Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Good Rule

A good composition always makes a painting or photograph a more interesting piece of artwork. Besides the subject and colors being used, composition plays a big role in the project. An easy rule to follow for a good composition is to use "The Rule of Thirds." This is an easy rule or guide to follow without getting hung up on the mathematical formulas of the Golden Ratio, aka the Golden Mean, The Divine Proportion, and I'm sure there are others. For many years, designers, photographers, videographers and painters have been using the rule of thirds for good compositions of their work/designs. Please keep in mind this is just one type of compositional technique that can be used. There are others such as formal balance, and the imbalanced. The rule of thirds technique is an informal balance composition from which I prefer to use.

The rule of thirds is the process of dividing your canvas or whatever support you may be using into thirds. Divide your support into thirds with two imaginary vertical and horizontal lines on your support. Anywhere the imaginary lines intersect is the location your main center of interest should be placed or at least close enough to it. During the design phase it's always a good idea to look for pointers that will help lead the viewers eyes to the center of interest. It could be a tree line, path, tree branch, shadows or if your subject is something other than a landscape, try to arrange elements to point the viewer to your center of interest ie; drapery, edges of furniture, wall, chair, etc. You do not have to paint everything that you see out there either. Use your creative license to add or subtract elements in order to make your painting an overall better composition.

When I am taking pictures for possible studio works I also use the rule of thirds while taking the photographs. As I am looking through my viewfinder of the camera I will turn the camera vertical and horizontal, zoom in, and out if needed in order to look for a good composition while using the rule of thirds technique. This saves a step in the design process later when you are looking through photos for possible painting subjects. You can still use this technique with older pictures by doing some cropping in the photographs. So, the next time you are designing your next masterpiece, keep the rule of thirds in mind for a better composition. Now let's paint!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mixing Colors

Mixing colors on my pallet is not the only place I apply this process, I also mix my paints directly on the canvas, pushing two colors together in order to create a third or even fourth color. I usually pick up a dab of paint from my pallet, make a brush stroke on my canvas, go back to my pallet and pick up another color and mix it in with the previous stroke on my canvas. I will continue to push the paint around till I get what I was looking for. Try to keep in mind not to over mix the colors because then you will lose the color and might wind up with mud or a dull look to your paintings.

I never use the colors straight out of the tube. My colors are always a mixture of two or more colors from a tube. Besides the colors that I use for my pallet that I wrote about in one of my earlier articles, "Talk About A Limited Pallet", I make my own black or at least I should say a dark color that looks black in relation to its surrounding colors. I achieve this dark color by mixing raw umber, hunter green, cerulean blue and red. If I want a grey, I will add white to the dark color that I just made. For a true natural green I mix raw umber, and hunter green. Cadmium yellow is added to the green mix in order to get the different values of green. I also like to add a little blue to the green to show different types of foliage. I try not to use white by itself because white tends to be on the cool side. I will often mix just a little yellow oxide to my titanium white to get a warm white.

Above is a close-up of the red square area on the painting.

I try to use at least three different values of a particular color on an area I am working on, however four or more is even better. These values would be your dark-tones, mid-tones, and high-tones. Anything else between these tones is icing on the cake. I always come back at the end and add highlights here and there where needed.

Not being afraid of making mistakes is always a good attitude to have when painting. Sometimes this is the only way one will learn what works for them. Think to yourself, "My next painting is going to be even better because of what I have learned today in this painting session". Always try to do better the next time around. Remember what worked and what did not and before you know it your paintings will have that professional look to them. Now let's paint!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

To Tone or Not To Tone?

That is the question. Toning the canvas is something I got in a habit of doing for the majority of my paintings. Painting on a canvas that has not been toned could result in having to touch up those nasty little white specks of canvas peeking throw your finished art. What a waste of time having to touch up those areas and don't forget to match the touch up paint with the paint on the canvas. Now don't get me wrong, toning the canvas does not mean there aren't any specks peeping through. It's just that they won't be as noticeable if they are of a neutral color.

Some painters will tone their canvas in colors that best works with their pallet. These tones can be warm as in warm grey, sienna or yellowish tint or they can be on the cooler side like a blueish, green or violet color. Unless I want my colors to be bright and pop out for a particular type of subject, I usually use an earth tone on the sienna side on all my canvases. I mix in about equal parts of burnt sienna, raw umber, and yellow oxide.

After I get my mixed paint for toning, I apply the paint on my canvas with a 2" paint brush from the hardware store. After I apply the paint mix to the canvas, I go back and wipe it down with a cotton rag leaving a nice warm brown tone. Most of the time when I am toning a canvas I tone as many canvases as I can with the mix I made in order not to waste paint. I always use acrylic paints to tone my canvas mainly because I paint in acrylics. If you paint in oils it is a good idea to use acrylics for the tone because the acrylics dry real fast and you are ready to paint in no time.

Looks like someone needs a haircut.

Always a good idea to have extras.

Some of the advantages of toning a canvas are.

1. You don't have to touch up those pesky little white specks after your painting session.

2. You are not staring at a bright white canvas reflecting light in your eyes, especially if you are painting outdoors.

3. The paint applied to the tone canvas are closer to a true reading of the color you are laying down.

If you do not tone your canvas, a good practice is to lay the paint on thick. This will help alleviate the need for touch up in the end. So, back to the question, to tone or not to tone? This is a matter of preference. And what works for others may not necessarily work for you. It's just a matter of finding that which does work in your situation and through experimentation one can find that formula that best fits their needs. Now let's paint!