ART OF THE MASTERS Workshop Wonders!

Hello, Artists,

We thought you might want to see some of the work just completed at our first Art of the Masters workshop last week in Gilbert, Arizona.  Karen and I were so proud of our students’ success thus far.  Here are some pictures:

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Shelly H.  in early stages of drawing At the Fountain, after William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1897

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Shelley B. drawing The Laundress, after Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1761

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Teachers Marsha Gilliam (in the mirror) and Karen Schmeiser, with student Shelly H.

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Completed charcoal drawing~

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Completed drawing with partial verdaccio underpainting~

Below are the students’ drawings alongside actual paintings by Greuze and Bouguereau.  When completed, students’ works will look like these original works, and Shelley and Shelly will have learned much about seeing, drawing and painting during this process of copying the Masters:

P1110792GreuzeTheLaundress1761

P1110788BouguereauAtTheFountain1897

We hope you enjoyed seeing some student work, and hope you will be able to join us for our next event.  Where else can new artists get a five-day workshop with two teachers for $489?  We are in this to perpetuate the systems and processes of the Old Masters, and are planning another workshop in the fall, to be announced.

YOU CAN CAN CAN do this too,

Marsha and Karen 🙂

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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

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

 

PART 7, CLASSICAL ACADEMIC APPROACH, MIXING VERDACCIO

Before you begin your verdaccio underpainting, make sure you have completed everything you want to accomplish with India ink, charcoal, and gesso and/or gelatin in bas relief, so that your rendering looks as perfect as it can.  This functions as your value map for the underpainting, and if it is perfect, nearly everything at Value 5 and under can be quickly glazed, rather than painted.  Of course, the need for the perfect underpainting is that glazes are transparent, and everything will show through!

Look closely at the enlarged version of this drawing; can you see the areas where it seems to be especially white? Those are the places where, if you could run your fingers over the board, you feel the bas relief of the gesso that has been built up only in the areas you want to advance, to give the painting extra dimension.  Pretend you are a sculptor and pay special attention to areas like jewelry, headwear, the forehead, nose bone and tip, shoulders near the viewer, lower lip,  muscle structure, illuminated areas of dark garments, fabric folds that are closest to the viewer, and anything else you want to advance.  Make sure you smooth those built up edges so they blend smoothly into the board surface–you don’t want them looking pasted on.  You should not see the physical edges of the build up:

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Mixing verdaccio in nine values is the next step. Here is where you will make your life so-o-o much easier if you have purchased Frank Covino’s Controlled Palette.

PaletteFront

Before mixing any paint on the Controlled Palette, coat it lightly with olive oil.

To mix verdaccio:

*Put 2, 8″ strips of chromium oxide green on Value 2
*Put 1, 8″ strip of mars black on Value 2
(= 3 strips total on Value 2)
Mix together thoroughly for a “Value 2 verdaccio.”
Value 1 is comprised of equal parts of Value 2 with Mars Black.
Values 3 – 9 are made by the addition of Flake White to Value 2, then 3, etc. (aka a “color string”).

Then cover it with Saran Wrap (the most non-porous wrap in my tests) and put it in the freezer until you’re ready to paint. Even better is to buy multiples of the three colors and some empty tubes, and tube your mixtures. That way, you won’t have to mix it again for a year or more.

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All the best,

Marsha

P. S.  Just a note to let you know of an upcoming workshop

Hello, readers. The Arizona Renaissance Art Guild is hosting a one-week workshop with Maestro Frank Covino, art teacher extraordinaire. If you will be in the Phoenix area on April 6-10, 2015, we would like to invite you to attend and make some new painting friends.  The cost for the week is $695.  Respond to this post if you are interested.  We still have two spaces available.