ART OF THE MASTERS WORKSHOP

ANNOUNCEMENTArt of the Masters classical oil painting workshop, plus free additional day.

Karen Schmeiser and I are carrying on Maestro Frank Covino’s legacy by teaching workshops here in the Phoenix Metro. It was an important decision for us, and since each of us have studied with Frank for over twelve years and we both love teaching, we honor his memory by doing our part to assure that these Old Master techniques do not get lost.

  • Learn to paint like the Old Masters.
  • Receive the expertise of two instructors (Marsha Gilliam and Karen Schmeiser) as you learn the methods of the Old Masters in a 5-day workshop, June 27-July 1, 2016 Open to artists of all levels.  Get more instruction for your money.
  • Cost: $489.  If you check the prices of art workshops these days, you will find they cost nearly twice as much.  A supply list will be provided upon registration.
  • Also included at no extra charge is a free preparation day on June 20, 2016, to help you properly begin your drawing on your painting panel.

YOU can do this! The three most important things to bring with you are your patience, your determination, and an accepting mind.  Here are examples of what you can expect to achieve:

First painting by Karen Schmeiser:

KarenTheShepherdessBouguereau

Copy of The Shepherdess, 1866, after Johann Baptist Hofner

First painting by Marsha Gilliam:

MVC-004F

Copy of Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665, after Johannes Vermeer

The author and associate editor of the East Valley Tribune, Srianthi Perera, recently published this article about our upcoming workshop, and there is also an article about it just released in The Gilbert Sun News  https://issuu.com/timespub/docs/gsn_june_2016_issue:

MarshaNewspaperArticleEastValleyTribune5-29-16

We hope you will join us–it was a life-changing experience for us, and we hope it will be for you, too.

Sincerely,

Marsha and Karen

PAINTING WORKSHOP IS COMING UP

Hello, Artists~~

The author and associate editor of the East Valley Tribune, Srianthi Perera, just published an eloquent article today about our upcoming workshop.  Karen and I wanted to share it with you:

MarshaNewspaperArticleEastValleyTribune5-29-16

  • Learn to paint like the Old Masters.
  • Receive the expertise of two instructors (Marsha Gilliam and Karen Schmeiser) as you learn the methods of the Old Masters in a 5-day workshop, June 27-July 1, 2016.  Open to artists of all levels.  Get more instruction for your money.
  • Cost: $489.  If you check the prices of art workshops these days, you will find they cost nearly twice as much.

YOU can do this too,

Marsha and Karen

WE’RE STARTING TO TEACH WORKSHOPS–ALL LEVELS ARE WELCOME

ANNOUNCEMENTArt of the Masters oil painting workshop and Open House!!!

  • Learn to paint like the Old Masters.
  • Receive the expertise of two instructors (Marsha Gilliam and Karen Schmeiser) as you learn the methods of the Old Masters in a 5-day workshop, June 27-July 1, 2016.  Open to artists of all levels.  Get more instruction for your money.
  • Interested students are invited to an Open House, May 31, 7:00-8:00 p.m., where you will sign up for the upcoming workshop, receive needed info, and actually see painted models of what you will be creating. Light refreshments will be served.
  • Please RSVP for the Open House (see contact form below).

The three most important things to bring with you are your patience, your determination, and an accepting mind.

Karen Schmeiser and I have decided to carry on Frank Covino’s legacy by teaching workshops here in the Phoenix Metro. It was a big decision for us , but we feel that, since each of us have studied with Frank for over twelve years and we both love teaching, we owe it to him to assure that these Old Master techniques do not get lost.  Here is an example of what you can expect to achieve:

First painting by Karen Schmeiser:

KarenTheShepherdessBouguereau

First painting by Marsha Gilliam:

MVC-004F

YOU can do this too!

All the best to you,

Marsha

CARESSING A FOOT

I just completed this commission, The Apotheosis of Love, on the occasion of a wedding, and my patrons loved it.  It went on a plane to Boston:

PaintingMarshasTheApotheosisOfLoveGlazedCompletedRtchdP1110668

Here it is, framed, with brass title:

PaintingMarshasTheApotheosisOfLoveFramedGlazedCompletedRtchdP1110668

I especially addressed the front foot–I studied the subtle shadows that make it work–or not.  In the first foot picture below, the toes, nails, and veins still need completion, but the most important area that needed altering was on the top front.  It was just slightly too dark–not even half a value–but what a huge difference it made when I lightened it ever-so-slightly!  I am attaching a “before and after,” with the original model, just so you can see what I mean.  Here is the model:

PaintingRefApotheosisFeet

Here, the top front half looks flattened and scooped like a spoon because its value is too dark, even though I followed the model:

ApotheosisFeetStillNeedCompletedToesNailsVeinsCoveredWflesh

and here is the corrected version:

ApotheosisFeetCompleted

Yes, the overall tone of the pictures are different because one was taken at night, but it is the VALUE difference that counts.  The foot, with toes, nails, and veins, is completed in the second picture.  I changed nothing on the drawing itself.  Just the slight value change is all that mattered.

I will eventually come up with a step-by-step to share, but even then, it is mostly just a lot of work, time, and careful observation, stepping back six feet and comparing it to the model, squinting, looking at it through a mirror–you have to pull out all the tricks!  And even when you think you’ve nailed the drawing and the underpainting, the slightest color shift matters, even when the color values you are applying match the value of the underpainting perfectly.

Regarding the importance of slight color shifts, I have a theory that I can find no information about.  Perhaps it already has a name, but I am going to call it something like “How Color Shifts Value Perception.” I wonder if anyone else has observed this phenomenon?  Have you? It would probably be a boring topic for anyone but an artist.

I’m designing another painting that has a tight time limit for completion.  My Aunt Goldie will be 95 years old  in July, and I want to do a painting of her, quilting, since she has been an award-winning quilter all her life.  I have the references, we’re picking up the precut board tomorrow, and I’m doing a square format (24″ x 24″).  This is one of those rare occasions when traditional formats will not work, due to the length of the quilt frame in relation to her body.  I hope to have the drawing finished by the end of next week.   I’ll post it when I can.  There is only one hand showing in the reference, complete with thimble and needle, so it won’t be a good candidate this time for my step-by-step model.

Giclée prints from The Apotheosis of Love will be available soon, and I will write more on its conception in a later post.

Best wishes to you,

Marsha

RAINBOW HUES

We have already “hammered away” at the importance of Value, so this is a good time to introduce the set of terms devised by Munsell, that help us discuss and reproduce color:

Hue–the name of a specific color as it appears in the color spectrum.
Value–the specific darkness or lightness of a color.
Chroma–the specific intensity (brightness or dullness) of a color.

Color_Wheel_Finished_Website1

Here, we will address “hue.” Although there are many varied color wheel designs, Munsell incorporates ten basic hues that come from the color of light as seen through a prism, or the rainbow spectrum. By shaping them in a circle, they become the color wheel. They are:

red-purple, red, yellow-red, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-purple, purple

Every color falls into one of these ten basic HUE categories, or possibly between two of them, where reside the interhues.

Most artists have had at least one important teacher. Mine was/is Frank Covino. He designated tube names and value numbers for Munsell’s ten hues.

At first, you may be tempted to gloss over this list, but imagine going to the store and selecting the most useful green, red, or yellow, and then assigning its value as you go, all the while keeping in mind how the colors will all interact, and choosing those that work best together in the largest variety of situations–methinks not the easiest of tasks.  This work has been done for you, here:

Red-purple is Alizarin Crimson, which is a value 1 tube color.
Red is Cadmium Red Light, which is a value 5 tube color.
Yellow-red is Cadmium Orange, a value 7.
Yellow is Cadmium Yellow Light, a value 9.
Yellow-green is Pthalo Yellow Green, value 8.
Green is Cadmium Green, value 1.
Blue-green is Viridian Green, value 1.
Blue is Cerulean Blue, value 3 or 4 (depending on the brand).
Purple-blue is Ultramarine Blue, value 1.
Purple is Cobalt Violet, value 1.

These tube colors should visually disappear when placed on corresponding value numbers in the value chart (Don’t forget to squint, as discussed in the last post.).  If they look like freckles instead of disappearing, you know you either have them in the wrong place, or your value chart is not correct.  That’s why we use the Covino Palette–those values are already prepared for you to start using at once, without a lot of fumbling about.

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All the best,

Marsha

WORTH REPEATING

This subject was addressed a long time ago, but it is so critically important that it bears repeating. Of course, it’s about values because, without a thorough understanding of them, you cannot create significant paintings.

Many teachers assume that we all know what “value” in paintings means, so they don’t really elaborate and tell us HOW to see them. The concept is easy to understand when we’re talking about a greyscale, but extrapolate that to color, especially the various colors juxtaposed together to make a painting, and the values concept becomes murky.

You can make an entire painting a monochromatic green or even pink and, as long as those pinks have correct values, your painting will “read” and make sense to the viewer no matter what color you make it. Value is simply how dark or how light that color is.

Yes, but so what? Where’s the “how?” Well, first you have to learn to squint enough at something until the color disappears and you are left with a percentage of light. What amount do you see? Make your own value scale and go around your house placing it next to various objects; squint to make the color disappear so that you can just see the value of the object and not the color. This is a great way to train your eye.

Here is a value scale you can print, showing values 1-9 with the addition of black (which is the absence of light) and white. The lowest value is 1, or 10 % light; the next is 2, or 20% light and so on, up to value 9 at 90%, with white being 100% light:

value scale

When making a painting, values aren’t actual light, of course, but values create the illusion of dark and light in varying degrees (shadows and highlights). Value deals with the lightness or darkness of a color.

Here is part of Bouguereau’s Vendangeuse (The Grape Picker) in color:
Vendangeuse (The Grape Picker)BouguereauCropped
And here it is in greyscale, showing just the range of lights and darks (aka “values”):

Vendangeuse (The Grape Picker)BouguereauGrayscale

And here is the pink version:

Vendangeuse (The Grape Picker)BouguereauGrayscale

So, even in pink values, we still see the little girl, instead of a Botox Babe.

When we do a value-scale underpainting, we are separating the problems of seeing values in one hue vs. seeing those values in juxtapositions of many colors (hues). This makes the painting much easier to execute, and more accurate, because now you have a process.

And that’s why I say you must know how to see value because value analysis and then value duplication is the basis of all perception. It is the common denominator for the replication of all things, whether landscapes, still lifes, or portraits.

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All the best,

Marsha

 

CARAVAGGIO: CONTROVERSIAL NEW WORKS STILL QUESTIONED

CaravaggioJudith

photo by http://www.thepassionforart.com/2013/03/02/art-world-divided-over-caravaggio-100-works-discovery/

Researchers say they are keeping an open mind to the possibility that some of the 100 new works found in a Milanese castle are those of Caravaggio:

http://www.thepassionforart.com/2013/03/02/art-world-divided-over-caravaggio-100-works-discovery/

For back story on the original discovery and the ensuing controversy:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/too-good-to-be-true-the-caravaggio-conundrum-7936445.html

Did Caravaggio die of murder, fever, or lead poisoning from ingesting his paint?  DNA researchers have concluded he died in Tuscany of an undetermined illness but we’ll probably never know the answer for sure after 404 years. However, paleomicrobiologists have picked up the search, and as of late June, 2013, have so far discovered this:

http://cenblog.org/artful-science/2013/06/24/figuring-out-what-killed-crazy-caravaggio/

Here is a “what if” story about his probable fate, had he not placed himself in exile from Rome after his murder conviction (later pardoned by the pope):

http://caravaggista.com/2013/07/on-the-403rd-anniversary-of-caravaggios-death-what-if/

Whether researchers determine the newly discovered works are by Caravaggio, his teacher Peterzano, or a mixture of both plus Peterzano’s other students, an inexpensive reference has been published at only $6.50 per volume (not available in Italy) and you can preview it first. To find out more about  either of the two volumes, Young Caravaggio: One-hundred rediscovered works, V I and II (Kindle book only), go to:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=young%20caravaggio

The Arizona Renaissance Art Guild does one-week workshop intensives three times per year, and in addition, we get together to paint all day on the third Saturday of every month.  If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are interested in finding out more or possibly joining our colony, please let me know through this blog.  ~Marsha

PHOTOGRAPHS OF PAINTINGS AND CAMERA LENS DISTORTION

On our trip to the de Young and Getty museums last week, we took photos of paintings wherever possible. Of course I know it’s difficult for photography to capture the true essence of paintings and their myriad nuances of colors and values, but now I really know it. There aren’t many paintings like Girl with a Pearl Earring with which I have such intimacy, so arriving at a more complete understanding of this was a kind of epiphany for me.

During the painting’s latest restoration (1994), they discovered that Vermeer’s original background had a dark green enamel-like surface, accomplished through the application of glazes. However, the pigments available to him faded so much over 350 years, that the background looked blackish. This was corrected by the restorers and now, you can almost see the brushstrokes of the slightly sketchy transparent earthy-green glaze applied over the dark background underpainting.

Here is a photo of a high-quality postcard I bought, since the de Young did not allow photos of the special exhibit on loan from the Mauritshuis, particularly of the “Dutch Mona Lisa,” as she is called. They had her under guard at all times. Although a photo doesn’t pick up on the background color that well, can you see the slightest hint of  green?

VermeerGirlWithAPearlEarring

And here is a photo of the installation of Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Look at how the line curves where the floor and wall meet–this is an excellent example of barrel lens distortion:

vermeerinstall

And on the subject of picture taking, what photography can and cannot do has been discussed and written about ad infinitum, so I won’t go into it much here other than to say that if you are painting from photographs, a solid understanding of the way the camera plays tricks on you is essential. Certainly it matters the quality of camera and lens you use. However, beyond that, you must be aware of how all cameras visually distort images, and then make adjustments in the painting you create from these photos.

For example, make sure to adjust your composition to account for the camera’s barrel distortion (convex lines), pincushion distortion (concave lines),  flattening; and adjust for the fact that reds will “read” much darker in value than they really were when you took the photo. You can make these changes right on you drawing, or they can be adjusted in Photoshop first. We all love what cameras do for us, but be aware that edges will appear sharper and you will have to soften them in your painting to create recession in your work. As Frank Covino always teaches, “Don’t gray the shadows; gray the shadow’s edges.” You must soften edges where you want to round your images and make them appear recessional.

You can always tell when someone paints from photos and is unaware of flattening, for instance. The subject’s hands or feet will appear larger than they are in real life, and out of proportion with the rest of the figure, because hands or feet are typically in front of the figure. You must know this and make them proportionately smaller in your drawing to compensate and adjust sizes to their correct proportions. In other words, don’t make the hands as big as the head, even though they may appear that way in the photo.

You can find out more about the subject of camera distortion at this excellent site: http://www.kenrockwell.com/index.htm

Also, James Gurney at http://www.gurneyjourney.blogspot.com (the famous creator of Dinotopia) has provided an ongoing and wonderfully thorough exploration into how we humans see.

Something that struck me about these exhibits were that, no matter how much impasto the artist used, they began with the smoothest of canvases or boards. I looked up at various angles and marveled at how perfectly prepared they were. I can never seem to get mine that smooth but I continue to search for the trick to it.

Another thing that surprised me was Girl with a Pearl Earring‘s eye color; they are not light golden brown, or blue, or green, or gray. They are gray-blue with the absolute slightest hint of light golden brown, so difficult to describe. I stood there trying to figure out how he accomplished that and if I were trying to duplicate that color without causing the eyes to become greenish, I would paint them gray-blue first, let them dry completely, and then ever so gently, glaze just a small part of the reflected light area of the iris with a golden brown glaze. I still can’t imagine how Vermeer really did it, but that would be how I would approach it.

Below are some other photos (including 2 closeups) I took that you might enjoy:

A Banquet Piece, About 1630, Pieter Claesz, Dutch, 1596/97-1660, Oil on panel

“A shaft of light from an unseen window poetically illuminates the textures and surfaces of a few objects on a stone ledge. This type of still life, known as a “monochrome banquet piece” for its harmonious though limited palette of browns and grays, was an artful invention intended to astonish the viewer with its beauty rather than a portrayal of an actual meal. Imported items such as a peeled lemon and the overturned Venetian-style glass contrast with local oysters and the monumental Dutch drinking glass with a textured stem. Claesz’s nuanced rendering reveals his interest in optical effects, such as the reflected windowpanes and the fall of light across the luminous lemon rind.”  de Young Museum

PieterClaeszTheBanquetPiece

PieterClaeszABanquetPieceCloseup1

PieterClaeszABanquetPieceCloseup

Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, About 1606-10, Joachim Wtewael, Dutch, 1566-1638, Oil on copper

“Here the blacksmith god Vulcan pulls back the fine metal net in which he has trapped his wife, Venus, and her lover, Mars, exposing them to the laughter of their fellow gods. Like other Mannerist painters, Wtewael delighted in complexity and paradox. In this work he presents heroic figures on a tiny scale and Olympian gods in a compromising situation.”

JoachimWte

I had to take this photo through a glass case. I have been experimenting with painting on copper as many of the Old Masters did so, and saw the paintings on copper exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum many years ago. They are exquisite to this day, with no craquelure. Experts attribute this to the fact that copper expands and contracts at approximately the same rate and temperature as does traditional oil paint.

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.