Posts Tagged ‘technique’

Just my style, Part 2

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In Part 1, two weeks ago, we recognized that one aspect of artistic style depends on the artist’s personality and way of viewing the world, selecting subject matter, and applying an intellectual and emotional approach suited to his or her nature.

Pink Hibiscus with Bud

Another aspect of style depends on mechanics of the craft—the way an artist typically uses both skill and available materials.  Each artist will resolve certain issues inherent in the painting process in a unique way by applying his or her understanding of the mechanics involved and the materials at hand.  For a painter, mastery of materials includes knowing what can be expected of the various types, sizes, and shapes of brushes; pigment characteristics and typical interactions; characteristics of various painting surfaces; supplemental materials such as frisket, screens, sponges, drawing implements and mediums, and so much more).

An artist’s style will reflect her level of mastery of technique and her understanding of the medium.  Understanding and control of those mechanics and the characteristics of the materials being used will influence her decisions when it comes to problem solving.  If she typically wields her brush a certain way, or uses a characteristic selection of colors, or consistently applies certain techniques to her work, these elements will eventually become a trademark of her style.

In Part 3 we will look at the importance of the artist’s personal aesthetic.

A different look at an old subject

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Last time I wrote about the value of using an unfamiliar subject to break out of a rut and to experiment with different techniques.  This past week I used some of the same “new” techniques on an old subject to see how the results compared.

Pink Waterlily and Pad

I chose a water lily that I thought I could give a more effective treatment using wet-on-(really)-wet rather than the wet-on-dry and wet-on-damp approach I’d used before.  Using the wetter method, I found that the colors flowed in such as way as to allude to a more rounded shape, with fewer distracting brush marks.

For the more recent version (#100503), I used warmer colors and a larger format than in the earlier version (#060901) shown below.  Which do you like better?

Pink Waterlily

I still find myself trying, out of habit, to return to the faster, more direct method, but I think it’s worth taking the extra time needed for the wetter technique.  The process takes longer to allow for thorough drying between sessions, but I find the results more pleasing and the illusion more convincing.

What does a new subject matter?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Cayman Cockerel

I’ve been having fun painting various animals this spring, including this colorful rooster.  His lines and blend of colors intrigued me, so I was inspired to reproduce his likeness in watercolor.  Typical of birds throughout Grand Cayman, I found this one strutting his stuff in Hell.  (Yes, that really is the name of a village there.)

When I paint the same subject repeatedly, I tend to get into a rut, using the same techniques and similar colors.  When I try a new subject like this one, however, it’s easier to break out of that rut to try new techniques, experiment with color or lighting, and give myself a chance to really grow as an artist.

In this painting I used more wet-in-wet painting technique than I have had a tendency to do in the past.  I didn’t entirely abandon my wet-on-dry technique, incorporating it for the sake of feather texture.  I also used masking fluid in some areas and found it beneficial to lift some of the color, particularly in the tail and wing feathers and to soften the edges of the masked areas.  But I also took the opportunity to play with the foreground a bit, splattering it with various colors of paint, echoing those used in the bird, to simulate gravel.  The background wash has also been lightly sprinkled with clear water to add texture and interest to the understated haze.

Like many pictures I’ve taken of animals, the photos did not come out exactly as I would have preferred, but I was able to make necessary adjustments for the sake of the painting.  The bird’s body was incorporated from one photograph; the face and wattle (resized to fit) were from another.