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Old 03-31-2012, 11:20 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

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 are from the Reference Image Library or were taken by me. 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…Spring!

The Spotlight has only been around for just over 2 years, but one tradition that we have established is to celebrate Spring! I realize that our Southern Hemisphere members are now celebrating Autumn, but I'm sure they won't mind if we put the Spotlight on Spring!

After the mildest winter in my memory, here in the Northeastern US, Spring has come early! Daffodils were blooming in mid-March and trees started budding around 6 weeks ahead of schedule!

There is no particular lesson this month, but I thought I would suggest continuing with a basic theme that we have been working on in some of our recent Spotlights. That theme, although I don’t think we’ve actually used the term, has been using a “painterly” approach to our paintings. Of course, every artist may have a different definition of what “painterly” is, but in my definition, one of the main factors is using a general approach that stresses “big to small.” One begins by drawing, painting, or blocking-in the big shapes. Smaller shapes are then added to define objects, light and shadow, and ultimately details. Shapes are stressed rather than lines. Details are often limited and suggested.

In September, our Spotlight was on Form. We tried to focus on the overall shapes – or silhouettes - of our objects and think about their form. We discussed how that form can be modified, changed, and/or exaggerated to make the forms more artistic, beautiful or to capture the essence of the object they represent.

Two months ago, we continued that basic “painterly” theme with starting our painting with a block-in. Here we got a bit more specific in our approach of working big to small. Last month’s Spotlight on underpainting was another way of approaching our painting by starting with big, sometimes “wet” shapes!

For those who missed them or would like to refresh their memories, here are some links:

Form: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=946762

Blocking-in: www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=993322

Underpainting: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show....php?t=1029802

As I mentioned, “painterly” is a term that can mean different things to different artists, so my definition may be one of many! Here are a few more!

Merriam-Webster defines painterly as:

Quote:
"Marked by an openness of form which is not linear and in which sharp outlines are lacking."

Wikipedia defines painterliness as being the opposite of linear. They continue:

Quote:
"An oil painting is painterly when there are visible brushstrokes, the result of applying paint in a less than completely controlled manner, generally without closely following carefully drawn lines."

Bob Rohm has written a book on this theme entitled “The Painterly Approach.” One of the things he mentions about a painterly approach is:

Quote:
“The painterly approach starts from a position of abstract relationships while the linear artist starts from one of accuracy of subject.”

In a linear approach one often starts with a detailed line drawing. Rohm writes about the possible pitfalls of that approach:

Quote:
“Painting may seem almost mechanical: lines are filled in while trying not to disturb the accurate drawing the artist labored to establish.”

I think many of us can relate to that last statement. If you start with a detailed drawing, then with each layer of pastel you apply, you begin to cover and “distort” or “lose the accuracy” of that initial drawing. I know that I have “been there, done that!”

With the painterly approach, the details and refining come at the end, not at the beginning, so there is nothing to “lose” in the painting process!

One thing Rohm mentions in his book, and I want to reiterate, is that the painterly approach is just one approach to painting. He stresses that it is not better or worse than a linear approach – just a different approach. Much great artwork has been produced using all sorts of different approaches and techniques.

Rohm’s first quote above regarding abstract relationships (painterly) versus accuracy of subject (linear) – well, I’m not sure I agree with that. I think those are perhaps the two extremes, but I get the point. The initial shapes and their relationships may be somewhat abstract in a painterly approach, but I think your block-in or underpainting can still aim for accuracy. I think it is more a question of priorities and the relative importance of the overall abstract pattern versus accuracy. Each approach can include both, in my opinion.

As I was reading Rohm's book, I came across another point that I wanted to share. It has nothing to do with the painterly approach, but I thought it was an important point - especially for beginners and newcomers to art who can often be a bit intimidated when it comes to all the compositional rules that are thrown at them from various books and other sources.

I also include it because I agree with it completely and have, in my own fumbling, bumbling way, tried to articulate it here on WetCanvas over the years!

Here’s what Rohm says about composition:

Quote:
“There are many principles and formulas for good composition, but the biggest trap most artists fall into is that they interpret these principles as rules, and the formulas for requirements for painting.” He continues, “There are no rules – just principles. When used, these principles work, but they are not always the best solutions for your interpretation of a particular scene.

The bold face type is mine, not Rohm’s, but I think it is important to stress those words. Each individual painting is unique and has its own “best solutions.” There are no compositional rules that should automatically be applied to each and every painting.

Hopefully, this idea will allow the artist to paint more freely and concentrate more on the positive things they want to communicate, rather than feeling they need to follow all the rules or their painting will be “bad” or something will necessarily be “wrong.” Principles are more like “tools” than rules. You can use the ones you need and disregard the ones that don’t apply to the job at hand!

And that is one of the ideas I hope that I can promote here in the Spotlight!

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now….

So, to sum up:

If you want, try to continue to apply some of the "painterly" principles we have been working on in the past few months – concentrating on form and/or using block-ins and/or wet underpaintings to start your paintings and working "big to small."

Or if you want to approach these references in a totally different way – please do so!

After all, I said there was no particular lesson this month!


The references:

OK, I know that Cardinals live in the same place year round, but they sing a lot more come Spring! And Cardinals are one of the few songbird species where the female sings, too! (And you thought Spotlight research was confined to art related information?)

Plus, I couldn’t resist this beautiful photo by pencilnpen.





The rest of the reference photos were taken by me.

These next two were taken just a couple days ago! Springtime in Rochester! (Of course, today there was snow on the ground when I woke up!)






Some older photos from previous Springs!







Don’t forget that you can crop these photos if you want. So, if you just want to paint one of the baby swans (or Cygnets), you can.

Like this one:



Here’s a photo that I thought really captured the feeling of Spring – at least how it was 30 years ago! Do they still make tricycles?



No, this is not my tricycle! I wasn't riding one 30 years ago - it was more like 50 years ago. Gosh, where did the time go!

Remember, you can modify the references any way you want. Feel free to crop, delete, and/or rearrange the elements!

If doing a wet underpainting or dry block-in, please feel free to post that underpainting along with your final painting – and any interim stages if you want!

Enjoy!

Don
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:14 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Great photos! Very inspiring. I'm going to have fun this month, just use whatever techniques come to mind for that given painting. With my doing Daily Painting this month I'm bound to do at least one of these - getting some ideas already!
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:15 AM
Judibelle Judibelle is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Love the references, Don! We, too, had snow on the ground yesterday, and may get a bit more today. And it sounds like we may get a bit more today....yuk!
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:28 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Hi Don, excellent! And yes, there is a lesson imbedded! I don't know if I'll find the time to participate with a painting/sketch, but want to comment on what you said.

Like you, Don, I think the linear and abstract can be found together. I think it is more a question of mindset. That careful drawing which we struggle to keep visible while at the same time we work to cover it... well, that's enough to create a load of frustration, as it isn't possible to do both. What happens is that we try to preserve the drawing. If we start with a rough block-in, we strive to create and build up, going from simplification to greater complexity, which allows for -- necessitates! -- creativity in the ongoing process of painting. Which is why I find the painterly approach much more interesting (and work hard at getting rid of my linearity).

The painterly artist can more easily relate to the abstract shapes and movements which go across the linear outlines, but both types of painters can do that if trained to see the abstract shapes of light and dark. Sometimes the painterly artist lose sight of what a lyrical line can do for a painting.

Ah, the rules... It is easier to learn (or teach) them as rules, but it is vital for the artist to understand that they are tools, tricks of the trade, and can be used or not used. If a composition's impact will depend on lines leading to the center from each corner, and by lines dividing the painting in halves both horizontally and vertically, then those are the best means to use, for that particular composition.

Wonderful food for thought, Don!
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:20 AM
fjslightvision fjslightvision is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

As a beginner, still struggling to find the balance between "accuracy and representation", "detail and simplification", "realism and composition", "creative freedom and rules" I find these suggestions very grounding and look forward to working with them this month. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:01 PM
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Greenbrier33 Greenbrier33 is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Don -- Thanks for hosting! There is certainly a lesson within.

fjslightvision -- Welcome! Glad you joined us!

Interesting comments about rules, principles, and their impact on the "painterly" painter. I like the Spotlight because we can talk about topics like this. So if I may jump upon my own soapbox…

I think the greatest advances in human history occur when humans do not follow rules, whether intentionally shunning principle (Matisse) or through accidental discovery (Louis Pasteur). Few humans can effect change while conforming to accepted structure devised by others. Innovation, by nature, is trekking outside the beaten path. It's these alternate paths that lead to new ways of thinking.

Nonetheless, framing the human experience in concrete terms--the ways of thinking we already know--like rules and principles, can point us to paths of personal expression that ultimately determine our unique contribution to humanity. This translates to successful painting, especially in the beginning of an artists career. Value, color harmony, shape, and so on...these are matters of principle that must be understood, even if ignored, by successful artists.

I adore artists who can paint realism and impressionist styles with ease. Although I struggle to paint realism, because I don't understand the translation. Instead, my wild hand wiggles across a canvas, copying the sounds of life as they assume a parallel color from a box or tube of paints.

So anyway... Forsythia bush is a classic Spring favorite even here in Frankfurt. Happy Spring everyone!
Dave

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Old 04-01-2012, 01:07 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjslightvision
As a beginner, still struggling to find the balance between "accuracy and representation", "detail and simplification", "realism and composition", "creative freedom and rules" I find these suggestions very grounding and look forward to working with them this month. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.

fjslightvision, Thanks for joining us here in the Spotlight and the Pastel forum! After 30 years I am still struggling with all those things you mention, so you are not alone! Glad my suggestions have given you some insight!

Robert, Judi, Charlie - Thanks for your comments! I guess even when not planning on giving a lesson, I end up following some idea and trying to figure out some way to communicate it!

Don
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:12 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Dave, Thanks for your thoughts and for starting us off this month! And you have started us off with a blaze of color that sings "Spring!"

Always glad when the Spotlight conjures up thoughts, ideas and discussion! That's all part of the experience of becoming an artist, it seems to me!

Don
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:28 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Dave I love how you can just let go and sing your own notes. Your hand wiggles are dancing across the page and you can see that energy in this painting. It shouts Spring and freedom from winter! Wonderful work.
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Old 04-01-2012, 07:24 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Dave, wow! This is a bold painterly spring scene! I love your colors, those rich electric blues sing with the yellows and greens. That is just elegant - cools balanced by that bright yellow and white. I love it. Those blues would be too much without the violet accents, with them they're just right.
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:16 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Dave this inspires me to give it a try. Lively work!!!
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:06 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!


Daffodil
5" x 7"
Pan Pastels and Girault Pastels
Maize PastelMat
Photo reference by DAK723 for April 2012 Pastel Spotlight challenge

Here we go - first of my Daily Paintings. I'm off to start the blog now!
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:58 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Robert......my first thoughts...beautiful, simply beautiful I love love love your yellows, so vibrant
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:42 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Another month and another great Spotlight to make us think and help us learn!
Thanks to Don as always and to you all for the interesting comments so far...and still on the first page.

Dave, I love your painting which just sings Spring out loud! I admire artists who can "copy the sounds of life" with "hand wiggles". Your style is something as difficult for me as realsim is for you. Vive la différence I say!

Robert, I just love the Daffodil. Definitely a painterly style full of life and joy!

I will be joining in this month, very soon. I know I neglected the Spotlight from the middle of last Month due to too many other things going on.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:27 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - April 2012 - Spring!

Robert, beautiful glowing påsklilja (as it is called in Swedish).

David, the forsythia was perfect for your expressive style, it is electric! Wonderful!
Alternate paths, definitely, agree totally with you, David. The restrictions are often self-inforced, driven by a desire to conform and be accepted and included. (Which is why radical avant guarde movements eventually become -- ordinary mainstream, as the brave ones conform to the dictates of that particular ism they follow. Come to think of it, it is usually the *followers* who get dogmatic, not the trail-blazers.)
You wouldn't enjoy synesthesia, would you? In any case, it sounds to me like you need to follow your muse, with strong expression. Learning some tools might give you even more freedom. As...
...I think that sometimes it is the restrictions that force a greater creativity. I'm thinking of the classical form of sonnets, in poetry. Very strict form, and such wonderful varied content. It is like painting with only 12 colours, one does have to get innovative. While limitless resources may sometimes restrict, as the choices are too many.
Or to put it another way, both (freedom and restriction) are probably true, as usually truth contains paradoxes.

And now I'll stop procrastinating and go and solve the last problem of the planning stage of my next painting!
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