Once we checked in; brought in all our easels, supplies, etc, We gathered around Dan to hear him open the workshop. It was important for Dan to know what we needed to get out of the workshop. What is my current struggle? He also took some pressure off us by say that "no one paints their best in a workshop setting. What he hoped for us is that simple principles would emerge and continue when we get home and work.
Dan's goal to convey to us was to:
1). See the subject's absolute essence 2). Organize values 3). How to organize, to pull out the essential... what is important to the big picture. He warned us that he will say the same thing over and over. What was reassuring is the things he would repeat are the very same things that he tells himself, every day. Values, edges, temperature, good drawing.
He also strongly encouraged us to work from Life. It does make a difference in your paintings and is worth the extra effort. He prayed for the workshop. :)
Dan's Value/Color Study:
Simply beautiful isn't it? He recommended that we first do an 8x10 study where we set up a simple light and shade pattern. Put what is essential on there... The biggest thing, is to SQUINT! He wanted us to create a hierarchy of values to prioritize. Certainly drawing and proportion is important; but he was more focused on the hierarchy of values, edges, and temperature. For values first we are to squint to find the lightest light and darkest dark. Put those in right from the beginning to compare all the other values to. Then to squint again to simplify the form into 2 basic values by deciding what belongs to the light shape and what belongs to the dark shape. Next squint to look for a variety of hard and soft edges. Where is the sharpest edge? Put that in. Where are the softest edges? Where are they like vapors, disappearing into the form
My color study:
So how did I do? OK, I guess, but not as well as I hoped. When Dan paints and teaches he makes it look so obvious and easy. As you watch, you are sure you can paint better than ever. But this is not bad for a 1/2 hour study on the first day of a workshop. I will improve. Also, the important thing about a study like this is that I get the important notes that I will need to do a larger piece; the simple light and shade patterns, the sharpest and softest edges and temperatures of the light.
Additionally, this was like a quick practice and made the next full size piece go quicker and easier.
My Day One Full Size Portrait:
How did I do? Pretty good as well. It really helped me to do the color study first to practice the drawing as well as to organize my values, edges and temperatures in the cool north light. (The image looks warmer than the actual painting) Doing the small study first also took some pressure off of being nervous on the first day of the workshop. At home I spent a few minutes to do a few things to improve it. Warmed and darkened the hair in a few places and softened an edge on her right check.
Dan's Finished Painting:
Wow! So beautiful, poetic, so full of emotion and feeling.
To start he tones the canvas and finds shape the best with vine charcoal. It wipes off very easy for making corrections.
Start with the big picture: You don't want the head to be too big. Use the simplest straight angles and lines to get the basic shape of the head. Then a center line and breakdown further to locate the features.
He said "the Biggest Thing is edge variety and simplicity of value". What does that mean? Well, you don't want all of your edges to be equally soft or equally sharp. You want a spectrum of edge variation. As far as the values you want that simple separation between light and dark. Then you turn the form with warmer or cooler color. "If the values are not in range it will kill the effect of light."
Notice there are not lights that jump out of the shadow on her face or neck. Also note: the top left portion of the painting has glare on it, showing up to be blue. It is not in the original painting.
Stay tuned for day 2 and more...
Welcome to my blog and website. As you explore this site, you will see that I enjoy painting people, especially young women and children, often set in a landscape. My work has been included in various national shows. Read more in the About the Artist.