Meeting Notes, Thursday, April 6, 2017

At today’s meeting Christine E. (new) Joanne T, Anna, Tom K, Loretta U, Tedd, Tom D, Tim, Jerry, Mike, Lisa, Diane, Vicki, Kathy L, Kathy J, Jeanie, Loretta L, Ward, Genie, Jim, Dave, Sharon, Eunice, Joanne K, Kristina, Elo, Kristine and me Celeste.

Todays suggested table topic: Composition and the 60/40 ratio or 80/20 ratio or one third/two thirds ratio. Do you think about this while you’re painting? Do you have any examples?

Celeste: In Za’s workshop she talked about something called “Mama, Papa and baby”. We were asked to look at paintings that incorporated big shapes and big values and find the “Mama, Papa and baby” in each painting. (Planning elements like this will create the 60/40 ratio). I sometimes don’t think about the ratios when I’m paining and that’s when I can unwittingly divide the canvas in half. Recently I changed one of my plein air paintings to relate to the 60/40 ratio.

Ward: The first photography book I read was all about the compositional rules. And I think most books are like this --in the very back of the book you find a passage that says something like now forget everything you learned about the rules. (Laughter)! Composition is knowing all the rules (and then often throwing them out).
There is a ratio that exists in nature that is also referred to as Fibonacci or the Golden Mean. Many believe that the numbers of everything relate to everything else (like the seeds in a sunflower, for example, relate to the rest of the universe).
There is something called sacred Geometry.
I am showing recent plein air paintings from my trip to California to remind you that there is sunshine!

Loretta L:  I don’t think that I “get” instruction well from books! I do better if I can watch someone do something and then do it! I like learning about composition from in-person teachers.

Genie: I did not bring anything today. I did bring some papers that I printed after researching some of this on the Internet. I found it really interesting to read about.

 Kathy: I am showing a painting that I did in Jennifer Diehl’s class. Her still life set up is carefully designed.

 Vicki: I don’t want anything to do with math! Laughter! I really couldn’t find any good examples in my own work. I am showing a grid that I use to decide where a focal point might be.

Diane: I am a former graphic designer, so I learned a lot about composition. However, it does not come as easily to me as an outdoor painter.. I am showing two paintings. One is how I would normally paint a tree out of doors. The other is painted how I would like to paint the tree outdoors! I like thinking about how division and  ratio can make for a better painting.

Lisa: I do put a mark in the middle of my canvas to avoid the middle! If I don’t do that I might actually place something there. Recently I used a friend’s photo reference to do this painting. I think that it might be a pretty good example of 60% 40%.

Mike: I am back from a trip to Seattle. What I learned was when you drive the speed limit everyone passes you. (Laughter)! People are all going to the same place but some are breaking the rules! I took a workshop with Eric Weigant. What he stressed most was to consider dominance. Have dominance (like with value, color, shape) and the ratio will work out favorably (as a byproduct).

Jerry:  I generally will let my intuition guide me. I am showing a painting that is divided into thirds (with variances to break it up). In my studio I might think about 3 objects or 5 objects for a painting (to make sure that things aren’t too uniform).

Tim: Friday was national crayon day. I did this crayon painting. I used crayons and a heat gun. Everything does seem to manage to drift to the middle. It sometimes works out really well. I am showing a painting where I do think it worked. (Applause)!

 Tom: I have no specific rules. But! I do see that two thirds sky or vice a versa is a good way to go. I like trees to penetrate the upper third of the painting. I’m showing a recent plein air painting.

Tedd: I always think about the one third rule. I am showing an oil on paper.

Loretta U: I don’t like much that has to do with math! I do know that humans like symmetry. ..for some reason we like things lined up, but that can make a dull painting. Still,  the Milky Way is the same distance one Direction as the other. So, so we need to follow  some math rules --it’s galactic law (laughter)! I will sometimes find something in the center of my painting…. and then I will have to move it.

Joanne K: I have some books on this topic to pass around-- I think about whether or not I am painting a Land painting or a Sky painting.  I have been doing the 30 day April challenge on Facebook and I have been working with notan. I have been doing notan marker designs every day and thinking about the dark in the light of the painting. I recently did this plein air painting. I will use what I learned from it to inform my next painting.

Anna: I used to do the tic-tac-toe grid every time before painting….to determine where I would put a focal point.. I can nearly be finished with a painting and then realize—oh oh—that big element is right in the middle!  (Laughter)! recently I’ve been doing 5 x 7 black and white studies. This is very helpful. It doesn’t take much time and all and makes the color version much less of a struggle. I’m showing recent paintings.

Joanne T: I really like Richard Schmid. You can take one of his paintings and change it into black-and-white and wow --it's always brilliant. He seems to always put a lead-in into a painting. There's just so much to know. I did bring one paining to show you what not to do (laughter)! I took it to a critique session and it was pointed out to me that it was really cut in half. I am showing another painting where I did a better job of dividing the canvas. (I will be gone after this meeting for a little while I’ll see you in about a month). Editor’s note: see you when you return, Joanne!

Geri: This is a great topic for me, very timely--! I notice lately that I will “correct” a composition when I post it online (I’ll crop it how it looks better). That’s a bad habit and a sign that I should be paying better attention to get it right the first time. I am showing a painting I did from a photo reference and a recent sketch.

Tom K: I honestly don’t want to follow any of these types of rules, but my wife tells me that I am in denial (Laughter)! On this subject, I got to work with a celebrated film director –in his films, you’d recognize that he was partial to a 90%/10% ratio. (It all depends on how much drama you want).  

Christine M: My background is graphic design, but I do find when outside that I can easily forget lots of the standard rules. I use a sketchbook to remind me about “a lot, mostly and a little”. I have been reading a book on classical painting and the section on composition almost made my head explode (Laughter)! I am also showing a pen and ink sketch and it is relevant to include that we should consider margins and how they might relate to a frame. (Editor’s note: Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of this).

Kathy L: I brought a painting that employs one third ratios. I think about how to divide the space each time I paint.

Kristina S: I first consider the horizon line. I painted this in Rome. I want to show this “hack” (Styrofoam tubing from home depot that when cut up provides protection for frames). I used this system to transport 30 paintings recently.
Article on tubing for frames:

Elo: I need to work on composition --it is a weakness. I will focus on it in the future!

 Eunice: I use the thirds vertically, not horizontally. Yesterday I started reading a book that I got many years ago and I want to recommend that you all read it too--- it’s called The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.

Dave: if it has to do with math = UGH! (laughter)! The thing about painting on panels ---you can cut it into a good composition “later” (laughter)! I’m showing paintings that I did recently in Colorado. I use my hands for a "cropping" tool in the field.

 Jim: I need to focus on composition more. I have been focusing on edges on the Facebook challenge. I painted these paintings recently.

 Jeanie: I am always aware of the thirds. I do mostly “sky” paintings.


 Dave McBride will sell his oil paints (because he has switched to acrylic) watch this page:

 Lavender festival sign up here

 Tonight First Thursday, Kristina Sellers reception 13th and Hoyt at Sotheby’s
Kristina in Cascade magazine: Congratulations!

 Tonight First Thursday at OSA Mark Andreas with a classical guitarist.

 Friday OSA Joanne Kollman class “Surface preparation” starts at 9 AM to 12:30 PM 
model session 1 to 4 PM OSA

Art  on the Boulevard First Friday

 Tedd Chilless tells us about a new app called color snap by Sherwin Williams  (helpful for all types of painting):

Tedd recommends putting saran wrap over a painting—then paint on top of the Saran wrap to see how changes would affect the painting.

 Ward Stroud (and other) classes:

Jerry tells us that Susan Kuznitsky was featured in “Informed Collector” (Congratulations, Susan)

 Scott Gellatly is featured in Artist’s magazine (Congratulations, Scott)

Thomas Kitts Aimee Erickson and Brenda Boylan at Olmstead 

Congratulations all participating artists for Pacific NW Plein Air 2017 (Maryhill Museum)

 Next meeting April 13 suggested table topic: “Capturing the Light” –what is your best advice for how to represent “light” with paint? Tell us about your experience (painting shining light on water or objects or figure). Let's discuss!

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