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Old 08-31-2015, 09:43 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Welcome artists!

Here is a quick recap of what The Spotlight is all about!

The Spotlight is an activity thread for pastel artists of all experience levels working from photos chosen by a monthly host. Most months, the host will choose photos from only one subject, putting that subject into “the spotlight,” so to speak! For example, one month the subject will be painting water, another month will spotlight flowers, etc.

Some months, rather than spotlight a subject, the focus will be on a challenge of some sort. In those cases, we might have a wider variety of photo references, but “the spotlight” will be on the challenge itself.

Since this is a group activity, we can pool our knowledge and resources, and grow as artists in a fun, “no-pressure” atmosphere.

And, remember, no critiques unless specifically asked for.

The intent is to have fun, try new things, experiment, and perhaps most of all, to see what our friends and colleagues are painting from the same reference material!

Please note: The photos this month were taken by me or are from the Reference Image Library. You have permission to use the photos as reference to create your artwork and to sell them and/or exhibit them. The actual photos still retain the copyright of the photographer. So you cannot copy the photo to your blog, for example, without the permission of the photographer, or digitally alter or reproduce the photo for any purpose other than for your personal use, with the exception of crops, digital alterations and posts of these photos within "The Spotlight" thread.

This month’s Spotlight is on…Line!

I am certainly no art expert, but it seems to me that in these days and times, the trend in painting is to be more “painterly.” Lots of folks on our forums ask, “How can I make my work look more painterly?” And when it comes to a painterly style, it’s all about shapes! The impressionists have a lot to do with our emphasis on being painterly and on shapes. Monet, after all, described painting as “placing one shape of color next to another” – or something like that. I myself have been a strong proponent on teaching a more painterly approach and we have done a Spotlight on beginning paintings by blocking-in big shapes rather than drawing any outlines.

But when you look at the history of art, it was not always so. Using outlines – and putting an emphasis on lines in general – is far more prevalent through the ages. So what happened to lines and outlines? Is it really so bad to use them? That’s what we will explore this month as we put the Spotlight on…Lines!

Those that have come to know me here on WetCanvas probably know that I am not one who likes a lot of rules. I also don’t like a lot of classifications and trying to put boundaries on art. So if you have ever been told (or read) that one shouldn’t use a lot of lines or outlines in painting – or intentionally combine line and shape – then this Spotlight is for you!

One thing about pastels that make them a bit different than some of the other popular mediums is that they are made to make both lines and large shapes of color. Sure, you can make lines and shapes in oils, watercolors or acrylics, but pastels seem best suited for this dual purpose. You can use the pointed end of the pastel to make more linear marks. Turn the pastel on its side and make large sweeping shapes of color! It’s so easy to do both!

When we look at the beginnings of art, artists used outlines to define forms.




But, as we can see, they also used shape – as we can see in the small overlapping reddish colored figure on the bottom right! And the small figure on the lower far left has a combination of dark outlines filled in with a colored shape! The cave painters did it all! So why can’t we?

Line was very prevalent in the works of Botticelli. Here’s a detail from his famous Birth of Venus:



Here are some artists of more recent times that showed how shape and line can work together.

Degas – an oil painting and a pastel:



The first painting has some very bold outlines, in the second the outlines are more delicate and subdued. Note that there are places that the outline is not visible at all, and where it is visible it varies in thickness, darkness, etc. Even with some outlines showing, you can still use a variety of edges including hard, soft and lost edges!

Here a couple still life paintings – oil paintings by Cezanne and Gauguin:



The Cezanne (top) has some nice lost and found (appearing and disappearing) outlines. Gauguin’s outlines seem more prominent – especially around the fruit, but he also seems to pick and choose where he wants to add lines and where there are none.

Next, two paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, a painter who used lines and outlines in much of his work, but as we can see in the second example, could also work in a very painterly style. Both approaches are totally valid to use, in my opinion.



And one more example, two pastels by Mary Cassatt:



In the first painting, we see a painting that stretches the boundaries! The woman’s head is not only taken to a greater degree of finish, but is also very painterly with no outlines. As we move away from the head, the outlines are not only more visible, but the painting becomes almost all line in places. In my opinion, going from one extreme (all painterly) to the other (all linear) is a very difficult type of painting to pull off! Of course, Cassatt was a master and did many paintings that are similar, so she could make it work! The second painting above has a more unified merging of shape and line. Outlines are visible throughout all portions of the painting, even though the faces are taken to a greater degree of finish.

Hopefully, the above examples may give you some ideas about how “line” can be incorporated into paintings – even in this day and age of being more painterly! It may end up being something you never use – or doesn’t work for your style of painting. On the other hand, it may be something you want to try every once in a while! Or, like Toulouse-Lautrec or Mary Cassatt, using line may become a large part of your style!

To help us compare a more linear approach with the more painterly approach, we will put the “Spotlight” on the painterly approach next month! But for this month, let’s experiment with using line!

References:

Photo by SweetHuia



Photo by jade fox



Photo by Jolanta



Photo by MandyB



Photo by me



As always, feel free to crop and modify the ref pics as you wish! And have fun!

Don
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Old 09-01-2015, 12:27 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Wow! Wonderful lesson this month, Don! I love the examples, may wind up taking one of them as a reference too. I think that bull is out of copyright by now, it could be quoted. Love the various fruit still lifes.

What first really impressed me about the use of line in art was Art Nouveau and the works of Alphonse Mucha, also many other artists in that style. I remember seeing enormous Art Nouveau paintings in a Chicago theatre as panels around the stage area and I was awed. Loved the style of heavy graceful lines and then realist painterly details within them. Lines as decoration and accent. It looked like a painting and looked real all at once.

This is going to be so much fun! Colored paper rocks for this kind of thing, especially in a mid value.
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Old 09-01-2015, 08:01 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Don, these are wonderful topics for Spotlight! Your examples and references are beautiful, and I love the idea of using only/mainly line this month and then next month the painterly approach. I'll be on a mini vacation visiting my granddaughter and great-grandchildren for a few days but will join you all when I return.
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Old 09-01-2015, 08:01 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Don! Love this lesson! And those references. Super. I need this lesson so much. Thank you. I wish I could paint right this minute!!!
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:26 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Another great lesson, Don! I have them all compiled into a notebook for reference!
Looking forward to doing a couple...
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:58 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

As soon as I read the theme for this month is line, I thought of Cezanne. I have a book with a great selection of his paintings. I remember finding it on a discount table in Chapters for $5. I am always drawn (pun not intended) to his works, so I picked it up. Maybe now is the time to give it a try.

Thanks for opening my eyes, Don. It is different. Is that why most people don't use line in their paintings? Will people accept it? The more I think about it, the more I want to do it. If somebody asks why would you do something like that, my comeback will be, "why not?"

Doug
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:29 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Hey everybody. I've been reading and learning from you fine folks here for some time now and today I decided to break out of my shell and participate. So here goes.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:31 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Don, I loved the photos but when I set my stuff out to do one, WC hiccuped and I couldn't open the thread. So I didn't start off with one of the references. Next best thing was do a pear from life using line and loose masses of color. Very fast and loose! But I probably would have done only one of the fruits tonight as it was late, I needed to keep it simple.

Sometimes that makes things work even better. I let go of literal color and even form to do something a lot jazzier. I played with color on this one.


Pear from Life (Spotlight 9-2015)
6" x 9"
Cretacolor Pastels Carre' on Light Green Canson Mi-Tientes smooth side.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:30 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Welcome Matt. Glad you decided to join us. I like your apple still life very much. Really like the background.

Robert! I'm so glad the site wouldn't open for you because this piece is special. I love it although I must admit I would probably crop some of the reflection, IMHO. I LOVE the pear and love the background. Nice!
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:23 AM
Judibelle Judibelle is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

2 Beautiful pieces...off to a great start.
I did a couple of sketches yesterday, and may get a chance to start one in earnest today..
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:41 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Matt, Glad you decided to join us! And thanks for starting us off with a wonderful painting! Lovely use of line and shape!

Robert, Sorry WC hiccuped, but glad you used your own set up! Yes, use of line can allow one to break free with color!

Don
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:24 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

THIS IS NOT FREEHAND. Only a sketch. I used tracing paper to help me get her onto the paper or I would be here until January. I really needed this lesson and could not wait to try. The is the ref by Jolanta. (Thank you Jolanta.) Fabriano Tiziano. Hard pastels. 10 by 14. C and C most welcome.
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:15 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Wow, so many beautiful paintings so soon!

Matt, I love your Cezanne apples! Great use of line and volume, and terrific background.

Same with yours, Robert! The pear is a very fresh style for you, and I really like it. I agree with Jay about cropping. I think I'd crop about a third off the bottom pear reflection. Gorgeous background on yours, too.

I love your ballerina, Jay! The lines of her left arm and right leg are especially graceful and pleasing. I'd like to see a more solid foot, with some blue (even though I know their shoes are pink), on the chair, I think, maybe just a harder shadow? But you did a great job for such a quick painting.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:02 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Thanks Blayne. She will have tweaks for sure. I see the line of her back is off.

I think I only used eight pastels on this!

I can add a touch of blue to the shoe. I wanted to emphasize the line of the chair but a bit of blue would be good there. Also need to fix her left leg near her dance outfit.

Please, nobody mention the fingers. Please please?
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:10 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - September 2015 - Line

Matt, I somehow didn't see yours, maybe we posted at the same time. I love it! The Cezanne apples are gorgeous and I like what you did with the pot too. So well modeled. Great line and wonderful detail within.

Jay, tracing is effective! it's a beautiful sketch, the colors and texture are wonderful. Very lively and light filled. I love the lines and the way you handled the ambiguity of her foot on the chair - they blur together as almost a lost line in the photo and something about that jarred me. You improved on the photo!

You might be seeing a lot from me this month since I'm doing 30 Paintings in 30 Days and decided Line was a good theme for this month. Sometimes I might do other media but a lot of them I'll have fun with this style of pastels! Here's another fruits one from life, a little more literal in color except that i changed color on the golden pear because both of them were the same light green. This time I wanted the analogous red-orange - yellow - green harmony with pink and lavender accents.


Pears and Orange from Life
6" square
Cretacolor Pastels Carre' on Oyster Canson Mi-Tientes
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