Self directed practice. Here it begins. For starters, here are the slides from my talk on Singaporean painters.
Space! The final frontier! So far we have addressed the two genres: the landscape and the portrait. These are spatially simple: essentially isolated objects within a void. This lesson will address something more spatially complex: the landscape.
The warm and cool primary pallet will be introduced. This is the ‘colourful’ pallet. Some of you will like it, some wont.
How to use photo reference will be introduced. You will be using a laptop or tablet in class.
Painting on grey primer with white impasto. Painting from the model. Taking photographs as reference material.
On this day the course content will be introduced and you will do your first painting.
The difference between different types of paint is an important one. Many of the visual aspects of a painting are dependent upon the particular type of paint that was used in its manufacture.
It is common that as you are painting, much of the paint that you apply will not be used straight from the tube, rather it will be mixed. This mixing can take place on the canvas or on the pallet. Most of the ‘serious’ mixing will be done on the pallet with the fine-tuning being done on the canvas. The science of mixing is simple enough…
Consider this: in Rembrandt’s time, if an artist wanted to evaluate the lightness values of a painting distinct to its color component, the only option was to view the painting in candlelight. The dull light leeched most of the color values from the painting.
You are young Singaporean creatives, and as such you have a duty (yes, duty) to acquaint yourself with what is happening now in creative culture, especially that of the part of the world in which you live. For this you would be wise to visit the notable contemporary art galleries and art spaces that pepper Singapore. There is another good reason to visit art galleries:
As well as referring to the surface upon which you will mix your paints, the term pallet also refers to the selection of paints that you have chosen to paint with.
When you are standing in front of a thing and are painting that thing, you are performing a minor miracle: the transference of the optical appearance of the 3D world onto the flat 2D surface of a painting. This is otherwise known as painting from observation.
In order to explore a territory one must first be able to map it and in order to do so one must be be able to conceive of the territory clearly in your head. This you might describe this as being the ‘thinking space’ of that territory.
I have talked about how you might think about the color values of a painting. I have talked about what paints you might use to paint a painting. Now I am going to talk about how you might use them. I shall do this by addressing one, simple term: contrast. Contrast is a simple word to say, but a most complex beast to define.
It is often the case that we need to transfer the schematics of a 2D image (a drawing or photograph) to a canvas. There are a number of ways to do this. Traditionally, something called ‘gridding up’ was done.
In the duration of this course there will be slide shows many of which will be illustrated with key examples from western painting art history. These will mostly be taken from pre-modern (i.e. before 1880) art. Why should you, as young Singaporeans, be in the smallest bit interested in the work of old, dead, Europeans?
An image has in common with a word or a sentence the fact that it can ‘mean’ something. However, a word will contain a meaning in a different manner to the way that an image contains a meaning. Continue reading
Representational painting requires that the illusion of depth be wrought upon a flat surface. This illusion is not accidental and is effected through a ‘box of tricks’ which are one of the most important tool sets of a painter.
One of the crucial differences between a drawing and a painting is that a painting usually requires more careful consideration of its 2D spatial qualities. In a drawing we might carelessly place a rendering of a figure upon the paper and give no consideration at all to the surrounding white space that extends to the edges and the four corners. In a painting this is less likely to be true. This consideration is called composition. It may be considered to be a conscious organizing of its many spatial atributes.
A painter’s work environment is as well organized as a surgeon’s: things need to be in the right place at the right time. This environment includes such things as the palette, the easel, the painting stage and the lights. What function do these objects serve? How is this space managed?
What’s the difference between a filbert brush and a flat brush? How is a Chinese ink brush different to a western oil paint brush? What is the difference between a painting knife and a palette knife? What is the difference between a portable pallet and a studio palette? Why should this difference matter?
In the entire history of art, very few painters have made their paintings entirely from prime reference. In other words, not many painters have just stood in front of something and painted it. There is a degree of invention to all painting, but given the degree of freed that art entails, most artists would rather paint dragons and rocket ships than tea pots and bored models.
Indirect reference material you might better know as ‘inspiration’. To my mind inspiration is too vague a term and implies a process over which we have little control.
Photographs can be used as preparatory material, in the same way that sketches and drawings can. They deserve special attention because of the unique place that photography has in painting history.
In the entire history of painting there are very few painters who have relied entirely upon prime source material. In other words, few artists have just stood in front of something and painted it.
Most students will do their paintings on commercially prepared canvases or painting boards. In doing so they are handing over to the art manufacturers the responsibility of deciding the size and proportion of their painting (as well as the qualities of the primer). These values are too important for anyone but the artist to decide.
Paint is a physical material, composed of pigment, binder and (sometimes) an extender. It is often combined with dilutent (e.g. linseed oil). Additionally, the manner in which paint behaves is, in part, dependent on the surface it is painted upon, as in the case of using the primer or underpainting to supply the white values in a painting. The painting can also be treated after it has dried, with varnishes or glazes. The many ways that paint can be applied are almost without bound and all are dependent upon these physical qualities.