Get Your Paint On - Week 4: Composition

The painting class I was taking, Get Your Paint On, is over but I still have to finish my final painting. (EDIT: Here is my final painting for the class!) These are the paintings that I completed for weeks two, three and four and I am quite proud of them! (Week One is here.) I got some excellent feedback from my classmates and instructors in the Flickr group, and despite the madness that has been the last few weeks, with travel and life, I was able to get everything done and be happy with what I was able to produce. 

The painting above went through a remarkable metamorphosis, starting out as this. I had no plan and I just kept painting until I was happy with it. If I painted an area I didn't like, I would just paint it out with white or titan buff. I did that a lot, and the texture was built up and I really liked the layering process. I hope in the future to be able to direct myself more toward a goal like this, rather than flailing around and not knowing what I am working towards, but for now I am just enjoying the discovery and the process of painting. Here is what Lisa had to say about my painting,

"Wow. That's what I said when I saw this just now for the first time. I think you have some real talent as a painter, Leslie! The colors and composition here are just amazing. The texture is also fantastic. I love the little moon too. My only suggestion is that the barn/house is a tiny bit vast and takes over a bit. I am wondering if the space would be broken up a bit if you added a window on the side the same color as the door? but further up? I think that would help the composition slightly. - Lisa"

For the painting below, the beach scene, I actually did have a clear idea of what I wanted to paint. I sketched the scene out on paper first and I knew exactly what kind of colors I wanted to use. I really enjoy the color mixing process and I think all the experience I have had as a photographer and designer really helps me here. I see and think in colors all the time. I was so thrilled to see that this painting was selected by Mati and Lisa to be highlighted in the final class blog post! I included what they had to say about it below.

Get Your Paint On - Week 3: Color #1

From the Flickr pool: "There is quite a lot I like about this painting, Leslie. I love the colors, first. It's a really nice balance of warm and cool. I also think the composition is exquisite. I love the juxtaposition of the diagonal line with the straight line and how the line of the sign mirrors the diagonal line of the beach. The tiny ship is just the perfect amount of detail. This is very Edward Hopper to me. Anyhow, my only feedback is that I'd like to see more shading on the sign to make it appear as if it's popped forward a bit. The tricky thing is we haven't "taught" this yet, so I hesitate to even give this feedback! I'm wondering if even the slightest, thinnest dark great line around the edge of the sign would help move it forward a bit? Other than that, I think it's almost perfection. - Lisa"

From the class blog: "Here are some things that make this painting successful:
+Color: Variations in blue. Nothing is entirely flat. And yet it has a soft, flat feel to it. Balance of warm and cool colors, but cool dominates. 
+Composition: really wonderful placement of everything -- from the sign that is slightly diagonal to mirror the beach line, and the horizon line with a ship far in the distance. Nothing competes in this painting. Everything is in perfect balance.
+Consistency: This painting is consistent. It's flat but it's also painterly (which is really hard to pull off successfully) and every element has the same level of paint application and brush stroke. I feel like every inch of the canvas got the same attention. Nothing is "underworked". 
+Subject matter: this painting is narrative. We are forced to ponder: "what's happening here?"
Awesome piece. - Mati and Lisa"

After all that positive feedback on both paintings I felt awesome, and thought that maybe I can do this art thing in a meaningful way, along side my photography. The feedback is invaluable and has increased my confidence in my painting abilities, but even without that I think I would have felt proud of what I had created. I knew that I had gotten these paintings to good places, where I was happy to show them and I was proud of what they looked like.

My fish painting, below, was fun to do. I almost didn't post it because it was kind of an after thought, but I am glad that I did. It got a lot of reaction on Facebook actually, from friends that were not taking the class. I painted it at the end of the day, to use up some paint I had left from the beach painting. I was just scrubbing paint on the canvas and then I added the fish shapes in a moment of inspiration. I enjoyed it, and I guess it shows. Sometimes you work so hard to pull something out of you, and sometimes it just flows.

Get Your Paint On - Week 3: Color #2

Get Your Paint On - Week 2: Inspiration (Ed Ruscha)

 

These last two paintings were done for week two. The assignment was to choose a painter who inspires us and I chose Ed Ruscha. I've loved his work for a long time and it tied in nicely to the typography work I've been doing. I also used a photograph I had taken, of a sunset over New York, as the inspiration for the background. The process of taping out the words was tedious, but for the first time I used a bone folder to "seal" the tape edges and prevent any paint from leaking under. It worked! I really loved painting the skyline and the windows and I think I am going to try painting a few more skylines. I do prefer the realism of the skyline and the technique for painting the sky in the canvas on the left.

Overall I have learned so much! Just getting a push to paint once a week was helpful and Lisa and Mati gave plenty of guidance and examples of techniques and styles. The positive feedback was the best, to hear that I have talent is a huge motivating factor for me. I know I love to paint and when I push myself past the ugly I can get it to a nice place. The key is to just keep working on it!

If you are thinking of doing a painting class, but can't commit to attending a class every week in person, this is a great self-paced and easy environment to learn. As it is with these online courses, you get out of it what you put into it. I'll be signing up for the advanced class in the summer, to learn more about shading, creating dimension and deciding on subject matter. I can't wait!