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View Full Version : "Return To Feeder Creek" a step by step


Marc Hanson
04-15-2005, 05:34 PM
I returned to the place that I did an 8x10 last weekend to do a larger version. Day wasn't quite the same, it was a brighter light and the color was more washed out than the other day. But it's a 10 minute walk in with all of the gear so I painted.

As you can see for this one I've brought the half box Julian instead of the Open Box M. Reason is that my 10x12 OBM won't hold a painting on the board that's this big, and I like to have a larger palette/mixing area on larger pieces. My palette is a 12x16 piece of plexi taped to a 1/4" piece of hardboard with a sheet of gray Canson sandwiched inbetween. This fits into a Sta-Wet sealed palette and keeps the palette and paint from getting all over everything. This slips into my back pack and then I sit it on the drawer and held it secure with a little plastic ratchet clamp. I really like this setup for larger pieces. The full Julian is too heavy to carry this far up a trail, a good compromise.

I was forced due to the direction of the light to paint with sun on the palette and the panel. But I also wore the sunglasses...man am I glad that I'm over that one! The glasses make all the difference, and I notice that I don't run into the problem of color that's too dark and cool now wearing them when painting with sun on the palette. So a double benefit, better color and no headache!

1-Set up
2-Applied wash to kill the white
3-The initial drawing
4-The block in of major shapes
5-Starting to paint in all of the trees

"Return To Feeder Creek", oil/canvas, 14x18, 3 hours! A long one for me. I've added Venetian Red, Perm Alizarin and Transparent Red Oxide to my palette. Pretty comfortable having those stonger transparent colors for darks. They'll probably stay in addition to the P red med, Cad lem yell, and Ult Blue.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Apr-2005/37743-Return-to-Feeder-Creek-oil-.jpg

A couple of details-
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Apr-2005/37743-RFC-detail-6.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Apr-2005/37743-RFC-detail.jpg

nancymae
04-15-2005, 05:48 PM
WOW Marc!! Thank you for posting your progress photos!! Love your violet background/trees/brush! That green really makes the banks pop too! Love the mood of your paintings! Thank you soo much for this treat!

Nancy

mnpainter
04-15-2005, 05:51 PM
Beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 hours to master a painting as so, take it and run :D I love the color, the composition and the brushwork. One of my more favorite plein airs of yours not saying the others arent! Thanks for the step by step!

Ben

WTPDOSA
04-15-2005, 06:05 PM
Thanks Marc!

I'm taking a moments break from the books (an essay by Hans Jonas about the epistemological differences between St. Thomas Aquinas and Francis Bacon) to rejuvinate my senses with occasional W/C peeks. 18 units in philosophy is overwhelming in what one has to read and write on. Only a month to go:clap:

I like this piece very much.
Do you mind answering my question about why 3 new choices of earth/reds? Thanks again for your share!!! :wave:

israelyang
04-15-2005, 06:12 PM
Marc
this is so great, thank you so much for posting, I learned a lot.

NorWestPainter
04-15-2005, 06:31 PM
excellent composition. The creek zig zags you into the painting. The large purple chevron shape pushes you back down, and all balanced by the verts of the trees.

Wow.

BTW, what kind of paper is that and do you prime it? I noticed there isn't a layer of priming over the tape, whenever I've done it that way the thinner would melt the glue on the tape and make a mess.

JanB
04-15-2005, 06:47 PM
Thanks for taking the time to do another wonderful step by step. I learn something every time. What sort of brush (brand, size, shape) do you use for the thinnest tree branches. I just lost my rigger which I wasn't very happy with, on Thursday. One tremendous problem I have with trees is getting those delicate twigs, 90% of them problem I believe is wrong tool, and perhaps not the right consistency of paint. I always hate my trees beacuse they look too heavy and klunky, same goes for under brush and meadow grasses etc. they lack delicacy and refinement. Thanks for any suggestions.

Marc Hanson
04-15-2005, 07:00 PM
Thank you all, I really appreciate the kind words. This was a big one to tackle with all of the bare trees and branches. I had to really dig in to stick it out. It's not the kind of thing I pray to paint...if you know what I mean. :wink2:

Tom-Congratulations on your study...18 units in philosophy!!!! Yikes. What's the end result, ie position?
I've added the venetian red so that I can get a grip on these dried grasses we have now. And the PAliz and Trans Oxide red to go with the Ult Blue so that I can get some transparency in the mixes. Just perm red med, and ult blue goes opaque right away. I like to have transparency in the darks even if I end up painting over it. I could get away without the T red oxide, I only use a touch of it now and then, but it's a fast way to warm colors.

Norwest - This is AE 359 canvas taped to the backing board. The masking tape I'm using is so stuck tight that I can't get it all off the board. Probably a cheap variety. Not one that's recommended for masking your walls when painting, I know that. I like to use canvas this way, could be from my early years painting more with watercolor and gouache. When I mount the canvas to board first(I'll now glue this down when dry), the mounting makes the nubs of the canvas stick out more in a, what's the word, prominent way that I dislike. This way I get a little stretch to the canvas when I tape it down, and it's quick to put together. If a piece is worth it, it's nothing to glue it to hardboard later. Hope that answers the question.

Marc Hanson
04-15-2005, 07:10 PM
Thanks for taking the time to do another wonderful step by step. I learn something every time. What sort of brush (brand, size, shape) do you use for the thinnest tree branches. I just lost my rigger which I wasn't very happy with, on Thursday. One tremendous problem I have with trees is getting those delicate twigs, 90% of them problem I believe is wrong tool, and perhaps not the right consistency of paint. I always hate my trees beacuse they look too heavy and klunky, same goes for under brush and meadow grasses etc. they lack delicacy and refinement. Thanks for any suggestions.
Thanks Jan, I think your trees look pretty good but I also have the same feeling about my trees, so I'm sympathetic. On this I use 2 brushes both Robert Simmons 'Signet' brights size 7 and 5. When these brights are in good shape, and have been used for awhile they form a knife edge when 'loaded' with paint. To load the brush for drawing the trees/branches, I sometimes push the front edge of the brush into a pile of paint. That gives plenty of paint on the brush to come off when drawing. Then, and this is the only way I know to do this, don't hold the brush so that the end of the bristles poke at the painting surface. Hold it up close to the ferrule with the thumb and forefinger, like the 'proper' people hold a tea cup with the little pinky sticking out. Then I just let the weight of the brush against the canvas do the work. As you pull the brush down, for instance, with the brush leaning against the surface, the line is pretty easy to control. I plan the path I'm taking out first sometimes taking a dry run without touching the surface. Using it this way pulling up also works. Maybe I'll take some photos of this to make it easier to understand.

Bruce Newman
04-15-2005, 09:54 PM
You do a great deal for our PA Forum community by taking the time to creat and post these demos, Marc. I really appreciate what you do. Oh, and another wonderful painting, too! :)

coh
04-15-2005, 10:34 PM
Marc,

Wonderful painting, and amazing that you were able to do it on that scale in
3 hours on location. I suspect that painting nearly the same scene the other
day helped in that regard, as you knew what worked and what didn't. Also,
as others have mentioned, thanks for taking the time to take the step-by-step
pictures, they are very helpful. Although I REALLY want to see how you
transform step 4 into step 5...I can often get paintings to the step 4 stage
but then I make a mess when I try to add in the details. Not sure if the
underlying paint is too thick or wet or if I don't wield the brush delicately
enough. When's that video coming out? :wink2:

Interesting that you've added colors...I was out a couple of days ago and
found that the 3-colors weren't doing it for me, I had to add 3 or 4 to get
what I wanted. Time to start experimenting...

oramasha
04-15-2005, 10:37 PM
You do a great deal for our PA Forum community by taking the time to creat and post these demos, Marc. I really appreciate what you do. Oh, and another wonderful painting, too! :)

Absolutely! My eyes are enjoying the dance around all the zigzags, too. Just stunning.

Marc Hanson
04-15-2005, 10:49 PM
Hi Bruce and Lisa, All I'm doing is what I love to do...and then getting to talk about it! I'm glad it is of some help to you. Thanks.

Chris,
Thanks for the comments! :D
Really, the tough parts are steps 1 to 4. From that point on it's just a matter of filling in the subtleties and textures. Lot's of layering of close valued/ colored lines and strokes with a 'branch-like' character. But if the previous building blocks are done well enough, steps 4.1,4.2,4.3,4......to the final result, are as they say...just foot work.

coh
04-15-2005, 10:54 PM
Well, I've been thinking about it a little more since I wrote the post and I'm
thinking that I may start getting impatient at step 4, rushing color mixes and
paint application which, of course, quickly leads to a mess. Partially because
I've spent so long getting to that point (more time than you, I'm sure), maybe
getting tired, whatever. Just one of those hurdles that need to be overcome.

Maybe I don't have the patience or temperment to become really good at
this! That would be unfortunate but I guess time will tell...

Marc Hanson
04-15-2005, 11:12 PM
Well, I've been thinking about it a little more since I wrote the post and I'm
thinking that I may start getting impatient at step 4, rushing color mixes and
paint application which, of course, quickly leads to a mess. Partially because
I've spent so long getting to that point (more time than you, I'm sure), maybe
getting tired, whatever. Just one of those hurdles that need to be overcome.

Maybe I don't have the patience or temperment to become really good at
this! That would be unfortunate but I guess time will tell...
Well, I certainly hope that isn't the case. But only you know. I was getting plenty worn out, hot sun, 2x as long as I normally spend on a painting, bugs are out, knees hurting. But once there's so much time, paint and brain stress invested, how can you quit or not see it through? One of my goals is to start doing large plein air paintings, probably not all in one sitting. But I need to start working my way up the size ladder to do it. These are going to be my spring training excercises. On a relative scale of painting experience and practice, this is putting me through the paces, much like you and others who are also struggling occasionally with your work.
I need to start running again. :D

Kitty Wallis
04-15-2005, 11:52 PM
Do you work in a larger size using pastel in plein air pieces? Or is it the same size constraint for both.

I'm hoping it's the same, but I plan to start my plein air oil pieces small, about 9x10, just in case it's all I can handle at first.

Marc Hanson
04-16-2005, 10:01 AM
Do you work in a larger size using pastel in plein air pieces? Or is it the same size constraint for both.

I'm hoping it's the same, but I plan to start my plein air oil pieces small, about 9x10, just in case it's all I can handle at first.

No, 11x14, 12x16 is about as large as I paint with pastel in the field. But, that may change too. I'm growing into the idea that using the outdoors as a final studio instead of a 'sketch' location is worthwile pursuing. If those old guys like Chase, Hibbard and Redfield could do it, there's no reason not to, right?

Brad M.
04-16-2005, 10:45 AM
Wonderful!! :clap:
You've painted this scene several times and each one gets better. I particularly like the cluster of branches at the end of the creek and the edge of the hill in this one.
Thanks for the tree explaination. I was also curious about that. A demo would be greatly appreciated.

LarrySeiler
04-16-2005, 11:29 AM
great painting as usual Marc...
I especially have enjoyed of late looking how you grace the surface of your painting with the lacey delicate sense of three-dimensional branches. Seems a bit of necessity to play many of the other branches that go back down...happy to suggest their presence...but not much more so that these other finishing branches appear to come out at the viewer that much more.

Very nice...

Larry

oramasha
04-16-2005, 12:10 PM
Sorry if this question sounds naive, but I'm too curious not to ask. Is there a particular shade of sunglass lens that you recommend?

Lemonhead
04-16-2005, 01:16 PM
Fantastic Painting, I like the hints of green throughout!

Do you you use a palette knife for the twigs and long grass (as in the detail shots)? That is the part where I have the most problems, adding in the hints of detail, mainly hard crisp edges like twigs, grass, branches.

Thanks for the step-by-step also (right click-save into Mark H folder).

Marc Hanson
04-16-2005, 01:46 PM
Larry and Brad...Thanks.

Lisa, I don't know the shade's name but they're a neutral gray, not the yellow, or green. When I hold them down slightly to see with and without there's barely a shift. The shift that happens is slightly darker and grayer. Almost like the difference that you see when you roll down a lightly tinted car window. Important I think (I'm new at this) is to find a shade that doesn't influence color, only value. Though I guess with a colored lense you would compensate too, most of those lenses enhance value and color making it easier to see in some conditions. I'm not sure how that would work. Where as the neutral gray only subdues what you're seeing slightly.

Lemon H, thanks and you're welcome. Yes, I use a 3" and a 1" knife for a lot of that, then I hit it again with a brush if it gets to looking too 'knife-like'. On many of the branches in the woods I draw with the knife and bend it as I draw, arching the blade. Or just draw with the tip loaded with paint. If it gets too heavy or blobs show up, I hit it with the brush, scrape or rub with a finger...whatever it takes. I try to avoid ending up with it looking too obvious, that it's a knife that made the mark.

cunparis
04-16-2005, 06:02 PM
Well, I've been thinking about it a little more since I wrote the post and I'm
thinking that I may start getting impatient at step 4, rushing color mixes and
paint application which, of course, quickly leads to a mess. Partially because
I've spent so long getting to that point (more time than you, I'm sure), maybe
getting tired, whatever. Just one of those hurdles that need to be overcome.


Coh,

I was wondering the same thing. In fact every time I see a demo here or in a book, it seems that the steps between "4" & "5" are skipped over. And that's where I get stuck. But the more I think about it, and the more I struggle with it, the more I think it's really because my "4" isn't solid enough to move on. I was thinking again of Kevin MacPherson's book where he says to do 100 "starts" (and NOT finish them). He says if the start is wrong then the painting will just keep getting worse. I think he's right. But at the same time I just don't have the discipline to do starts without finishing them. But I'm thinking about it.


Maybe I don't have the patience or temperment to become really good at
this! That would be unfortunate but I guess time will tell...

Be aware of this kind of self-judging and negative thinking. There are many different styles of painting, some spend 1 hour on a painting, others 10-20 or more. Me I have a short attention span, 3 hours is my limit and even before 3 hours I start making stupid mistakes. Anyway, the only thing that will stop you from becoming really good at this is if you give trying! ;)

-Michael

Eugene Veszely
04-17-2005, 06:21 AM
Coh,

I was wondering the same thing. In fact every time I see a demo here or in a book, it seems that the steps between "4" & "5" are skipped over. And that's where I get stuck.

-Michael

I hate that too....that is the step I want to see the most images of!!! Yet it goes from "here is the block in" to "ta da finished painting!"....it annoys me greatly!! :)

judithj
04-17-2005, 09:16 AM
Thankyou Marc - this is a beautiful painting and the step by step was so helpful.

I am especially interested in the process holding the brush you mentioned - like a teacup - I was trying to understand what you ment and I am not sure I get it.

I am also really interested in how you use the pallet knife to paint the branches - I have not figured out how to do this. I thought that you would use the knife to paint straight lines holding it on the side. Using it to paint from the tip is something that I didn't even think about. Using it so that you press against it and there is a bend in the blade??? I gotta start playing with my knife.

Thanks again, Judith

Helen Zapata
04-17-2005, 11:01 AM
Just following along and enjoying this entire thread. Such a beautiful painting, Marc!

I found it interesting that you are using brights for your tree trunks. I recently discovered that I could make my best "lines with small brights. They are just so nicely "controllable". I need to get more.. I think my brights are actually chopped down filberts (I used to chop them up with a razor blade some years back.. don't ask.. long story.. haha)

Helen

coh
04-18-2005, 01:07 AM
Coh,

I was wondering the same thing. In fact every time I see a demo here or in a book, it seems that the steps between "4" & "5" are skipped over. And that's where I get stuck. But the more I think about it, and the more I struggle with it, the more I think it's really because my "4" isn't solid enough to move on. I was thinking again of Kevin MacPherson's book where he says to do 100 "starts" (and NOT finish them). He says if the start is wrong then the painting will just keep getting worse. I think he's right. But at the same time I just don't have the discipline to do starts without finishing them. But I'm thinking about it.
I appreciate your comments, Michael. It's almost like those math classes
where they say "the proof is trivial and left to the reader" Uh-huh! I
sometimes mess up the early steps and thus the "step 4" is no good, other
times I actually do the early steps well and then mess up after step 4.
Very rarely I do all the steps reasonably well.


Be aware of this kind of self-judging and negative thinking. There are many different styles of painting, some spend 1 hour on a painting, others 10-20 or more. Me I have a short attention span, 3 hours is my limit and even before 3 hours I start making stupid mistakes. Anyway, the only thing that will stop you from becoming really good at this is if you give trying! ;)

Ah, but the self-judging (and even some negative thinking) is part of who I
am, there's no getting around that unfortunately. I try to keep it under control
but sometimes it just sneaks out. Fortunately I am not alone as I see plenty
of others making similar comments about their work...

cunparis
04-18-2005, 01:39 AM
Ah, but the self-judging (and even some negative thinking) is part of who I
am, there's no getting around that unfortunately. I try to keep it under control
but sometimes it just sneaks out. Fortunately I am not alone as I see plenty
of others making similar comments about their work...

I used to do that, actually I still do but I do it less now. I find once I start judging my work it all goes downhill from there. A downward spiral. So lately I quit judging and just paint for fun. Like the painting is going in the trash afterwards so there is nothing to judge. But the trash bit can lead to sloppiness so another one is to pretend you have a 100 painting waiting list where people have already paid $1000 deposits for your paintings and now all you have to do is paint them. Whatever it takes to keep the judging at bay.

In my last painting my wife said there was something wrong with the perspective and then I noticed that I painted a row of windows in a horizontal line when they should be at slight angles to show the dimensions of the building. I started judging thinking "what an idiot!" but then I just painted over it, went to dinner and came back and painted them properly. The piece turned out pretty well and the slight variations in color from the color matching where I painted over made the building look more interesting! Not such an idiot after all! :)

For the step 4 to 5 idea.. what do you think of Kevin McPherson's doing 100 "starts" (and not finishing them)? I'm still debating, I want to take advantage of the summer and make some real paintings! So I was thinking of doing a few starts and a few paintings, and keeping the two separate. he didn't say 100 starts all in a row without any finishes at the same time.

-Michael

Donald_Smith
04-18-2005, 02:07 PM
Marc,

Great Painting! I really like the way you do so much with so little. I mean, the creek through the trees scene to begin with. It isn't a specatular view, just mildly interesting. But you take what little there is of interest in the scene, and turn it into a wonderfully captivating painting full of interest that catches the eye and keeps it.

Don

Yax
04-19-2005, 03:08 AM
Extraordinarily good work Marc. :clap: :clap: :clap:
Yax

Marc Hanson
04-19-2005, 11:54 AM
Michael, Chris and Eugene, What you're asking to see is best seen either in video or at a workshop. The last 25% of painting isn't as dramatic as the first 75% and as a still demo doesn't provide enough obvious change. I'd be here all day uploading images of that part of the painting to show the progress.
It's all buttoning up anyway. Many of my class demos stop at the point that you're mentioning. It's the initial building and composing stages that make the painting. It's like conceiving, writing, staging and performing a play. The actual performance is not worthy if the earlier steps aren't completed. The performance is only for the audience as far as the playwright is concerned. His or her art is in the writing, planning and so on.

Judith,
Thank you Judith. I've posted some photos that I hope help show the way of holding the brush that I mentioned. Also of the knife bending. I do use the knife on the edge, probably most of the time. Seldom find a need to use the flat side as I'm usually using it to make a sharper accent, not to apply flat areas of color. You can see in the photo that when I press it against the canvas (loaded with paint, loaded to the appropriate amount), I bend it. That can then be drawn across and make a curved line as long as the paint lasts.

Helen...thanks. Yes, brights are so much more controllable and they spread paint easier than a 'floppy' brush with longer hair.

Don and Yax-
Thanks to you both. I'm glad you enjoyed the demo.

Brad M.
04-19-2005, 11:58 AM
Those four pictures were worth at least 4,000 words!!
Thanks so much, Marc.

Marc Hanson
04-19-2005, 12:12 PM
Glad it helps Brad.
I forgot one. The others were more about how I hold the brush for tight control of drawing.
This one is the way I hold it letting the entire weight of brush and paint do the work. Using it this way allows paint from the loaded brush to flow off onto a layer of thicker paint. If I were to press too hard with a strong grip on the brush, then it pushes the bristles through the wet paint and doesn't leave the paint I want to apply on top of the wet layer.

midcoast
04-19-2005, 12:49 PM
AWESOME DUDE!!!! :clap: :clap:

Yet another gorgeous painting :) And again, I love the lead-in....

Nancy

James or Jimmy Jim
04-19-2005, 12:56 PM
Marc ... great demo, information and painting (I almost missed this thread).

I really liked to see the early steps, I'm a sucker for a nice wash, block-in. :D

I've always said that you should work on bigger canvases too. Big brushes plus big canvases = big bucks! :D

VERY good thread Marc!

Helen Zapata
04-19-2005, 01:15 PM
The pictures are great!! Thanks for taking the time.. it really helps to understand what you are doing!

Helen

judithj
04-19-2005, 02:25 PM
Hey Marc - thanks for the photos of how you hold the brush. These are VERY helpful. I tend to paint my trees like they grow - I paint them with the brush going up the trunk. I see you are going up and down - and that you are at times leaning your hand against the canvas - I assume you are doing this to steady your hand. Do you have problems with wet oil paint smudging? I have a DVD of Richard Schnidt using his cane for something to lean his hand against to steady it as he paints the exacting details. I have never done this but I have thought about trying it.

The thing I really love about the way you do trees is that they look like they are wood and they are really growing there - when I paint trees - they sometimes kind of look like seaweed.

I also find that when I add a few detail branches - they often end up looking pretty flat whereas your look like they are growing in space.

I did a painting yesterday that was inspired by this thread - I as not able to get the sense of depth that I admire in the painting in this demo and I was dissapointed with my effort.

I will try again soon.

Thanks again for this great teaching post.

-Judith

Brad M.
04-19-2005, 03:37 PM
Now that we've established this post as the "Marc Hanson branch tutorial" :D
How about showing us how you're able to do the same thing with pastels. Do you sharpen them to a point or use a sharp square edge?

BTW; I've used the same brush stroke for trees, but I never had the control to get what i want. I think it's the way you hold it up at the hilt that's key.

coh
04-19-2005, 10:02 PM
Michael, Chris and Eugene, What you're asking to see is best seen either in video or at a workshop. The last 25% of painting isn't as dramatic as the first 75% and as a still demo doesn't provide enough obvious change. I'd be here all day uploading images of that part of the painting to show the progress.
It's all buttoning up anyway. Many of my class demos stop at the point that you're mentioning. It's the initial building and composing stages that make the painting. It's like conceiving, writing, staging and performing a play. The actual performance is not worthy if the earlier steps aren't completed. The performance is only for the audience as far as the playwright is concerned. His or her art is in the writing, planning and so on.

Marc,

Thanks for providing those additional pictures, as Brad noted they are
very useful. And I don't know about the others, but I would never expect
you (or anyone else) to take enough still pics to show all the minor steps
along the way from phase 4 to phase 5.

I do, however, have to comment on your assertion that the last 25% of
the painting is just "buttoning up", which does make it sound like a trivial
step. Far from it! There are so many judgements to be made about color,
value, paint application, how many tree trunks and where to put them - and
then how to apply the paint (topic being discussed here)...in
a painting like this, in particular, this final step is absolutely crucial and it
is very easy to ruin all the preceding work, especially when working alla prima/
wet in wet.

Now, maybe you can claim that if the first 75% is done "properly" with an eye
for what is to come at the end, then the finishing steps are much easier. I
can believe that to a degree, and I suppose that's why many advise doing
lots of "starts". But regardless, one has to be able to finish as well as start.
In this case, I can see that the step 4 painting has a great structure,
color, values - but I wouldn't buy it and hang it on my wall at that point! The
"buttoning up" of step 5 is absolutely necesarry to complete the painting.

One thing I see on the latest close-up images is that your underlying paint
layer (what would be visible at stage 4) looks pretty darn thin. I think I
often get into trouble because I wind up with too much paint and then
try to paint things (like trees) over it. Very hard to do, even with a very
light touch, and I imagine it cause problems for lots of other novice painters.
Also, when you have long trees like these, you probably paint the trunk using
a series of short strokes, right? As opposed to trying to paint the whole trunk
with one brushload of paint, another thing I often absentmindedly start
doing and which seems to create a lot of mixing/dredging up of the lower
layer.

mnpainter
04-20-2005, 12:03 AM
The hands of a master reveal the most crucial parts to a painting~~~!!! and Marc, I thank you for taking the time to show us how it is that you make that magic happen on canvas!!! Thanks

Ben

Marc Hanson
04-20-2005, 12:05 AM
Marc,

Thanks for providing those additional pictures, as Brad noted they are
very useful. And I don't know about the others, but I would never expect
you (or anyone else) to take enough still pics to show all the minor steps
along the way from phase 4 to phase 5.

I do, however, have to comment on your assertion that the last 25% of
the painting is just "buttoning up", which does make it sound like a trivial
step. Far from it! There are so many judgements to be made about color,
value, paint application, how many tree trunks and where to put them - and
then how to apply the paint (topic being discussed here)...in
a painting like this, in particular, this final step is absolutely crucial and it
is very easy to ruin all the preceding work, especially when working alla prima/
wet in wet.

Now, maybe you can claim that if the first 75% is done "properly" with an eye
for what is to come at the end, then the finishing steps are much easier. I
can believe that to a degree, and I suppose that's why many advise doing
lots of "starts". But regardless, one has to be able to finish as well as start.
In this case, I can see that the step 4 painting has a great structure,
color, values - but I wouldn't buy it and hang it on my wall at that point! The
"buttoning up" of step 5 is absolutely necesarry to complete the painting.

One thing I see on the latest close-up images is that your underlying paint
layer (what would be visible at stage 4) looks pretty darn thin. I think I
often get into trouble because I wind up with too much paint and then
try to paint things (like trees) over it. Very hard to do, even with a very
light touch, and I imagine it cause problems for lots of other novice painters.
Also, when you have long trees like these, you probably paint the trunk using
a series of short strokes, right? As opposed to trying to paint the whole trunk
with one brushload of paint, another thing I often absentmindedly start
doing and which seems to create a lot of mixing/dredging up of the lower
layer.
Well Chris, I suggest you post the demo then. :wink2: Nothing about painting is "trivial" (your word not mine), from deciding where to paint to getting it back to the studio.

Van Gough
04-20-2005, 12:47 AM
Hi Marc,

Great painting.
Thanks for the demo.
In your description you said the painting is a oil on canvas.
But clearly you have something taped to a board.
Is it canvas? Did you stretch it later :confused:

Thanks
VG

Kitty Wallis
04-20-2005, 12:49 AM
Robert Henri said it this way: "The student is always eager to rush on to the less important parts."

I realize that isn't exactly on point, but it seemed to fit the discussion.

coh
04-20-2005, 12:59 AM
Robert Henri said it this way: "The student is always eager to rush on to the less important parts."

I guess I just don't get it. How is the ability to finish a painting any less
important than the ability to start one? Other than the fact that you have
to start well to end well, which is obvious (I think).

Marc Hanson
04-20-2005, 01:13 AM
VG, it's canvas taped to a board and at this size when it's dry I'll glue it to 1/4" hardboard. It's just a convenient way to use pieces of canvas that aren't large enough to stretch. If this 14x18 was to be stretched, I'd need at least 17x21 inches of canvas for standard stretchers. The piece wasn't large enough for that, so by taping I am able to make a larger image. I just like the way the canvas feels this way versus being taped down. It's sort of a combo stretch/glue feeling.

Kitty....Thanks for Henri's wisdom. Man those guys had the bases covered.

Chris, NO less important. But finishing is on the downhill side of the process. There is almost always a stage in a painting where one is ready to chuck the entire thing. That stage is usually early in the process, before a solidified idea of what all is going to happen in the paintiing has been resolved. Once past that stage, a painter's signature begins to emerge. How you finish a painting compared to how I or someone else finishes a painting is all about style. But, if I start a painting better than you, then my finish will excel.
In a demo I can't possibly show all of the little steps it takes for ME to get to the last stroke. I can easily show the step from a blank canvas to the wash, to the block-in, to the beginning of the adding of detail.
When I have a 'camera assistant'(never), I'll instruct that assistant to take photos of those steps.
As R.Schmid has said, "If I start with the eye, and get that exactly correct...then die at the easel...at least the part of the painting that I've done is done correctly." What else is there to understand?

coh
04-20-2005, 01:14 AM
Well Chris, I suggest you post the demo then. :wink2: Nothing about painting is "trivial" (your word not mine), from deciding where to paint to getting it back to the studio.
Well, I'll concede that "trivial" was probably too strong of a word, but the
phrase "It's all buttoning up anyway" makes it sound that way to me. I
didn't really think you felt that way.

As for the demo - if you send me one I'll be happy to post it! :) Otherwise it'll
be a long wait I fear...

Marc Hanson
04-20-2005, 01:27 AM
Well, I'll concede that "trivial" was probably too strong of a word, but the
phrase "It's all buttoning up anyway" makes it sound that way to me. I
didn't really think you felt that way.

As for the demo - if you send me one I'll be happy to post it! :) Otherwise it'll
be a long wait I fear...
Chris,
I really do feel that way. The only way I know to describe the painting process is according to how I read it from MY experience.

In the course of making a painting there is a point at which the stress of the start subsides, and I KNOW I'm on the downhill ride to the finish. The finsih is important, no less, no more. But How hard one is vs the other... I can definately say that in my case it's the beginning that gives me the most grief. If you find the last 25% to fill the bill then I accept that. But to me that portion is "Buttoning Up". That's not a demeaning term, it's a term of proportion. Compared to the start and mid stages I just don't find it to be as much a struggle, a struggle still, but less of one.

Kitty Wallis
04-20-2005, 01:42 AM
Chris, This is how I look at it, after years of teaching art: (Please do not think this relates to your work, I haven't formed this opinion by looking at your work)

The intent focus that starting a painting requires is uncomfortable after a short while. Most people, who haven't yet gotten their 'painting muscles' want to get past it to the stage they think of as finishing. They want to play in a place where all the hard parts are done. So they skip over early parts of the painting to get to that fun 'relaxing' place. They don't stay with getting the scale, the drawing, the space, the composition correct; going around the whole painting until the parts are all in the right place is how I think about it

Another quote that means a similar thing, from Herman Hesse: 'In beginnings dwell a magic force.' I use this one to express the quality of focus as the source of the painting's magic. Without that intense pouring of my self into the painting, beyond the simple act of doing it, it stays flat like stale beer.

I have to excert strong discipline to pull myself out of a painting while this uncomfortable stage still lingers. If I stay too long and play I will kill it. All my finishing strokes (details) are meant to be just the barest minimum for the realistic experience of the viewer.

Turner said: "I was putting in the details in my paintings until I realized I already had all I wanted in the first stages" ...paraphrase by me

I hope to get to Turner's realization before I die.

cunparis
04-20-2005, 05:05 AM
Thanks for providing those additional pictures, as Brad noted they are
very useful. And I don't know about the others, but I would never expect
you (or anyone else) to take enough still pics to show all the minor steps
along the way from phase 4 to phase 5.


I wouldn't ask him to, but if Marc made a DVD on the subject I certainly would buy it! :)


One thing I see on the latest close-up images is that your underlying paint
layer (what would be visible at stage 4) looks pretty darn thin. I think I
often get into trouble because I wind up with too much paint and then
try to paint things (like trees) over it. Very hard to do, even with a very
light touch, and I imagine it cause problems for lots of other novice painters.


This is definitely true for me. This is actually why I changed from oil to acrylic, I couldn't master painting wet on wet without mixing the colors. But now I find acrylics just don't have the same feel. I like them because they're practical with their drying time, especially plein air (no need for panel carier), but they don't mix and handle like oils. And I also think that the finished paintings are not as vibrant as oils but I'm working on that part. Anyway, I'd like to give oils a try again. I have learned to paint wet on wet with a knife, but I haven't mastered it with a brush yet.

Marc - some advice on how thick/thin your painting is at various stages would be helpful. And how you used mediums.

-Michael

Eugene Veszely
04-20-2005, 06:51 AM
Michael, Chris and Eugene, What you're asking to see is best seen either in video or at a workshop. The last 25% of painting isn't as dramatic as the first 75% and as a still demo doesn't provide enough obvious change. I'd be here all day uploading images of that part of the painting to show the progress.
It's all buttoning up anyway. Many of my class demos stop at the point that you're mentioning. It's the initial building and composing stages that make the painting. It's like conceiving, writing, staging and performing a play. The actual performance is not worthy if the earlier steps aren't completed. The performance is only for the audience as far as the playwright is concerned. His or her art is in the writing, planning and so on.


Thanks for the pictures Marc. I'd ask for my money back if I did a workshop then!! ;) :p

For me the last 25% of the painting is the most important and interesting...anyone can get the first 75% to look almost the same...but it is the last bit that makes one painting recognizable as a certain artists and it is that part I want to see the most and have the most trouble with myself!! The finishing is like ones signature and handwriting....and one woulnt put on a shirt without doing up the buttons! ;)

coh
04-20-2005, 10:39 AM
Chris,
I really do feel that way. The only way I know to describe the painting process is according to how I read it from MY experience.

In the course of making a painting there is a point at which the stress of the start subsides, and I KNOW I'm on the downhill ride to the finish. The finsih is important, no less, no more. But How hard one is vs the other... I can definately say that in my case it's the beginning that gives me the most grief. If you find the last 25% to fill the bill then I accept that. But to me that portion is "Buttoning Up". That's not a demeaning term, it's a term of proportion. Compared to the start and mid stages I just don't find it to be as much a struggle, a struggle still, but less of one.

Marc, thanks for the clarification, I do appreciate it. Perhaps it has something
to do with the level of experience - maybe down the road if I ever reach
your level of artistic and technical proficiency I'll feel the same way. But
for now we'll have to agree to disagree.

Hopefully this digression hasn't taken anything away from the wonderful
painting and demo that started it!

coh
04-20-2005, 10:43 AM
Chris, This is how I look at it, after years of teaching art: (Please do not think this relates to your work, I haven't formed this opinion by looking at your work)
Well, one could form many opinions by doing that!

The intent focus that starting a painting requires is uncomfortable after a short while. Most people, who haven't yet gotten their 'painting muscles' want to get past it to the stage they think of as finishing. They want to play in a place where all the hard parts are done. So they skip over early parts of the painting to get to that fun 'relaxing' place. They don't stay with getting the scale, the drawing, the space, the composition correct; going around the whole painting until the parts are all in the right place is how I think about it
OK, I think I can agree with the statement expressed that way. Thanks for
elaborating.

Marc Hanson
04-20-2005, 10:53 AM
Kitty, Great explanation from experience. I think that's part of the '?misunderstanding?' here. It's not that the finish isn't important...of course it is. But as you've clearly explained from a teachers (and that's where I'm coming from too) point of view, most unsuccessful paintings are lost early in the process.

Michael- A hard one to answer online in the written word. When you think about all of the art books, videos and other media out there, if it hasn't been satisfactorily answered by all of that then it's a safe bet that I can't do it here.

But, here's how I think about it as I'm working..."keep it as thin as needed for as long as possible. At the point that I know where the painting is heading, and I feel that a passage 'needs' thicker paint then it's time for it."

Practically speaking, keep the mediums and thinners to a minimum in the mixtures. Using the paint as it comes from the tube is the best way to manage it. If it needs to be thin in a passage use a short brush like a bright and scrub it into the surface. Then it isn't as slippery, it's a little drier, sets up faster and will take fresh paint on top better. Some painters set the paint out on an absorbant surface like a cheap paper plate to soak out some of the oil to help. I'm a little leary of that because I think that you upset the binding power of the paint, but it's one way.

On top of that...a DVD might be the only other way to do it.

Thanks for the pictures Marc. I'd ask for my money back if I did a workshop then!!

And I'd certainly give it back! But, most people who take a workshop from me feel that I know what they need and trust what I present to them. But if you're a paying customer, I'll show you whatever you want about painting...doesn't mean it'll help your particular situation however.

For me the last 25% of the painting is the most important and interesting...anyone can get the first 75% to look almost the same.
And if they're struggling, they keep getting that the same too. If I can get someone to get over the initial rush into the finish then they can resolve the last 25% successfully. If not then you're right, they'll get the first 75% to look the same Every Time!!!

Brad M.
04-20-2005, 11:09 AM
To chime in with my own experience, which illustrates this point about starts and finishes.
I consider myself a much better "studio" painter than plein air.
When I first started to paint en plein air the results were far from encouraging (i.e. they were lousy).
I found that my problem lied in trying to do a "finished" painting.
When I started to concentrait on the fundamentals; drawing, color, value... I found a great improvement. I don't worry about having a finished outdoor painting. If it is a very well executed "sketch", I am satisfied. I can finish to the point that time allows. But its the starting fundamentals that are important. I think that thinking about finishing makes artists go to that stage prematurely and not make the correct choices when they should.
Hope this helps.

Helen Zapata
04-20-2005, 11:14 AM
Whew, what a great thread. I see another five gold stars in it!

There is almost always a stage in a painting where one is ready to chuck the entire thing. That stage is usually early in the process, before a solidified idea of what all is going to happen in the paintiing has been resolved. Once past that stage, a painter's signature begins to emerge.


This stands out for me. I utterly and completely agree with it. I used to hit that "chuck it" stage on every painting (still do) and would get so depressed. My husband finally pointed out to me that this happens with every painting I do and that I would get through it. And yep! I push on through, and that's when the magic begins.

Knowing how the magic works, I couldn't possibly expect you to interrupt your painting to take photos for us during that intense slide into the finish, Marc. At that point, it's all Intuition.. it's all The Dance. It's what makes your work.... your work. I'd rather you work your magic, than worry about screeching on the brakes to take a picture for us. I'm grateful for any photos you do share.

Helen (gonna go find those stars now)

JamieWG
04-20-2005, 11:23 AM
<sigh> Marc, this one takes my breath away. I'm so glad you "stuck it out" to do the bigger one. I see things like this and wonder why we ever bother to paint small. Yes, it takes more time, but it is soooooo worth it.

Allow me to add to the many "thank yous" on this thread. I'd like to ask everybody to please rate this thread, and I'll move it to the Hall of Fame after you've received your comments. The progress pic and brush demos are too wonderful for words. I too was surprised by how thin your initial wash is. Also, I love your concept of scrubbing in with the brights instead of resorting to medium. I've found that resolves a lot of the slip-sliding away issues.

The brush used with its own weight will prove very useful to me I'm sure. I have that problem in branches with pushing away the underlying paint unintentionally.

Who would have thought a year ago that we'd see Marc Hanson out there with four reds on his palette? Makes me smile. I always suspected that you were a color junkie at heart.

I love using my Masterson stay-wet palette on my French easel like that. (Just did it yesterday, in fact.) I have glass in mine, and the Masterson is bulky, so I don't usually use it away from home. Painting here at the lake, it's my first choice of a palette.

Thank you so much for all you share with us. This thread is a gold mine of information.

Jamie

Robert
04-20-2005, 02:00 PM
Marc, this is a great demo. You really should be thinking about doing one of those North Lights books. You've got some great practical knowledge to share - and you do it very well!

Sarah Judson
04-20-2005, 02:50 PM
Ah, but the self-judging (and even some negative thinking) is part of who I
am, there's no getting around that unfortunately. I try to keep it under control
but sometimes it just sneaks out. Fortunately I am not alone as I see plenty
of others making similar comments about their work...

I try to keep the "self-judging" process focused into the realm of "did I really pay attention to what was in front of me and show it in the painting?" rather than asking if the painting "turned out right." (Still not easy to do.) I like what Larry says about plein-air painting being an opportunity to celebrate nature in a certain time & place. If this sense of appreciation is kept in mind, it can't help but come across in your painting.

cunparis
04-20-2005, 03:04 PM
Michael- A hard one to answer online in the written word. When you think about all of the art books, videos and other media out there, if it hasn't been satisfactorily answered by all of that then it's a safe bet that I can't do it here.

On top of that...a DVD might be the only other way to do it.



Marc,

I've read about 30 of them (seriously, I love to read) and I think a lot (the majority?) of art books are more about showing the artist's paintings than they are about teaching the reader something. I especially feel that way when they don't show very many steps in a demo, yet every other page has a full page painting. So I think it would not be hard for a talented artist to produce a good book.

Next, many books present something but then they don't give enough information. They leave too many unanswered questions. I often wonder if they even bothered to have actual amateur artists review the book. Often I think not. Things about painting thick or thin, holding the brush (like in your photos), using mediums, etc. are often overlooked. Many books have the same stages: sketch, block in start, block in middle, block in finish, then voilą finished painting! :)

Thanks for the advice on mediums, it's good advice. It's about the same conclusion I've come to. Mediums in the first few layers just make the paint too slippery for the later layers.

A DVD would be excellent. I plan to order Kevin McPherson's because I find him skipping in between steps 4 to 5 leaves me totally lost. ;) Maybe it's intentional. ;)

-Michael

WTPDOSA
04-20-2005, 07:39 PM
...On top of that...a DVD might be the only other way to do it...

Hey Marc,

If you ever do make an plein air oils DVD, Put my name down for one and I'll save my stipends up to get it! :D
I'm debating on Kevin's and Schmid's DVDs. I love both of their books.

cunparis
04-21-2005, 03:38 AM
Hey Marc,

If you ever do make an plein air oils DVD, Put my name down for one and I'll save my stipends up to get it! :D
I'm debating on Kevin's and Schmid's DVDs. I love both of their books.

I have been frustrated with my lack of advancement self-learning so I decided to order a Schmid DVD. I found a guy on ebay selling them cheap and I ended up buying all three. I should get them in the next two weeks, I have to have them shipped from the US. I'm really looking forward to them and will post some kind of review here.

For MacPherson, I've heard mixed reviews. I'm not sure if I should get it or not. I think it depends on how well I like the schmid videos. I'd like to give oil another serious try (currently using acrylic for brush and only using oil for knife painting) and I definitely need to see someone paint oil. I love Kevin's book so I'd love to see him do a complete painting.

It doesn't seem like it'd be that hard for an artist to produce a DVD. I don't even mind if it's not super hollywood quality. Just set up a decent digital camcorder on a tripod with a good view of the canvas and record the entire 3 hour session, put a mic on the artist and have him explain in real time what he's doing. I ordered a DVD last year and was disappointed when it just showed cut-outs, not the entire session but then at the end there was a 10 minute ad for workshops!

Marc, if I lived near you I'd bring my camcorder over and we'd self-produce a very affordable DVD together. I bet we could keep the cost low enough that there'd be no reason not to buy it. Like $25 or something. Who wouldn't pay that to see a complete 3 hour session with comments? So, if you'd like to make a DVD of plein air painting in Paris just let me know! :)

-Michael

WTPDOSA
04-21-2005, 04:19 AM
Michael,

Thanks for the comments. Please let me know what you think of Schmid's DVD. I'm curious to find out what others think as well.

I would be willing to pay what ever for a three hour Marc plein air oil DVD!
I just wish other plein air artists would make DVDs available.
The only other ones that are good are John Lovett's 10 minute lessons on DVD. I've bought three already and I've enjoyed each one. They are very reasonable in price, and they ship them anywhere. He offers both watercolors and oils, and I enjoyed learning from his book a few years ago.

Check his link out. John Lovett (http://www.johnlovett.com/)

JanB
04-21-2005, 09:24 AM
Interesting discussion. I think experience (# of paintings painted in ones' lifetime) must be a factor here. Only ocassionally do I "know" a painting is going to work out at a certain point and feel that the rest of my time will just be spent "finishing". It's far more likely that I'm struggling and in suspence until the last brush stroke, probably because all along the way I'm still resolving issues that should have been resolved or at least thought through earlier on. I put this down to lack of exprience, a few hundred more paintings should cure this LOL :D

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 09:55 AM
I found that my problem lied in trying to do a "finished" painting.
When I started to concentrait on the fundamentals; drawing, color, value... I found a great improvement. I don't worry about having a finished outdoor painting.

This question has almost reached the level of arguing religion and politics. Nothing wrong with good heated discourse though.

I hear ya Brad. I take this approach in all of the other activities that I struggle with be it skiing, sailing, flying, golf(well, let's not go there), and even walking at times!

I do love the finish though as well. There's a 'we're heading home' sense to that portion. But I feel that way because of the success of the earlier stages.

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:09 AM
[QUOTE=atapaz]

This stands out for me. I utterly and completely agree with it. I used to hit that "chuck it" stage on every painting (still do) and would get so depressed. My husband finally pointed out to me that this happens with every painting I do and that I would get through it. And yep! I push on through, and that's when the magic begins.[QUOTE/]

Good for you Helen and fortunate that your husband takes that care and let's you know. I have unfinshed canvas from the last --years all over the studio collecting dust because I let the process stop too early. Those weren't plein air, but studio conceived animal and bird paintings that were just launched into without a good plan. Sometimes chasing a bad idea too far is worse than just going on to the next one, but I am very much in agreement with what your husband is doing for you and your work.

[QUOTE]Knowing how the magic works, I couldn't possibly expect you to interrupt your painting to take photos for us during that intense slide into the finish, Marc. [QUOTE/]

You're nice to say that, but it's not that I don't have the time to do it or that I wouldn't want to. It's that the steps are so-ooo small that I'd have too many images to post here. As we can see, Michael and others are going the DVD/video route. I think that's the only way to really see the last part of a painting happen.

Thanks.:wink2:

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:15 AM
<sigh> Marc, this one takes my breath away. I'm so glad you "stuck it out" to do the bigger one. I see things like this and wonder why we ever bother to paint small. Yes, it takes more time, but it is soooooo worth it.

Allow me to add to the many "thank yous" on this thread. I'd like to ask everybody to please rate this thread, and I'll move it to the Hall of Fame after you've received your comments. The progress pic and brush demos are too wonderful for words. I too was surprised by how thin your initial wash is. Also, I love your concept of scrubbing in with the brights instead of resorting to medium. I've found that resolves a lot of the slip-sliding away issues.

The brush used with its own weight will prove very useful to me I'm sure. I have that problem in branches with pushing away the underlying paint unintentionally.

Who would have thought a year ago that we'd see Marc Hanson out there with four reds on his palette? Makes me smile. I always suspected that you were a color junkie at heart.

I love using my Masterson stay-wet palette on my French easel like that. (Just did it yesterday, in fact.) I have glass in mine, and the Masterson is bulky, so I don't usually use it away from home. Painting here at the lake, it's my first choice of a palette.

Thank you so much for all you share with us. This thread is a gold mine of information.

Jamie

Thanks Jamie. I know, 4 reds...I remember that in S.Christensen's video that he mentioned that if he felt he had to add any color to that palette, it'd be red. Well I found that out also.

Have you tried plexi instead of glass? Makes it a lot lighter in weight!

Aprpeciate your comments as always Jamie. :)

Brad M.
04-22-2005, 10:30 AM
This question has almost reached the level of arguing religion and politics. Nothing wrong with good heated discourse though.

I hear ya Brad. I take this approach in all of the other activities that I struggle with be it skiing, sailing, flying, golf(well, let's not go there), and even walking at times!

I do love the finish though as well. There's a 'we're heading home' sense to that portion. But I feel that way because of the success of the earlier stages.

Thanks Marc. To clarify what I'm trying to say; there's noothing wrong with a nicely finished plein air piece. I just think the priority should be on the starting fundamentals. I think you agree with this. My not getting to the finishes is due to my limitations as an artist, not any intrinsic philosophy of "not finishing"

Marc, you are an amazingly accomplished artist. You should be getting to that "we're heading home" stage. But I think artists trying to learn from you should look at how you approach and set up a painting, rather than just looking at your finished work.

The good things about these discussions is that by writing down our thoughts we need to crystalize them more in our minds.

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:31 AM
Marc,


Thanks for the advice on mediums, it's good advice. It's about the same conclusion I've come to. Mediums in the first few layers just make the paint too slippery for the later layers.

A DVD would be excellent. I plan to order Kevin McPherson's because I find him skipping in between steps 4 to 5 leaves me totally lost. ;) Maybe it's intentional. ;)

-Michael
Michael,
I'm covering a couple of your replies here.
On DVD's, Schmid, and then I'd recommend S.Christensen's over the other. Even if you're not a fan of his paintings, he does include all of the information that you find lacking in the books and videos. I'd say that it may be the single best most complete video on the start to the finish of a painting I've seen. KM's video is not in the same league. Anyone seen the Dan Gerhartz video? I'm interested in hearing about that one.
Maybe some time I'll wing over to Paris and take you up on the offer. But for now, I still need to figure out many of these things for myself. I've always been concerned that laying it all out there would stop my willingness to 'change' and experiment. A video sort of locks you into what you say and show. Tomorrow I may decide to switch to acrylics and paint like Wolf Kahn!!! I'd hate to feel I couldn't because I made too much of what I do public. I've known artists who had developed a huge following who suddenly wanted to work differently and were afraid to do it. They couldn't afford to cast off the collectors (ie, the money) to pursue their own changing interests. I don't have that problem, and don't want to do anything that may bring it on as yet. Books, videos and DVD's will do that. I've seen too many books (many that you have obviously also seen) that were made too early in an artist's career. There's a lot of psuedo expertise out there. Time and experience builds that, and I haven't put it in yet. Dues to be paid! Anyway, I prefer....Freedom! :)

But I sincerely appreciate your and Tom's interest. Who knows, one of these days it may happen.

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:33 AM
Hey Marc,

If you ever do make an plein air oils DVD, Put my name down for one and I'll save my stipends up to get it! :D
I'm debating on Kevin's and Schmid's DVDs. I love both of their books.
Tom,
Now that's a meaningful statement! I am grateful!!! :)

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:37 AM
Interesting discussion. I think experience (# of paintings painted in ones' lifetime) must be a factor here. Only ocassionally do I "know" a painting is going to work out at a certain point and feel that the rest of my time will just be spent "finishing". It's far more likely that I'm struggling and in suspence until the last brush stroke, probably because all along the way I'm still resolving issues that should have been resolved or at least thought through earlier on. I put this down to lack of exprience, a few hundred more paintings should cure this LOL :D
Jan, you're doing just fine and the #'s will make a difference.

It's not as much knowing that a painting is going to work and time will be spent 'just finishing'. It's more that if the early portion 'isn't' done well I know I'll never get to 'finishing'. I've had enough of that experience to be able to say that for sure! :wink2:

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:40 AM
Thanks Marc. To clarify what I'm trying to say; there's noothing wrong with a nicely finished plein air piece. I just think the priority should be on the starting fundamentals. I think you agree with this. My not getting to the finishes is due to my limitations as an artist, not any intrinsic philosophy of "not finishing"

But I think artists trying to learn from you should look at how you approach and set up a painting, rather than just looking at your finished work.

The good things about these discussions is that by writing down our thoughts we need to crystalize them more in our minds.

Thanks Brad. Well stated again! I agree completely.

Marc Hanson
04-22-2005, 10:44 AM
Marc, this is a great demo. You really should be thinking about doing one of those North Lights books. You've got some great practical knowledge to share - and you do it very well!
Thanks Robert. I appreciate it, but I think they need to be thinking about the artist and not the other way around. :wink2:

cunparis
04-22-2005, 07:40 PM
Speaking of the Schmid DVDs, I just saw one for sale on ebay (http://cgi.ebay.fr/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6527119487&fromMakeTrack=true) not sure how long it'll last, they've been going for around $65..

-Michael

James or Jimmy Jim
04-22-2005, 07:57 PM
Anyone seen the Dan Gerhartz video? I'm interested in hearing about that one.

Marc, you c alled? :D I can't post much at the moment.

Schmid DVDs are "numba one" for me. :D He's da man. No explanation needed ... okay? :D

The Scott Christensen video is good and teaches a lot, however, I find his style a little too "American western" for my taste. Seeing his home and studio, he seems to be doing very well for himself. I prefer his field studies over the studio work.

I have Dan Gerhartz's "In the studio" which I like. I must admit that his work is a little too "sweet" for me and I hated how the painting looked on the DVD sleeve, but I really enjoyed watching him paint a person from life. I'm a sucker for good figure work. I enjoyed watching the process more than the final work. Six hours long!!

Eugene Veszely
04-23-2005, 09:14 AM
..If not then you're right, they'll get the first 75% to look the same Every Time!!!

I may not have been clear...I meant that you can teach 30 people to copy your painting up to the 75% and have 30 paintings that look almost exactly like yours at 75%... but it is the final bit that sets the amateur from the pro and is like ones handwriting and it is THAT that I like to see being done!! :)

Brad M.
04-23-2005, 11:28 AM
I have to disagree here. If you're just talking about what makes two painters' work look different, then maybe it's the finishes that are important. But if you're talking about the difference in skill and proficiency, then I think it's all about the initial 5%. If a painter doesn't get the fundamentals right, the painting just won't work. In fact I often see the hallmark of an ameture work (we mean skill level, not whether one sells or not.) is that they spend way to much time noodling and overworking on the finishing details when they should get the starting process right.
Many of my plein air pieces are only the first 75% without the finishes, and they are often better than the ones I finished up more.

Marc Hanson
04-23-2005, 12:00 PM
I may not have been clear...I meant that you can teach 30 people to copy your painting up to the 75% and have 30 paintings that look almost exactly like yours at 75%... but it is the final bit that sets the amateur from the pro and is like ones handwriting and it is THAT that I like to see being done!! :)
That's a reasonable statement I think. But when it comes time for them to develop their own personal style/identity as a painter they HAVE to have a well honed beginning in order to get to that final bit, the handwriting. One doesn't come without the other.
But, I don't have any argument with your desire to see that portion Eugene. I like to see it too. I'm thinking of a way to do a demo that presents it in a way that will fit on WC, and will still be enough to show the progression.

Looking at Brad's reply to this, I am also in agreement with him. We can't actually have one without the other, can we?

I remember as a youngster, until Art school, never having seen another painter actually work! I saw my dad doing cartoon drawing and inking, painting in oil and watercolor, pastel and a bunch of other mediums that he used. But not a pro, he was an Air Force officer with an insatiable appetite for art. When I first saw a painter working in school, the instructors, I couldn't eat it up enough. I still feel that way about anyone who's painting, it's genetic in us I think. When the chance to watch R.Schmid paint landscape, I was somewhat surprised at what he called 'finished', as compared to watching his portrait demos. They were 'finished' in every sense of the word. But his landscapes were more sketchy than I thought I would have seen from him. But they were his work and he decided they were done at the point that he stopped painting. I would have done more, but he's the genius so I accepted his decision, not my desire.

So I understand Eugene's desire to see more, the last 25%. I'll just have to figure out how to do it. :wink2:

israelyang
04-23-2005, 05:57 PM
Marc
I just finished school studying art, and I still haven't seen an artist work in my whole life :)

I think painting is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. At the initial stage, you try to identify and darkest and lightest value, and the distinct colours and the edges. then you use the initial stage as a reference for the next stage. And the last stage is simplying filling the gaps, it's the 'riding down hill' part as Marc describes it.

If you rush to the last stage, you will find yourself lost, having little reference to work with, you take your chances, and sometimes it works out, sometimes not.

You can make people copy the great artist's initial stage, but actually have them look at the nature and simplify and paint-alize it by themselves, can distinc a novice from a pro.

Kitty Wallis
04-23-2005, 06:21 PM
You can make people copy the great artist's initial stage, but actually have them look at the nature and simplify and paint-alize it, can distinc a novice from a pro.
Well said!

Phyllis Rennie
04-24-2005, 02:38 PM
's beautiful, Marc! And grateful for the photos of the stages and closeups. :clap:

MarshaSavage
04-25-2005, 09:51 AM
Marc,
Beautiful painting! I really enjoy seeing the finished piece (your interpretation) and the actual scene. Much is learned from this, I think! Also your WIP shots. I truly believe the heart of a painting is in the beginning stages.

I have loved the conversation about the beginning stages and the 25% finishing stage. I took a workshop from Bob Rhom last year -- plein air in Apalachicola, FL -- He said he does not think of his plein air paintings as "paintings" -- these are his study -- the outdoors is his classroom. I have tried very hard to embrace this philosophy since then. Why I worried about them before, who knows. I know that every time you start a painting, who knows if it will end up a finished frameable painting worthy of a gallery. I have finally learned, I think, to give much more thought and preparation to the beginning!

I teach also and have for years told my students that they will not usually ever finish a painting in my class -- each week they begin a new painting with thoughts of a particular piece of painting logic -- i.e., composition, value, temperature, hard/soft edges, etc. -- the essentials as I see it. Each time they do this, they get further along in each painting -- eventually they will be 75% thru - sometimes they finish them at home and bring them in for me to critique -- they determine how much added detail they want to finish it with. Most of the time we all do too much finishing!!!!

I have always enjoyed the thought that you should be able to stop a painting at any step and it should read as a well-thought out composition, enjoyable at that stage even if never finished.

I hope you never stop giving to this community here!!! I know I learn so much just from looking at what you post, reading what you say, and also reading others' thoughts and differing opinions. That is what makes WC so great!

Again, love the painting! So simple and well-conceived.

Eugene Veszely
04-27-2005, 07:39 AM
So I understand Eugene's desire to see more, the last 25%. I'll just have to figure out how to do it. :wink2:


How is it coming along?? :evil: ;) :D

Rose Baggs
04-27-2005, 11:42 AM
Wonderful thread. I've learned a lot from the explanations to everybody's comments...agreements and disagreements...Thank you so much.
Marc about the DVD idea...it would be really nice to be able to see you painting. I would buy it for SURE!
I've started saving already...just in case you decide to do one. :D :cat:

Marc Hanson
04-27-2005, 10:26 PM
Marc
I just finished school studying art, and I still haven't seen an artist work in my whole life :)

If you rush to the last stage, you will find yourself lost, having little reference to work with, you take your chances, and sometimes it works out, sometimes not.


Ahh the irony!!!

Agree with you Israel. That second statement is so true.

Marc Hanson
04-27-2005, 10:35 PM
Marsha thank you for such nice comments.

I've tried for many years now to do what I first heard Richard Schmid describe as the way he "sees" the painting painted before he paints it. All the brushwork, color, composition, edges...the entire painting visualized before one stroke is made. It's extremely hard to do, but as time goes by and I continue to attempt doing this, I'm finding that I'm seeing paintings in places that I wouldn't have considered paintable at one time. It means that it's conceivable to make a painting out of a 1 square foot of grass at your feet if you "see" well.

The advantage is that if successfull, you're painting the finish right from the start, if you know what I mean. All of the initial work from stroke #1 to stroke #---------- is in sequence. A great feeling when it works out.

Marc Hanson
04-27-2005, 10:37 PM
How is it coming along?? :evil: ;) :D
How patient are you??????? :D

Marc Hanson
04-27-2005, 10:39 PM
Wonderful thread. I've learned a lot from the explanations to everybody's comments...agreements and disagreements...Thank you so much.
Marc about the DVD idea...it would be really nice to be able to see you painting. I would buy it for SURE!
I've started saving already...just in case you decide to do one. :D :cat:
Thanks Rose. I'm glad for all of the conversation and 'discussion'. And especially if it helps out.

I hope I get to do one before you have enough saved for a new house!!! :D

Marc Hanson
04-27-2005, 10:40 PM
's beautiful, Marc! And grateful for the photos of the stages and closeups. :clap:
Thank you Phyllis.

blondheim12
04-28-2005, 10:11 AM
Marc,
This discussion has been extremely interesting. I found it interesting that you feel that you have better control with brights. I am a flats person myself. The added flexibility of the longer brush hairs suits me well. I can get a chiseled edge to a flat for branches etc. I also prefer the synthetics to natural bristles. I know, that is totally unexceptable to the purists among us. My secret is out!!!
Love,
Linda

Marc Hanson
04-28-2005, 11:09 AM
Marc,
This discussion has been extremely interesting. I found it interesting that you feel that you have better control with brights. I am a flats person myself. The added flexibility of the longer brush hairs suits me well. I can get a chiseled edge to a flat for branches etc. I also prefer the synthetics to natural bristles. I know, that is totally unexceptable to the purists among us. My secret is out!!!
Love,
Linda
Nothing purist about that. I have a bucket full of old flats and synthetic brushes of various kinds that served me well in the past.
But that was when I worked more on stretched canvas. Now that almost all of my work is on board or canvas mounted to board, I find that I like the stiffness of the brights, and the knife edge. I'm more of a 'scrubber' now than I used to be, a flat feels too 'wimpy' in the way I work, but I still use them too. Just not as much.
As for nylons, I just don't feel that I get enough paint application from them. It's a personal use issue, so what ever works (as Larry's stick painting has shown), use it I say.

Eugene Veszely
04-29-2005, 12:01 PM
How patient are you??????? :D

What do you think?! :evil: ;)

beaux-art
04-30-2005, 01:26 AM
As a newbie to this forum, I just want to add my appreciation of Marc's demos (this one and the ones in the archives). They are soooo helpful and I'm sure they take an appreciable amount of time, as does the discussion I've been enjoying. This is a great group of artists.
Cecelia