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Old 09-29-2009, 07:40 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Hey everyone, have you seen the most recent issue of The Pastel Journal? The cover artist, Marla Baggetta, did 100 paintings of the same scene to jump-start her motivation and get her creative juices flowing.

Marla did this: 100 paintings, on a small scale (10x10”), done in 30 minutes max, painting one per day. She chose a composition, rather than using a photograph, and focused not on seasons or times of day but color and value changes. She used mixed media to keep things interesting, using watercolors, oils, and alcohol washes over pastel as underpaintings on Wallis paper, working over those in pastel. She let go and tried some very creative things—putting value on the experience of making the painting, instead of the finished piece. She worked in high key, low key, complementary colors and monochromatic colors. She mentions that as her portfolio grew she felt a sense of accomplishment. You can go look at her work here if you don’t have the magazine. Marla Baggetta: 100 Variations

I LOVE this idea and decided to challenge my students to do something similar, starting on October 1, so I thought I'd challenge you all to join us!

Here's my proposal. I'd like you to make a commitment in writing , posted here in this thread, to the number of paintings you'll do per week, listing the size you plan to use and the maximum amount of time you'll devote to each piece. I suggest keeping the paintings small enough that you can complete them in a short amount ot time, since the idea is to stay fresh. Remember--you're going to repeat the same image over an over, varying only the colors, values, or techniques.

Here's your contract (fill in the blanks):

Quote:
I will paint
_____ paintings per week for the month of October
in this size: _____
and in this amount of time: _____
Signed: (your name)

Here's mine!

Quote:
I will paint
5 paintings per week for the month of October
in this size: 9"x9"
and in this amount of time: 30 minutes
Signed: Deborah Secor

My idea is that we can each post our paintings in our own threads, and to keep the forum from getting too flooded I suggest one thread per person per week. Title your thread 'Challenge Paintings--week 1 ' and post one every day that you do one, depending on your commitment.

On October 1 my class is gong to work on several Notan designs for the image they plan to use and make their contracts out, so I propose you try to do something similar--that's why I'm posting this thread today. Think over what you might want to try, look through your photographs or think about the image you might want to paint from your memory. Look at Marla's paintings and see if they spark your interest. Then come on in and let us all know what you plan to do.

By the way, the idea here is to help each other get motivated, have some fun, maybe try some new approaches or materials, and encourage one another. When someone posts something they tried, it might give you an idea. We can build up one another as we share a common road!

I know you'll probably have some questions or ideas, so let's hash it out and see how this might work. What do you say? Are you game to give Variations on a Theme a try??? Hope so!

Deborah
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:47 AM
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marionh marionh is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

What a fantastic challenge Deborah . I'm in and if I don't add my name now I will um and er and not do it! So here goes
Quote:
I will paint
4 paintings per week for the month of October
in this size: 20x30 cm
and in this amount of time: 45 minutes
Signed: Marion Hedger

Is the idea to also show the reference in this thread, or in the first thread for Week 1?
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:06 AM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Hi Marion! So glad to have you on board with me in this.

Let's see... I think I'll show my ref and/or the thumbnail or notan drawings I do in the first week's thread, and then begin to post the paintings to that thread. The decision about what to repeat all those times is a tough one!

BTW, for anyone else who is thinking about joining, your 'signature' can be your user name. You don't have to reveal your identity here if you don't want to. So if you want to sign it using 'arteestica' or whatever your nickname is, that's good enough for us! (Oooh, I should probably check and see if anyone uses that name. Trust me, I just pulled it out of my mind...)

Anyway, I hope others are mulling over the idea and will come along, too. It's not necessary to begin tomorrow, unless you want to. some might want to come on board for a week or two...and threads like this never 'close', so feel free!

Deborah
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:04 PM
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Kathryn Wilson Kathryn Wilson is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Deborah - do they have to be in a square format?
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:38 PM
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Kathryn, you can choose your own size. I've chosen 20x30cm (essentially A4) to make it easier for me.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:41 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Oh no! Any format you want to use is fine. Any size, any parameters at all! I think the idea is to find a horizontal or vertical composition that works for you--and maybe any kind of real 'commitment' needs to be made subsequent to doing the beginning plans, notan, sketches, thumbnails, or whatever you need to do to figure it out. That's up to the artists who decide to take part.

Since we're here in the pastel forum I expect those who decide to come along will use pastels, but in my class we're open to all kinds of media. I may do some of mine in gouache, too, since that's what I'm able to work in more often these days. I thought I'd show the pastels here, which I also plan to use, and link to the gouaches I do over in another forum. So if anyone wants to use other media alongside pastels, I think that's fine, too!

I'm just offering a fun challenge to anyone who wants to jump in. Make it your own. Suggest changes you'd like.

But maybe there's just not much interest in this right now, which is really okay with me, too. Whatever!

Deborah
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:56 PM
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Deb, thanks for that link to Marla Baggetta's gallery! When you click on the first pic in the series, and then go through all 100 with the 'Next' button, the effect is really kaleidoscopic. Holy cow!!! A-mazing.

I was already taking a bit of a lose and lazy stab at this with pears as a general subject, but to stick with one composition and to see it through like that is quite a commitment. I mean you have to chose something that has enough meat-and-potatoes that it'll sustain you for 100 variations.

Fruit just ain't cuttin' it. . . .

Hmmmmm! It's tough to pass up such a good challenge.

Jan
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:00 PM
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Kathryn Wilson Kathryn Wilson is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

When I saw this article, I started to think about doing something of this sort to get me out of this block I am having - then the ol' square format really had me stympied.

Yes, the subject being painted many different times, for me anyway, needs to be simple but with enough variation to hold my interest - so I want to include a sky, trees, and water somehow.

Going on vacation next week and will be busy doing things other than painting - so I am going to keep my expectations low for the start of this challenge and later on may up the ante. I will be out of touch with no computer, so I will have to post when I get back.

I will paint:
3 paintings per week for the month of October
in this size: 9" x 12"
and in this amount of time: 30 minutes
Signed: Kathryn Wilson
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:18 PM
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Ooooh, it's a fun challenge Deborah!! I saw the article, really fascinating to see how different the paintings turned out. I'm tempted to join in, very tempted....I'll have to look through my photo's, maybe this could give me a jump-start into landscapes? I'd really love to do landscapes but find it so hard to get away from the detail-focus I seem to bring into everything I do. With a challenge like this it's not possible to focus on details, could be just what the doctor's ordered...

I'll give myself a little time to think.....I do have some ideas running already though...
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:32 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Kool, Kat. (Couldn't resist! )

Jan, I know what you mean. It takes some thinking to find the right composition, but anything is possible to do. She did landscapes, but if you composed with a pear or pears, and included some other shapes (shadow, table, wall, etc.) then it could become quite interesting. I could see some doing a figure(s) or still life or animal(s). It really just requires a set of interesting and compelling SHAPES, I think.

We're going to start with notan, which uses three values to determine the composition, but one of the things I think is important would be to design something where you could plug in any of the three values into any of the shapes and still have a varied and compelling composition. In other words, it isn't the values, but the SHAPES. As you go through Marla's 100 variations that becomes clearer. You can see the transposition of values and how it doesn't change the impact.

So I think it requires a composition that balances simple shapes that can then contain variables inside those shape areas. For instance, look at the differences between variations #16, 17 and 18 on Marla's page. Click back and forth to see how the values change, the comp stays essentially the same, and the textures, colors and gestural strokes are quite varied! Simple shapes. Varied values. Varied colors. Varied textures and strokes.

Maybe you can tell that I'm in the process of working all these things out, too! Fun stuff, IMHO.

Just to inspire and maybe lend a bit of aid, I'll show you two sources of inspiration that I'm mulling over as possibilities.

First is this photo I took last year. I've played with contrast and cropped it to a square and reduced it to grayscale.



I like a lot about it but as I do the notan I expect to tweak shapes and values more.

And this is a painting by Edward Wesson (1910 – 1983) called On Exmoor, which I have simplified, flipped and reduced to grayscale, too.



I chose it because I liked the sky, tree and sweeping ground planes, but as I do my notan I expect to make it my own. Of course, I also have to make it into a square format.

Anyway, as I develop this I'll post a thread with my sketches in it, too. Hope that's of some help!

Deborah
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Last edited by Deborah Secor : 09-30-2009 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:40 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Merethe, take your time, but I hope you join in! It would be a good way to launch on a new realm of subject matter. You'll see above that I decided to consider a painting I found inspirational, too, and just respond personally to what I liked about it, so it doesn't have to be a photograph. In fact, a photo might engage too much 'copying' of details! Up to you, of course, and just a thought...

Deborah
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Old 09-30-2009, 03:19 PM
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

This sounds like a very interesting challenge! Not only to pick a composition but to make a different picture from it each time and keep to the elected contract. Like Merethe I think it could help me break into landscape AND to loosen up a lot more. I'm a detail freak which is probably why I don't really succeed with landscape.
I'm teetering on the edge of joining. I will go and look at some photos now!
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Old 09-30-2009, 03:39 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

*gentle shove* Hope you decide to give it a go, Ruth!

Deborah
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Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
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Last edited by Deborah Secor : 09-30-2009 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:17 PM
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Deborah,
After reading that article in the PJ about Marla's 100 paintings and seeing them I knew I wanted to do something similar so this is great! My biggest challenge besides finding the right pic from my stash is to figure out how to post pics here. I haven't done it yet! Chris will help me with it though, so I'm not too worried. I do have to figure out how many to do a week and the format and size. I've been pretty sick the past three weeks and am still not quite right. Well, I never am as I have FMS and CFIDS pretty severely, but I do want to participate in this. We just moved a month ago and my studio is finally set up enough to paint. Still lots to do, but as long as I can paint in it its fine, the rest can wait! LOL! I will get back to you as I decide on the numbers etc. Thanks for posting this challenge. For me I hope it just helps me be a better landscape painter as I will pick a landscape for sure.

Thanks again!

Sara
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:58 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: ***I CHALLENGE YOU*** Variations on a Theme

Great, Sara.... !!

Deborah
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