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View Full Version : Stream with Notan process -- and looking for advice!


Colorix
08-19-2008, 10:04 AM
OK, guys, stickin' out me neck, as I'm only just beginning to learn the Notan idea. You who know how it works, please C&C, as I'm figuring other people interested in Notans will learn from me being made an example of... :)

In last weekend's WDE (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=133), there was a beautiful photo by lisilk to work from. Lots of detail, millions of stones and leaves, one I would normally consider way too difficult. Decided to see if preparatory work would make the process simpler.

lisilk's photo:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Aug-2008/117343-WDE9.jpg

(How did it get so big?...)

Playing with it in PS, I saw that the far shoreline divided the pic in half, so I cropped it. The interesting thing, IMHO, was the shape of the white water. In PS, I tried several ways of pushing thousands of values into only four, and decided to use one of those manipulations as a Notan. I also 'lifted up' the large stone in the front to provide a nicely placed indication of a counter-diagonal.

Next came the underpainting, which I made in my usual way, with colour, and the light parts of the water was painted darker as I would build up the whites.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Aug-2008/117343-Stream-concept-iz.jpg

And here is the finished painting. The only thing that looks different IRL is the warm light on the upper stone to the left -- it is much less contrast IRL, as the darks shine through in the photo. (Same with other far darks.)

Pastels
Fisher 400
A4 (ca 8x12")

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Aug-2008/117343-Stream-m-iz-Ff13.jpg

The witest whites are Terry Ludwig near whites. (Darkest darks are TL too.)

Would it have been better not to crop? Would the 'green stuff' have provided a calm area to rest in?

Did I get too detailed, following the photo too closely?

Anything?

C&C are very welcome, as I strive to learn.

Charlie

Pippa
08-19-2008, 10:30 AM
No criticism here! I think it's just lovely. I love the bright colours! :)

klord
08-19-2008, 10:48 AM
HI Charlie,

I think this process worked really well for you. The only thing I would want to comment on is to watch carefully the angles of the original notan. Your idea of counter balancing the foreground rock is terrific, but the shadow created by that rock is important to the design, in my opinion, and could be reemphasised a TAD in you painting. I think the value shape at the bottom of the river is a bit too close to the shadow value under that rock, and you could bring that very lsight angle back to the river at the bottom. I think that angle in the PS notan and in your underpainting is important. You can see where the angle got flattened in the underpainting. Two cents here.... being really picky, hope you don't mind.

Really, this is quite successful, and I hope you enjoyed working at simplifying the design. Lovely color usage in this piece.

I wish I new how to add arrows and things like Deborah does....

Great job!

Donna T
08-19-2008, 11:20 AM
Thanks so much for showing all the steps you took, Charlie. I definitely like your crop and think it puts all the focus on the water. As beautiful as the trees are, I'm wondering if moving water would always steal the attention from them. Maybe our eyes focus on the movement regardless of what else is in the scene? Just wondering, there must be some science involved. I love the colors you used and think you did a great job of turning a beautiful photo into an even more beautiful painting.

Donna

Sonni
08-19-2008, 12:44 PM
Doncha love doing notans on the computer? It really forces the design element. Yours is good. To me, it looks as if you may have gone overboard on the white in the water, though it looks good in the desaturated version. After that I can't add much to what Kim said, and I don't think she's being "picky." (Kim,:wave: stop that!). This is what critiques are about, and she is very good at it. Nice job....and what the heck is WDE. All these acronyms leave me:confused: . The photo is excellent, maybe I'll play with it, too.

Sonni
08-19-2008, 01:01 PM
Kim...I recognized the painting in your signature line from somewhere and couldn't remember. Then thumbing through the May issue of Southwest Art-- bingo! in large living color in the Napa Valley Art Festival :thumbsup:. with no name attached to it.

DAK723
08-19-2008, 01:15 PM
The crop is perfect, in my opinion, and the painting is stunning!! While many of us (hopefully myself included) create fine works of art - only a small group of artists create works of beauty that capture the reality of a scene but enhance it into something magical. Perhaps it sounds as if I am going a bit overboard, but I have tried for 30 years to figure out how to "go beyond" reality and yet make it seem as if it is still realistic. You have exhibited that ability consistantly, and this is one of your best.

Seriously, if you begin making prints of your work, let us know. I would definitely order this one!

Don

P.S. I think I need to start looking into this notan technique!

edencompton
08-19-2008, 01:43 PM
Great job on this Charlie! Love the movement and the colors.

Continental
08-19-2008, 01:45 PM
A grid is helpful for conquering vast details,

maw-t
08-19-2008, 01:48 PM
We both picked same photo this week:)... FuN to see it through different eyes...Your colors sparkle as always!!... I thought about cropping mine & still plan to a little at bottom,.. I thot the bg trees added more debth & atmosphere, however your crop works beautifully too!! (It is hard to tell about the original picture here as it is too large to see it as a whole).....That has happened to me more than once!

So did the notan make it easier? How did you like using it as tool?

maw-t
08-19-2008, 02:05 PM
OH I forgot to ask.. what medium do you use for the underpainting?

Susan Jenkins
08-19-2008, 02:09 PM
LOVE the softness of this. This is so painterly and peaceful!! I gotta try this notan process!!!

beautiful work!!!
:) susan

*Marina*
08-19-2008, 02:52 PM
Lovely painting Charlie. Those rocks are just gorgeous, beautiful colours. I am not really a landscape painter and definitely not into Notan. It is an interesting concept though and am following it here on Wetcanvas. Just a few nitpicks about your painting. Personally I would put some pure white (eg. Schmincke white) on some of the splashes. The other bit I would put some variation in is the top right hand corner to get a bit more contrast. (when you look at your black and white you may see what I mean. It is a gorgeous painting and if you don't see my thoughts no problem either.

binkie
08-19-2008, 04:22 PM
Charlie,

Wonderful!!! I love the way you use color. I don't think you got too detailed at all.

binkie

Colorix
08-19-2008, 04:34 PM
....to watch carefully the angles of the original notan. ...the shadow created by that rock is important to the design, in my opinion, and could be reemphasised a TAD in you painting. ....and you could bring that very lsight angle back to the river at the bottom.

Thank you so much, Kim! I jumped on this Notan-wagon because your paintings are so extraordinarily beautiful, and I want some of that to rub off on me! :D I've already used a systematic approach, and this fits into it very well. I enjoy the construction part, as well as the painterly part of creating a painting. Only problem is that I've never really learned composition, can't remember 14 different steelyards & Co... so to speak. Notan seems to solve the problem, as I can look for interesting shapes.

Kim, I'm sorry, I am not sure which angle you mean. (Got the value-bit, and agree!) Are you meaning this angle (that I drew in the program called Paint)?:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Aug-2008/117343-Stream-mini-_paint_iz-m-Ff13.jpg The lower leg of it is curving down towards the bottom in my underpainting and in the finished pic. It is an easy thing to fix, too! So I hope you mean that one.

Pippa, Eden, Susan, Binkie, thanks a lot! Do try it, some strictness in the start does allow for just painting right-brained later, and not having to switch back to left-brain in the midst of the Flow-experience to correct values.

Continental, gridding is a very useful tool for high realism. I'm going the other way, though, and want to learn to use less detail and more suggestion.

Donna T, thank you! I do think that the eye will always go to what is moving, and as we know this water really is moving IRL, our brains make it simple for us and directs our attention there even if it is still. And then, the eye will always go to the brightest part of a painting, especially if it is next to dark darks, well, I remember reading that somewhere. The eye follows the path of light before it follows a path of dark.

Sonni, thanks! Yes, I did like making notans on the 'puter. There were so many values, though, in the photo, that posterizing it changed a lot between number of levels. Which I understand means that the photo *really* needed simplifying. Next time, I will do a final notan by hand, in addition, as some things changed form too much on the 'puter.
If you click on the letters WDE in the first post, it is a link, and it will take you to All Media Arts Event-forum, where the fun Weekly Drawing Event is. A great place to play and try out stuff, or just go wild in general with colour, cartoons, sketches, etc. Look at the sticky-thread with a bulb that reads "images here".

lisilk has lots of photos in the RIL (Reference Image Library), they are nearly always good.

Don, thank you! :o I'm embarrassed, but happy! I'm striving towards that kind of "beyond" you mention, and some day I will get there! I've not considered prints yet, as they are always of such poor quality compared to the original. Yes, even the giclées. Don't know if we have them in Sweden, will look into it.

T, thanks! Sorry, I've not seen your version yet, will look for it asap. I use mostly Rembrandts for my underpainting, as they seem more transluscent to me, like a 'wash', and I don't even use turp/water/alcohol to brush it out. On Colourfix, I blend it into the grain with fingers, but this was on Fisher that is rather like Wallis, it simply grabs hold too much (and keeps down the amount of coloured dust in my house).
The notan worked really well to help me choose the crop/comp, decide where on the paper I'd put the white irregular shape. It also simplified things by allowing me to make the bg rocks into a one-value irregular mass. I only needed to suggest the light parts of the rocks on top of that. (Love sanded paper for allowing multiple layers!) Instead of driving myself crazy with trying to do every single individual rock! :eek: Now, the rocks were just small variations within the mass, so definitely, yes, it got *way* simpler! I'm sure those who really know this Notan principle would go about it differently, but I'm told it takes practice, so I'm practicing. :)

Marina, thanks! Oh, yes, I do see, and I hear you. I know that upper right part got forgotten... :o :lol: ... focusing too much on other parts, simply slipped my mind, but I saw it as soon as I uploaded. A few touches of pure white would round out, 3D, some splashes, I'll do that, thanks! Got Schmincke white, I'll try that. TL just might be denser and more reflecting than Schmincke, if possible. I'll see what happens. This is a case where pure white actually might be best (sparingly used), even though I seldom use it normally.

Charlie

*Marina*
08-19-2008, 04:51 PM
Charlie for me pure white is the icing of the cake, used sparinglyand only right at the end, but a painting suddenly comes alive. In the white of the eyeball of my painting is hardly any white, onlya little bit in the middle on the left hand side. When I put that white on it suddenly was 3D, what I am always striving for.

klord
08-19-2008, 06:11 PM
Thank you so much, Kim! I jumped on this Notan-wagon because your paintings are so extraordinarily beautiful, and I want some of that to rub off on me! :D I've already used a systematic approach, and this fits into it very well. I enjoy the construction part, as well as the painterly part of creating a painting. Only problem is that I've never really learned composition, can't remember 14 different steelyards & Co... so to speak. Notan seems to solve the problem, as I can look for interesting shapes.

Kim, I'm sorry, I am not sure which angle you mean. (Got the value-bit, and agree!) Are you meaning this angle (that I drew in the program called Paint)?:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Aug-2008/117343-Stream-mini-_paint_iz-m-Ff13.jpg The lower leg of it is curving down towards the bottom in my underpainting and in the finished pic. It is an easy thing to fix, too! So I hope you mean that one.


Charlie

Exactly there! The bottom angle of the shadow in the water, not the shadow on the rock itself. Just a distinct indication of that angle helps to pull you eye into the piece.

I think one of the great things about this notan or simplified value/design system, is that it is a little more organic that trying to fit your style/idea into a "rule" based composition, like you mentioned. This really opens up the possibilities.

PainterMike
08-19-2008, 06:40 PM
I like this a lot!
I'm very weak when it comes to technical the aspects of painting, but I knkw what I like...and I like!
Mike

bchlvr
08-19-2008, 07:36 PM
Beautiful colors!

Punky2
08-19-2008, 07:41 PM
Charlie,

You did an excellent job of taking something very complex and creating simplified shapes out of it. Your painting is beautiful!

I also have a difficult time with composition. When looking through books on composition at all of the lines and circles superimposed on top of the painting, and the author might say, see this is a circular/triangular/S shaped, or whatever composition, I say, "Huh?".

Well done.

Terri

Pine Cone
08-20-2008, 11:44 AM
Hi Charlie - I love your painting. The colors are gorgeous (your work is always vibrant) and your application of the process is impeccable.

For me, the only problem is the giant rock in the foreground. Although it's technically accurate, to me, looking at this purely as a viewer, without thinking about the process or the WIP images you showed, that rock is just huge, and it takes an effort to get past it to the rest of your painting. Perhaps it stands out more because of your tighter crop??? I've noticed in my own work that when I change one aspect of a composition, others usually need to be adjusted as well. Just a thought, and perhaps inaccurate on my part - I'll probably feel differently once I've got a sufficient dose of caffeine in me to start my day properly! :lol:

Colorix
08-20-2008, 01:52 PM
Kim, thanks a lot, I'll fix that angle, and the value.

Pine Cone, thanks! The rock, ah... it *is* huge, innit? What I'm trying to do is to have it work for three things, one is something dark in the foreground, another is to have it guide the eye into the stream (the eye can either slide on top of it and land in the white water, or along the v-angle under it if the eye enters from below, and thirdly it is part of a broken leg of an x, where the big rock and the far small rocks go in this direction /, while the white water goes like this, \. After all that, I agree that the rock has Attitude! It is nearly offensively bold.

Mike, bchlvr, thanks a lot!

Terri, thanks!

Re: Composition. The thing with those s-s and triangles and whatnot is that you can find about just any line or principle in most paintings. So when 'they' (the famous 'they') state something, I can see another principle too. And when they describe how the eye moves, mine doesn't! And to make matters even better, the Italian masters of the renaissance (renascimiento) back in the 14 and 1500s often used other principles, like cones instead of triangles, and even built white and black flagstones according to Fibbonachi's exponential curves, spiralling, instead of linear perspective. :eek:
I strongly suspect that the compositional formats are sprung from the academies of the 17 and 1800s, and the people in the academies pretty soon produced rather standardized paintings, by and for academicians.

So far, I've found 3 simple things that work:
a) Don't use Union Jack lines. (Simple, think of the British flag.)
b) Never repeat the exact same shape, interval, colour, value, etc. (Similar yes, Same no.)
c) Find an interesting shape.

Thank you, all,
Charlie

David Patterson
08-20-2008, 02:55 PM
What beautiful composition and colour Charlie!! Just lovely!

David

nvcricket
08-20-2008, 10:36 PM
WOW Charlie,

You are really working the notan process to your benefit. What tool in paint did you use to get the notan? Your work is tops to me, but I think the notan process brings it up another notch. I am learning so much from you.

Thanks for sharing your growth!

Carol

Adriana Meiss
08-21-2008, 12:32 AM
Charlie,
I really enjoy seeing your paintings, but even more so when you include the reference photo because that way it's easier to appreciate how creative you are with color.

Your website looks good!

WC Lee
08-21-2008, 01:24 AM
very nice :) looks like you taking to the notan process pretty well

dobber
08-21-2008, 09:50 AM
This is beautiful. I love the colors. Painting rocks is always a stuggle for me. Yours are wonderful.:thumbsup:

Colorix
08-21-2008, 12:50 PM
Thanks a lot, David, Carol, Adriana, Lee, Dobber! One of the best parts of WC is that one learns so much from other people's experiments and processes, and I try to "give onward", by sharing my processes of learning things. We, people in general, don't learn only from those who are masters or teachers, but also by seeing other people struggle. I discovered that in the first class I ever took.

Carol, I used Photoshop Elements 6.0 for the "Notanification". (Learning how to deal with PS is another struggle.... ) (I tried Paint too, and that is in the paragraph below.) First I made the pic b/w, and then I used a filter that posterized it. After choosing a level of simplification in that filter, I then proceeded to make a new layer, and use the brush to paint over and unify the masses in that layer. (Took quite a while to find the right setting for the brush to actually *cover* the pic.) I made the pic small, so I wouldn't see too many details.

Another way to do it, in Paint, would be to first make it b/w in PS or some other image-noodling program. Save the b/w as a small copy, and open it in paint, choose a large brush, or the spray can, and have at it! Outlining and then filling with the bucket would be quicker, but it isn't free enough. The idea with the notan is to make a correct placement of the darks and lights, but the contours/outlines are to be avoided, better to brush or spray.

Artistammy
08-21-2008, 05:48 PM
This is beautiful! You chose a great crop. I should try the Notan. I'm bad about just cropping different ways on the 'puter & not even doing thumbnails. I want to hurry & get to the painting. lol
Tammy

CindyW
08-21-2008, 08:27 PM
Charlie, the white of the water is just superb! I like how the rest of the painting's darker jewel colors supports that inner roiling water, gives it a solid and strong base to flow wildly over.
Very nice!