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You may hear me using the term “translation” in oil painting class and this is a relatively new in the
scope of oil paintng instruction and techniques for many artists. You look at a setup or
model which is exists in the visual world, then translate what you see
into paint. Much like you might do if you translated French into
English…during this translation process the words you choose will be
colored by the intention of the phrase. What is your intention? When I use
the word translation, I mean I want you to take the painting to a little
bit different, higher place than maybe what just copying could do. Once
in a while copying the subject is the highest place that the painting
could get to although, I would say in most times, that is not the case.
What I want you to do
is to look at the still life or figure, and look at how the light is
arranged, how the color is arranged, how you want the eye path to go, what
the movement looks like from light and value changes and decide what would
be the absolute best painting possible. You get to pick and choose what
flowers go where, or how you want the light to travel across the model
until you get exactly the effect that you want. Examples: – where do you
want the painting to have the brightest color, where do you want the
brightest light and what is going to be the best arrangement of the
elements of color, value, edges, paint application – thick and thin, to
yield the absolute best oil painting. Don’t save these oil painting instruction tips just for oil painting class but try putting notes on your easel to remind you to use these tips.
Not only are you
going to look at the set up, or the model, I recommend you look at
references and see how other people have done it and borrow any good
ideas. You then decide what would work well for this painting and that
would work better than what I am seeing in my photographs and better than
what I am seeing in reality.
Sowhen you are in an oil painting class take the best of
reality, take the best of photographs that you have, the best from your
computer screen, the best of reference pictures of other paintings (these
can even be paintings you have done) of similar types of things and you
combine them to create the absolute best painting possible. I hope you can take this little bit of oil painting istruction and use it in one of your next paintings. For more info like this check out my oil painting DVD series.
by Daniel Edmondson
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If someone had given you all sorts of numbers, like on a chalkboard, with parenthesis, plus signs, minus signs, multiplication signs and division signs, equal signs, brackets and they said “okay, here you go… Do algebra”. It would be very difficult to do algebra. But, if someone had demonstrated how to do algebra, it would be difficult, but eventually you could do it and you could grasp it. Painting is much the same way in that we put a model up in front of you, say a nude as in the classical way to learn (and it’s the hardest way). So, they give you a nude and then they squeeze out paints and they say “okay, do a painting”. Often oil painting class can feel just like this.
It is crazy to think that you could do painting immediately from life in an oil painting class. The shift I am looking for is in your understanding of painting. It is sort of like algebra. Painting is a translation; so to translate what you see onto your canvas with no real prior explanations, is nearly impossible.
So, here is what I want you to think about instead.now: “how I translate this – where do I want to go”. Do I want to do algebra that looks like Rembrandt, do I want to do algebra that looks like Alice Neal. Then you have someone that has explained it to you through their paintings and now you can translate it into your art using those lessons learned from the master’s paintings. For the parts that you can’t get from their paintings you and a great oil painting class art teacher can work together and figure it out. In Daniel Edmondson oil painting DVD algebra is easy.
Toning the canvas
The question, “what color should I tone my canvas” comes up periodically in class or from some on watching an oil painting DVD. This is a very good question. Toning can work for you and often times I see it work against people. First, I think that you should tone your canvas in the color harmony or the color that you usually work with. For example, David Leffel normally tones his canvas with a greenish brown color and most of his backgrounds are either greenish brown or black, usually very dark. These dark colors work well for him so that when he mixes a paint and puts it on his canvas not only is he going to fit it into the same color harmony but very much the same value structure as well. Now, if you paint outside you may want to tone your canvas with blue or green so it doesn’t work against you. The solution is to think about what you normally paint your paintings with – what color harmony and what key. Your paintings should be toned with those colors.
Another note on that same topic of toning is that a lot of people like to put the compliment down as the tone and they think that it gives it sort of a “sparkle” or electric kind of visual scintillation feeling when the painting is done and it is viewed because maybe it might be a green painting but there will be these transparent oxide red colors coming through or orange coming through. It is true that they do have that look when you are right on top of the painting but when you get back to painting viewing distance, where most paintings are viewed, the opposite happens because when compliments are viewed at a distance, they merge together to form gray. This has a tendency to make the painting look dirty. So, it depends on what your goal is. If it is entirely for your experience of painting and you like the way that it looks while you are painting and you don’t really care what it looks like from viewing distance then that is a good technique for you. But, if you want it to look good from a distance as well as up close then you might want to rethink using compliments because as the impressionists taught us, the colors optically blend together when we back up.Read More
When we watch an oil painting DVD we often watch the artist with great envy over his talent. We do not know anything about his/her wiring and what makes them tick. We watch and see them do paintings that may or may not be something we ourselves would enjoy the process of painting.So the expression, “I may not know art but I know what I like” probably is more applicable to artists than anybody.
On another note, you may like a certain look of painting, for example you might like super hyper realistic painting but you might find it too tedious to do it. What you like and what your actual experience in front of the easel is may not be compatible. But, most likely if you love something you will enjoy the painting process as well. Not always. And, the painting process is ultimately what counts because that is how you spend your life. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of paintings that you don’t own anyway because all you own is the process, not the painting. So the next artist oil painting DVD you watch see how you would feel painting not the painting but the process.Read More