A couple of very nice people have encouraged me to comment in more depth on my approach to art here; it would be an honor. That said, living as a full time painter and giving a modest art workshop in New York has required that I be careful of how I spend my time–with that in mind I hope you will enjoy and perhaps gain an insight or two from this very, very small tutorial.
Before I begin I would like to comment a bit on my experience. At 11 I fell in love with Rembrandt’s paintings and I have painted ever since, virtually full-time. I sold my first works at 17. The artists I have learned the most from besides Rembrandt have been the French Impressionists, Michelangelo, Picasso, and Vermeer. My goal as an artist has been to integrate fresh color, radiant atmosphere, anatomical yet natural looking forms and to imbue it all with my individual passion.
I have always loved teaching but have also kept it secondary to my art making.
Some months ago I had a catalytic aesthetic breakthrough I discovered the tremendous value of the triangulation light and dark. It has sped my realistic technique, intensified eye movement, and allowed for more subtlety than I could have imagined.
Here is one piece which fully realized this technique.
, 2006, oil on canvas panel, 9 x 12"
To create the feeling of light it is important to have a hierarchy of lights and darks. If you have several lights and darks of equal value spread over canvas you will surly kill off any life and excitement in your work. The problem is that it is very difficult to keep track of all the subtle shifts in tone. On the opposite side you can be so subtle and afraid to paint powerfully that you end up with a dull mess. So the answer, for me, is this triangulation of light and dark.
In this figure, I have circled the white plate, the “white” matt, and the “white” wall behind. Instead of painting them one at a time or separately, I triangulated those three white things. Meaning I compared the three of them simultaneously. What is important here is to hammer the hell outta your brightest white and then be more discreet with the others.
I did a similar thing with the yellow cloth. The back right corner is merely bright yellow, the bottom right is brighter, and the front corners were the brightest. All the other yellows are neutral, they do not compete in brightness with my top three. Again it is important to actively see and compare the three brightest areas, leaving the rest in a kind of no man's land, of neutrality.
Finally with the darks I did a similar comparison--finding my dark, darker, and darkest areas. Here the darkest with the area directly behind the plate and fruit, its as black ivory as I could make. Next is an area in the framed art piece on the easel, and then the shadow under the plate. Again it is important that the 4th, 5th, etc dark areas become simply neutral darks, not getting close enough in tone to compete against your darkest areas.
Do try it out on some of your works I believe you will see immediate rewarding results.