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See Like an Artist

20 Aug
Confined Watercolor Warm up

“Confined” watercolor on paper by Katie Turner.   The view is from a platform above an enclosed courtyard.

 

After thumbing through one of my old graphic arts books, I was thinking about how artists learn to express themselves visually and learn to see, not just using the sense of sight.  Matisse said that when he ate a tomato he just looked at it, “But,” he said, “When I paint a tomato, I see it differently.”

It’s true that artists see the world differently.  Seeing things differently enable an artist to deliver a message through their art.  Some say artists have heightened awareness.  How is it that an artist can see something different from others?

Some artists learn through life drawing classes.  Sometimes it can be a real struggle but life drawing classes can be a real growth opportunity for an artist.   They look, analyze, translate what they see into marks on paper and along the way acquire visual skills.  Learning how to “see” makes it possible to conceptualize more unique and original designs.

Some art classes don’t teach students to see but give them quick shortcuts to produce life drawings.  Historically, drawing was thought unnecessary and a lot of design students graduated from art school without any drawing at all.  As time continues, the pendulum swings back and forth with what is taught in school.   When representational art is popular, you will see more formal drawing classes available and when it’s not, less formal will rule.

There are many exercises available to hone your drawing skills that will also grow your ability to “see” creatively.

 

Here are my favorites:

  1. Turn things upside down before sketching. By placing an object in an unusual position it forces the mind to look more closely at it.  This forces us out of automatic drawing mode and trains us to draw what we see.

 

  1. Draw the negative spaces only. Concentrating on drawing these abstract shapes forces your mind away from preconceived ideas.

 

  1. Squint or use Red Acetate Film when sketching. Squinting or using this red acetate will quickly simplify any complex subject into simple shapes and values.  Your mind will be less likely to focus on the detail.

 

If you put just a few exercises into your daily practice, you will be “seeing” and drawing better in no time.  When the artist has better visual awareness, the door to creativity is opened.

 

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Chromatic Interaction

29 Aug

There are many methods for organizing colors in the world of art and science.  Having a visual model can help an artist see the relationships colors have with each other. A color wheel, developed by Albert Munsell in 1905, assigned a numbering system to colors and became a useful and common tool artists and designers could use for planning color ideas.  Johannes Itten also developed a three-dimensional model, integrating the color wheel into a globe.

Using a sketchbook to study colors can help an artist examine the relationships between warmer and cooler colors as well as between analogous and complementary colors.  As a watercolorist, I can gain an understanding of how the various watercolors work together, but may find changes as I experiment with different brands.

Testing chromatic interaction doesn’t have to be boring at all – try this exercise for fun:

  1. Draw several free-hand circles in various sizes.  Allow them to overlap.  This first step is optional, since you could just create your circles with the brush.
  2. Start with the largest circle, painting one color into the circle.
  3. Clean the brush with water before adding a second color. Paint the new color into the adjoining circle on the first circle.  Watch the colors bleed, paying attention to how the colors are interacting.
  4. Continue painting circles with different colors.
  5. This is only one way to paint the circles. You could also wait for each circle to dry before painting the next, so there would be no “bleeding” of colors.

Have fun!

To read more about color theory, click here: https://watercolorpainting.com/color/

https://uxplanet.org/algorithm-for-automatic-harmonious-color-selection-for-the-image-fc26dde69ca1

The Munsell Color System: https://web.archive.org/web/20030813092028/http://www.adobe.com/support/techguides/color/colormodels/munsell.html

Itten Color: https://www.bauhaus100.de/en/past/teaching/classes/preliminary-course-by-johannes-itten/index.html

An art & design duo from Milan have chromatic interaction art:  https://www.carnovsky.com/RGB.htm

Breaking Away From The Brush (Just for a little bit)

22 Nov

Holiday Pocket ATCs - my first SMALL

 

I’m pretty comfortable around my brush and palette, so when an opportunity to try something new recently came up, I dove right in.  I had to say yes to trying a Pocket Letter swap.  It’s something I have never tried before so I figured it would be a great exercise.  I am familiar with ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and have been swapping with other artists for years, but what is a Pocket Letter?

A Pocket Letter is an interesting way to communicate with a pen pal or friend.  You fill up a 9 pocket trading card sleeve with ATCs of a theme, then inside the pockets you tuck in little goodies.  These goodies might be washi tape samples, homemade papers, ribbon, stickers, buttons, embellishments, tea bags, sequins, etc.  One of the pockets holds a letter from you to the recipient.  To keep from paying too much in postage make sure you keep the items relatively flat so the sleeve can be folded in thirds and mailed in a business sized envelope.

I found it interesting to design the pocket as a whole larger piece that was still able to break down into individual ATCs.  I was able to use a favorite vintage photo in my piece and it fit the composition well.  It was a fun exercise and I may try it again sometime.

Here are just a few links with various info on the Pocket letter movement and how it’s done.

What Are Pocket Letters Janette Lane

Jane Lane Shows Pocket Letter Sample

Another video of sample Pocket Letter

 

Paint Chip Challenge

14 Jul
Landscape painting of low moon rising in woods, purple flowers dot the landscape

Low Moon 20″x 16″ watercolor on paper by Katie Turner

Sassy Lilac color

Sassy Lilac #4003-9B

There are two weeks left to view the CNY Art Guild Liverpool Library Show.  “Paint Chip Challenge” will hang until the end of July 2017.  For hours and location click here: www.lpl.org

This challenge was an interesting project and it was fun to see what each artist came up with.  The color was given to me by the show organizer.  It is not a color I would have chosen.  I primarily work with transparent watercolors. This particular color required me to use Chinese white to make it opaque.   After painting several different paintings using this color, I settled on entering the picture above into the show.  It was done on watercolor paper using wet into wet techniques and a palette knife to scratch in some of the texture.

Having parameters can make painting more of a challenge but some rules also fuel creativity.  I enjoyed this challenge and would definitely participate in another one.  I highly recommend a challenge like this for healthy art exercise.