Today's suggested table topic: starting painting and/or blocking in.
Celeste: I brought an article from an artist about how (perhaps) you should be massing-in instead of drawing lines to begin a painting. This is from a book by Greg Kruetz. Za also showed us this in a workshop (the difference between drawing in a drawing fashion and painting in a “form” fashion). It seems to me that sometimes drawing in a linear fashion is warranted and other times massing-in is warranted. I brought in a recent painting of the Gorge and a sketchbook cover that I painted with a Sargent copy.
Kay: I brought in a "pop quiz”! Since I have taken a number of workshops it just so happens that I have photographed a number of artist’s starts. I am showing this to you and asking you all if you can identify which artist goes with which start! I will pass it around and we’ll discuss in the end.
Jerry: I have to draw before I can paint. I always sketch the idea first in graphite into my sketchbook. I brought in my sketchbook. I learned from William Hook (watercolorist) that you can take an iPhoto photo and sketch that. That is a wonderful way to study composition. I have brought in a finished painting that I did of southern Utah.
Charlie: I find an underpainting is useful. It is great for me to do the underpainting and prop it up and look at it for awhile before I do anything further. I am showing a pastel today and I won't send it around because it is a pastel. (Editor’s note: Sorry, Charlie I didn't get a photograph of your pastel drawing, please send me a photo of it so I can include it in today's blog).
Judith: I am better at drawing than painting. I am not good at blocking-in (yet). I have been copying some watercolors. I copied these watercolors and then I did an oil painting from them.
Mike: Well, you say “blocking-in" and that is not a term that we watercolorist's use. I don't speak in “oil”! (Laughter)! Jerry, you are bilingual because you working both watercolor and oil (Laughter)!
This is my discipline: I take a sketchbook and I do a rough sketch... I am trying to get my composition together and to decide what is light and what is in shadow. I do this and then I lightly pencil in on my watercolor paper what I'm going to do. I told you last time we met that I am going to be painting bigger. I have brought in two recent (bigger) paintings that I did plein air. I am trying to get my discipline down.
Eunice: I draw-in and then I block-in. I have been working on my photographs/paintings from Smith Rock. I do block in (mass in) the color that the object actually is. In other words if I am blocking in a rock shape the local color of the rock will be evident.
Loretta: I don't draw, so I must be blocking! (Laughter)! When I have tried in the past to sketch with thinned oil, I have not liked the process. I do understand that getting points of reference in is most important and I manage to do that without thinned oil.
Thomas: Some people say that if you are using line you are drawing. I don't define it that way. When you begin what is important is what is dark and what is light and what is in between. To me, line is shorthand for form and there is nothing wrong with using it in the beginning. I like looking at Celeste sketchbook where she copied some Sargent drawings. She looked at how Sergeant connected the darks. That is thinking like a painter instead of thinking like a draw-er. So when you are faced with an eyelash why not go to the larger shape because the small shapes are going to be obliterated anyway! When it comes to drawing in a linear way for painting or blocking in a mass... you should plant your flag in one camp. Don’t be indecisive. I am showing a plein air painting that I did when I was in New York in Central Park. I did draw this in in order to get all the positions that I needed. (As a matter of fact I used “sight size”). The best thing any painter can do is to set up and do a lot of still life. Still life is so relatable to landscape... but it's better, because it doesn't move and it is under a controlled lighting situation. It is wonderful for practice. I recommend that you look up Julian Merrow-Smith. John Cage is quoted as saying “Start Anywhere”.
Tim: “Hi, my name is Tim and I'm a blocker”! (Laughter)! I like to block-in very quickly. This painting is one I did at Lewis and Clark with the Tuesday painters and I did a second one of Goldenrod.
Betsy: I made an error recently and purchased 300 # watercolor paper. I never buy paper that expensive, but when I used it I really liked it so perhaps I'll become a convert. Also, it is great when you are a watercolorist you can use the other side of paper. I spent half of my time looking at something and the other half painting it. I draw it in lightly and then apply the paint. I brought in a work-in-progress.
Jeanne: When I began the painting I sometimes tone the canvas…sometimes with burnt sienna and then I draw on top of that and then I wipe it out! (Laughter)! Really, I just like to establish the angles of what I'm looking at and I like to make sure I have it firmly in my mind. I've just returned from Sandgren's coastal paint out. It was wonderful to paint every day. I can't say enough good things about it. We painted three days at a Aceta Head. Then we painted at Cape Blanco, then we painted in Port Orford at a place called “The Heads". There was lots to paint, not just lighthouses. I painted boats in a parking lot. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Stephanie: I look into my view finder and if it is a complex scene I'll spend some time drawing on the canvas main lines. I'm most interested in seeing the color relationships, however, so I don't fuss over this at all. With landscape you have the freedom of moving things around and not being too overwrought about accuracy. Portraits, of course, are different. I am showing a "made up" landscape and another landscape I did recently on Sauvie island. The most important thing is just "to start”!
Kristina: I “plan” in an abbreviated style for plein air painting. I use more careful drawing if I'm doing a studio painting. I am just simply not married to my initial drawing especially with plein air. I am showing you a recent plein air painting that I did with a palette knife. It was very windy that day.
Tom (Daniels): I work from dark to light. I use a medium brown generally to begin the painting. I start with the sky and then I go into the lower portion. I am aware of warm and cool from the start. I like to put in the extreme boundaries. Proportions are so important. Recently I was painting a painting and I thought I had a color problem when I discovered it was actually a proportion problem! (Laughter)!
I fixed the proportion problem and then had to go back and fix the color (Laughter)!
Kay: I can draw well with a pencil, but that doesn't seem to translate all that well to brush. I have taken a lot of workshops. I sometimes think about abandoning plein air. Will you throw me out of this group if I do!? (Answer: no!) I generally do a sketch in my sketchbook first. I recently have been thinking about how I need better quality paint. I looked up Old Holland and yes old Holland is plenty expensive. I ordered three Old Holland paints and did a color wheel with just those three colors. The results do seem superior.
(The pop quiz artist starts identification were provided--that was so much fun, Kay, Thanks)! AND it pointed out that there are many, many differing ways to start a painting.
Kristina will be at the Lane Gallery in September with her palette knife paintings.
Phyllis Trowbridge is giving a workshop at PCC in August. http://phyllistrowbridge.com/2015/07/painting-i-ii-landscape-emphasis-portland-community-college/
Thomas has agreed to be in a Portland show in December with Brian Marki. He will be showing with Anton. It is likely that he will show his work from Europe as well as some work from the Willamette River. Stay tuned. He will be attending his Artist's reception in Carmel. His workshop in Tuscany is in Sept:
The friends of easels meets on Mondays in the Gorge. You can always just show up with them.
For more announcements/events/groups/paint outs: our facebook page:
Pacific Northwest Plein Air starts next Monday follow the blog and Facebook:
(Plein Air Reception, Friday, August 7, 6-8pm)
Art in the Heart August 7
Plein Air at Washington County:
August 22 is a paint out at Villa Catalana email Burl if you're interested. firstname.lastname@example.orgThis coming Saturday is a paint out at Archer Vineyard from 11 to 4. Don't forget your sunscreen and water!
Today the Thursday drawing club met at Village Coffee because Medley Tea is closed due to repair.
Next week, Thursday, August 6: Suggested table topic: Your biggest mistake/error that led to a bigimprovement! Let's hear the specifics...let's discuss!