and straight forward. I especially liked the way you blurred the photo to show that it is values which distinguish one part from another, something which I think is a common trap for many...drawing lines then filling in like a coloring book.
Rateing for you :o)

Dyin
01-11-2004, 07:21 PM
I didn't know you could see the ratings...the way it used to work once it got five excellents it got the 5 star rating...and they move those to the library eventually...

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 07:21 PM
Very nicely explained..simple and straight forward. I especially liked the way you blurred the photo to show that it is values which distinguish one part from another, something which I think is a common trap for many...drawing lines then filling in like a coloring book.
Rateing for you :o)

Thank you. I'm really glad it's been somewhat helpful... You're right, it's so easy to think of a painting as 'paint by numbers', although I have to say that painting by number when I was 10 was a great learning experience for me! I suddenly saw how to make colors into shapes. However, there's a time to go farther, isn't there? It isn't the edges, it's the masses, sometimes defined sharply and sometimes not.

Deborah

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 07:24 PM
I didn't know you could see the ratings...the way it used to work once it got five excellents it got the 5 star rating...and they move those to the library eventually...

Oh, is that how it worked? Hm, now I see. I just saw the five stars! Learn something new every day. I just clicked on the 'rating' line above the threads on the forum page and saw a list of articles... Interesting. That's a great way to find things others have found valuable too.

Thanks for explaining it to me, Dyin.
Deborah

Dyin
01-11-2004, 07:31 PM
lol...well, you teach us the hard stuff like blocking values etc and I'll contribute on the easy stuff like rating lol! Glad it got the 5 stars...it will help a lot of people!

Merethe T
01-11-2004, 07:41 PM
Wonderful thread!

I'm a beginner in pastels, struggling with colors and how they act, so this is very helpfull! So much to learn....

Thank you!!!

Deborah Secor
01-11-2004, 10:30 PM
Wonderful thread!

I'm a beginner in pastels, struggling with colors and how they act, so this is very helpfull! So much to learn....

Thank you!!!

Welcome, Cravia. Glad you've joined us here. You'll have a lot of fun with pastels, I'm sure. There is a lot to learn--and a lot of folks here who share what they know. It's a very generous group.

Deborah

Meisie
01-12-2004, 04:23 AM
Deborah, you explain it all so well. Thank you....and that painting is already looking just beautiful!
Meisie

rafi
01-12-2004, 05:16 AM
This is a great lesson. It should go in the archive.

Rafi

Madder
01-12-2004, 05:41 AM
Hi Dee,
I just gave this five stars. Really, really helpful.
Thanks a lot
Madder

aurora70
01-12-2004, 07:14 AM
:clap: Thanks so much Dee for posting this...it was incredibly helpful! I find sometimes that I get stuck with my paintings and don't know where to go at a certain point. I think I'll try this value planning and see if it frees me up to play with color. Great lesson!!

sundiver
01-12-2004, 10:09 AM
I'm loving this. I just taught the expression "thumbnails" to my grade sevens this morning. Tomorrow I'l tell them to make them the size of a credit card! And if you don't mind I'll borrow your Ricky and Lucy analogy- only for 12-year-olds, Homer and Lisa will be more appropriate:D.

Deborah Secor
01-12-2004, 10:21 AM
This is from last week's weekly sketch thread but I thought it really belonged here--so I've transplanted it. Hope that's okay E-J! She asked:

I would also like to know WHY exactly you do these tonal thumbnails ... my problem is that I can see how you've established where all the areas of dark and light go - but then what? If it's not right, what do you do? Presumably you can't just make the shadow areas less dark or change their shape, so is it then simply a matter of ditching that composition completely and finding a new one?

This is a very good point. Making changes is the next thing to be addressed. I think maybe that would also deserve its own thread, but just to answer it here, the fact is that you can and should often just make the shadow areas less dark or change their shape. What I mean is, you should use the value mapping to 1) analyze the accuracy of the image (in the case of the photo of Giverny, the placement of the arch and doorway) and 2) examine the values (lightness or darkness) using the photo. However, you can also 3) analyze the massing of the values to see if they have become a pleasing or awkward shape altogether and 4) change those masses into a more interesting and motivating set of shapes to make a more successful underlying abstraction, which in turn may become a more successful painting. To do this it's a good idea to turn your drawing on its side or upside down, to look at it in a mirror, to view it from an oblique angle, and various other exercises you can do to analyze what's working and why.

I'm adding the sketch on its side. Look at it as shapes and values massed together and see if there's a place where it could be stronger! (There always is, I think, but for this thread I won't go any further with changes...)

I really think this needs to become its own thread someday! I'll see what I can do to make it interesting and answer it more fully. Thanks so much for asking. (Wheels have begun turning in my little teacher's mind already...now all I need it the time to do it! This pesky writing job sometimes gets in the way. LOL)

Deborah

Oh, and thank you all so much for your encouraging comments! I love teaching and I'm more than happy to try to put things here now and then that are somewhat basic. I only became a teacher to advanced students in the last two or three years, and have far more experience teaching those new to pastels. Glad you like it.
D.

meowmeow
01-12-2004, 11:05 AM
THis is a super thread! Thank you so much for taking the time to do it, Deborah.
We all need help with value and shape....well, I mean most of us! I should speak for myself! :D But this is such a basic thing. I know when my paintings fail it is usually because of these issues.
Gave you an excellent rating too!
Thanks!!

Sandy

pencils4me
01-12-2004, 12:02 PM
Certainly a wonderful thread! Great for those like me lurking around for more pastel information.

It's nice to see the same value "map" applied to pastels that I use for my colored pencil work now, but why is it I find thumbnails so frustrating? ;) I guess I should be more diciplined in my advanced planning, no matter what the medium.

Thank you for the lesson and letting us see this beautiful piece come to life.

TJ

angeline
01-12-2004, 02:27 PM
Wonderfully informative........ty

cjkelly
01-12-2004, 04:58 PM
Deborah, this is a great lesson! I love it when I can learn new stuff in such detail - when it is not taken for granted that the students already know some of the steps and logic.
Thank You

cj

lisilk
01-12-2004, 05:56 PM
Terrific lesson. Thanks so much for starting this. :clap: Blurring the photo a great idea.

Anxiously awaiting the next steps.

Cheers,

Li

Mo.
01-12-2004, 08:41 PM
Dee!! I'm sorry to be so long winded in getting to this thread, I've just read it from page to page, it's such an inspiring and educational thread, can I twist your arm and ask you please to make this an article, it would not require that much more work than what you have already done, please think about it, I'll give you all the help you need should you need it. Please let me know, hope your answer is yes. :)

Mo.:)

Deborah Secor
01-12-2004, 09:38 PM
Dee!! I'm sorry to be so long winded in getting to this thread, I've just read it from page to page, it's such an inspiring and educational thread, can I twist your arm and ask you please to make this an article, it would not require that much more work than what you have already done, please think about it, I'll give you all the help you need should you need it. Please let me know, hope your answer is yes. :)

Mo.:)

Oh! Um...well...I write articles all the time so... I guess so. What does that involve? I'd need more than 'help', I'd need you to practically take me there--wherever there is! :confused: I guess you're an official guide though, so that's good.

I've enjoyed so many of the articles and shopped through them for teaching ideas, among other things. Being there would be kinda cool!

Thanks for asking Mo.
Deborah

MarshaSavage
01-13-2004, 07:30 AM
Dee,
Thanks for the step-by-step demonstration regarding the values. This is exactly what I have been teaching my students for the last year. They are just beginning to "really" understand what I have been prodding them to do. You've done a great job of putting it into words.

And . . . Phyllis did a great job of finding this scene and photographing it for us to use. Just shows you don't have to paint some complicated scenery to get a good painting!

Looking forward to the finish of this piece.

Mo.
01-13-2004, 12:19 PM
Oh! Um...well...I write articles all the time so... I guess so. What does that involve? I'd need more than 'help', I'd need you to practically take me there--wherever there is! :confused: I guess you're an official guide though, so that's good.

I've enjoyed so many of the articles and shopped through them for teaching ideas, among other things. Being there would be kinda cool!

Thanks for asking Mo.
Deborah

Yes it would be kinda cool to have you there, I have to log out now but will Pm you a little later, it will be a doddle for you Dee! :)

Mo.

Deborah Secor
01-13-2004, 12:49 PM
doddle: Noun. An easy task. {Informal}

I just had to find out what this one was! Thought I'd include the URL for English Slang and Colloquialisms for those who are not in the UK!
http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/index.htm (http://)
(has a lot of definitions I don't want to know the meaning of, but some I do... so, somewhat useful!)

I don't know that it will be a doddle, as you say! LOL We'll see. But thanks.

Deborah

Meisie
01-13-2004, 02:18 PM
Oh yes please! An article!! :D
I'm just so enjoying this thread!!! Thank you.
Meisie

Deborah Secor
02-02-2004, 02:58 PM
Here's the finished painting! I don't have a title for it yet--what do you suggest?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Feb-2004/23609-color3.jpg

I finally found time to work on the painting and write up the article. I've submitted it for approval, so maybe it will be published sometime...

This one has been fun. Here's what I ended up changing:

First I worked on the shadows along the wall in the upper right hand corner and to the left of the doorway, softening them and defining the shapes.

The flowers on the center branch are the biggest new addition. As I looked at the branch hanging into the dark shape of the shadowed doorway it was so clearly the focal point, yet it disappointed me. It seemed empty, so naturally I added some flowers to it to give it a reason to be there. It had to be one or three, and I chose three because of the size of the branch and its location. It seemed to be a younger branch that wouldn’t be heavy with older blossoms.

I worked to refine all the flowers, adding a suggestion of their individual shapes using the charcoal, as well as a few bright white highlights. I refined the dark foliage around all the flowers, and then spent a little time reshaping the plant standing in the left fore so that it arched slightly more, and adding some highlights to the triangular plant to the left side. I added a bit more texture to the door, playing with the color a little (but that orange is still there), and corrected the angle of the bottom of the door, as well as improving the shapes of the shadows cast from the little plant on the right side of it. I made almost no changes to the inside of the archway, the shadowed areas, or the rockwork above and beside the doorway.

Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
02-02-2004, 03:05 PM
"Invitation" is what sprung to mind - but after looking at it for awhile, I thought - "Beyond the light"

I love it - it has such a warm, welcoming feel to the painting. Did you leave the detail out of the plants on the left bottom front for a reason - just wanted to mention.

Thanks for doing this for us!

Deborah Secor
02-02-2004, 03:11 PM
Ah yes, Kat, I should have mentioned that--good point. I found that the warm yellow-greens and the size of the storkes gave the impression of that foreground plant without a lot of detail. I was afraid if I overdetailed that area it would really detract from the punch of the middle ground where the center of interest lies. I've never been interested in much detail anyway, and often try to avoid doing it if I don't think it will add... :rolleyes:

Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
02-02-2004, 03:39 PM
Ah yes, Kat, I should have mentioned that--good point. I found that the warm yellow-greens and the size of the storkes gave the impression of that foreground plant without a lot of detail. I was afraid if I overdetailed that area it would really detract from the punch of the middle ground where the center of interest lies. I've never been interested in much detail anyway, and often try to avoid doing it if I don't think it will add... :rolleyes:

Deborah

I'm always a big believer in the "less is more" theory - but I've heard others here say it makes sense that the foreground objects have more detail. I'm with you on this one. I want to look at the door, its shadow and the vine w/flowers. :D

Deborah Secor
02-02-2004, 03:51 PM
I know, it's always a tough decision whether to put more in the foreground or not. I really ascribe to the theory that the detail should reside in and near the focal point. Still, from painting to painting it varies, doesn't it? I guess that's why it's art and not science!

Deborah

bcraver
02-02-2004, 05:27 PM
I usually need to look at a painting for a while at this stage, just to see its strengths and weaknesses. I find if I change things too soon I sometimes take out what works in the desire to make the thing too much like the photo, instead of letting it be a painting first. The distance of time lets me see it as a painting first.

This comment is a gem! For me at least, it is a good reminder, I think it will have to go up on the studio wall!

A very nice thread, thank you Dee!

Dyin
02-02-2004, 05:30 PM
I remember wondering if the overhang flowers would detract from the door...not to worry! It's lovely and just right. How'd about The Keep's Door...sounds mysterious...what's inside this lovely entrance??? I adore the color of the door too. :clap:

meowmeow
02-02-2004, 05:43 PM
This is lovely Deborah! It looks so warm and inviting...and mysterious at the same time.


Sandy

Meisie
02-02-2004, 05:46 PM
Beautiful....I love all parts of this!
Sigh..........
Meisie

Deborah Secor
02-02-2004, 06:03 PM
Thanks to all of you. I had fun constructing this one. I use these techniques in my teaching a lot and writing things out makes me think more.

Barbara, I missed putting that comment into the article and think it belongs there. I'm glad you renewed my acquaintance with it! I really do believe time helps me see better. It's like a baby--when it's a brand new baby painting I'm just so thrilled to have made it that Ican't see its faults, then when it gets a little older I notice the diaper needs to be changed!

I like all your title suggestions. Hmmm. Maybe Keep's Shadows...I don't know. (My husband always accuses me of using too much alliteration.)

Deborah

ExpressiveAngie
02-02-2004, 06:49 PM
I have so much to learn and I am so lucky folks like you are here and willing to let me see such wonderful WIP's as this. Thank you.
Angie

pampe
02-02-2004, 07:17 PM
great thread, THANKS!


It's the first several steps I like to skip :(

That's why mine don't look like this :crying:

E-J
02-05-2004, 05:30 PM
This is from last week's weekly sketch thread but I thought it really belonged here--so I've transplanted it. Hope that's okay E-J! She asked:

I would also like to know WHY exactly you do these tonal thumbnails ... my problem is that I can see how you've established where all the areas of dark and light go - but then what? If it's not right, what do you do? Presumably you can't just make the shadow areas less dark or change their shape, so is it then simply a matter of ditching that composition completely and finding a new one?

This is a very good point. Making changes is the next thing to be addressed. I think maybe that would also deserve its own thread, but just to answer it here, the fact is that you can and should often just make the shadow areas less dark or change their shape. What I mean is, you should use the value mapping to 1) analyze the accuracy of the image (in the case of the photo of Giverny, the placement of the arch and doorway) and 2) examine the values (lightness or darkness) using the photo. However, you can also 3) analyze the massing of the values to see if they have become a pleasing or awkward shape altogether and 4) change those masses into a more interesting and motivating set of shapes to make a more successful underlying abstraction, which in turn may become a more successful painting.

Oh! I've only just found this thread (duh! a bit late), complete with my transplanted question :D Thanks for responding, Deborah. I'm off to read your finished article!

binkie
02-05-2004, 08:33 PM
That's a great lesson!!!! I definitely am going to give it a try. I hope you'll post more lessons in the future.

Khadres
02-06-2004, 12:33 AM
I really do believe time helps me see better. It's like a baby--when it's a brand new baby painting I'm just so thrilled to have made it that Ican't see its faults, then when it gets a little older I notice the diaper needs to be changed!

Deborah

There's the quote that goes on MY wall! :D

I don't know why but "The Abbot's House" popped into my head....makes it seem like it belongs to someone. Could actually be anyone's name....

This thread is FANTASTIC! I'm about ready to move to Albuquerque just to take your classes!

Sooz

Deborah Secor
02-08-2004, 05:20 PM
I loved all your title suggestions but I finally settled on one today. I'm calling it 'Sanctuary'. I think your thoughts on it's being the Abbot's door made me think of a church, and since it is a garden, so often a sanctuary for people--and this is after Monet's garden, so a place that's set aside as very special--I just decided this title fit. Thanks for all your help!

Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
02-08-2004, 05:24 PM
I loved all your title suggestions but I finally settled on one today. I'm calling it 'Sanctuary'. I think your thoughts on it's being the Abbot's door made me think of a church, and since it is a garden, so often a sanctuary for people--and this is after Monet's garden, so a place that's set aside as very special--I just decided this title fit. Thanks for all your help!

Deborah


Perfect!