Every new painting is not only a new creation but also a learning experience. In my continuous quest to experiment and push myself as an artist, I might not always start a painting the same way and it might not always end as originally envisioned or planned.
The Vine Walkway is my latest painting finished last month. It has already been accepted into The Great Outdoors Annual Spring Show at the Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas, Texas opening May 17, 2014.
Every week, I will post the different steps taken to arrive to the finished version. And in every step, I will write what I did and, may be, what I would change if I was to paint it again.
STEP 1: Here is how it started! On the first day, I grabbed a Bright brush #4, Burnt Sienna and white oil paints. I started drawing directly on a canvas 36×24 inches . I usually do not add as many details as I did here in this first sketch. I opt instead for blocking the different areas in “darks” and “lights”; however, on that particular day, I was in what I would call a “drawing zone” and I simply lost count of time and sense of the diminutive. While I do not find a detailed drawing as necessary for the first sketch, I have learned to let my artistic desire of the day to take its course. If drawing with my brush was the “taste of the day”, so let it be!
I must admit that the detailed drawing gave me a good idea of how it was going to look; however, it didn’t necessarily made the subsequent painting easier. If I was to paint it again, I would probably come out of the “drawing zone” a little bit sooner. The main fact was that the perspective seemed correct so I was ready to continue with Step 2: Adding colors and start modeling shapes.
STEP 2: STARTING COLORS AND SHAPES
After looking at the sketch, I decided there were two areas that would require more details and consequently more time and several coats of paint. The green foliage along the path and the vines on top. I started with the green foliage in the foreground because it seemed it would go faster and easier. Sometimes I like to get a sense of achievement and I felt that part of the painting would accomplish that goal. I squirted different green, blue, and red oil paints such as permanent green, pthalo green, olive, madder red, pthalo blue and indigo as well as yellow and white. In essence, my palette that day was the primary colors plus the additional greens. After painting a dark base made of pthalo green, indigo and madder red, I added leaves with a lighter value wet on wet: more details in the foreground and almost none in the distance. I was aware that the light would filter through the vine on top so I highlighted some leaves to achieve that effect.
My favorite brushes are the Brights in the medium to small size and I usually accomplish all the foliage holding four to five Bright brushes in my hand each for a different color. I find this much easier than having to clean the brush when a different color is needed. Since I have a very soft touch, and working wet on wet, the leaves seem to just blend into place.
I had extra time that day so I started with the canopy posts. I highlighted the top of the posts with light blue to indicate the light and the bottom with green from the reflection of the foliage. This also helped to give them a rounded shape.
STEP 3: THE VINES ON TOP
Without a doubt this was the most difficult step of all. I wanted to show the effect of the sunlight shinning from above and filtering in certain spots, and the entanglement of the vines had to make some sort of sense. I added light blues to the wood and the foliage, light yellows and light green. May be, I went overboard on the blue highlights, but I want to leave them as they are for the moment until the columns are painted. When all the areas are complete, I will get a better sense of the ultimate colors I need. At the moment, the blues are distributed in strategic points above and alone the end of the walkway. I will have time to review them later.
The vine branches had to maintain their rounded shape and in order to achieve this, I placed dark against light, highlighting here and there. It is the end of the summer season and some of the leaves are already changing colors and falling. I am still using the same colors and brushes from the beginning.
The only part left to add color at this point are the columns and walkway. They are white in real life, but they will be painted reflecting all the colors that surround them. I definitely know at this point, that I will come back to each area and build on it.
STEP 4: THE WALLS AND THE WALKWAY
This was actually not one step but various ones! First I finished the white walls which have a mixture of many colors used in the other parts of the painting. Blues, purple, reds, yellows, pinks, and of course greens tinted the white to shape the columns and walls and account for the light filtering through the vines. Then I painted the walkway softening the colors to match the values found in the rest of the painting.
FINAL STEP: RE-PAINTING AND BRINGING THE VALUES TOGETHER
Once that first coat of colors was in place, I went over the entire painting a few times, pulling and pushing the values together to bring unison to the work. I softened some areas and highlighted others adding touches of light blue to the foliage in the foreground and to the vines on the top. I kept playing with layers of colors on the walls until they seemed to have a glow of their own. I left the details in the front but I lost a lot of them in the horizon to add to the perspective … and after many days of looking at it and retouching, it was sent off to its first show: The Great Outdoors at The Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas opening May 17, 2014.
It is said that artists leave a part of them in each painting and therefore, it is hard to let them go. However, as with people, each painting has its destiny and The Vine Walkway has a mind of its own!
The Vine Walkway can be purchased through the gallery. For additional information, please contact the artist.
I will be participating at the SIDEWALK ARTIST Event with Dutch Art Gallery on December 7th, 2013 beginning at 10 am!
There are also six of my paintings currently showing at Dutch Art Gallery
See the information below or see my artist profile at Dutch Art Gallery http://dutchartgallery.net/artists/figurative/hebe-brooks/
I have been participating in the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society ‘Best of America’ Exhibit since 2011 and, this year, I had the honor of being accepted for the third time in a row. This third acceptance also gave me the distinction of being accepted into the Signature Artist Guild. What an honor! Only about 130 artists are NOAPS Signature members since it started in 1991. This last March, I also became the Publicity Director for NOAPS and attached is an interview done by Southwest Art Magazine about the exhibit – Southwest Art Magazine, November 2013 Edition, Page 70.
The ‘Best of America’ which opened with a banquet on Saturday, October 12, 2013 is an extraordinary exhibit of art. This video I took will give you an overlook of the beautiful Dunnegan Gallery of Art and the extraordinary display. My painting, 4PM Tea Time, is part of the show. Enjoy it!
And here is the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OEV8t06-Ro&feature=em-upload_owner
And … here is how my painting 4PM Tea Time started :
The landscape at a ranch in central Texas changes with the seasons and each season brings its unique beauty of colors, life, and desolation.
It was a winter afternoon with the Texas sun filtering through the bare branches of trees. Leaves were hard to find and the broken wood pieces buried themselves in the muddy shores of what one might call “the lake”. Fallen trees found their destiny only on their water reflection. The sound of migratory birds could be heard periodically traversing the solitude of the clear blue sky. My eyes focused on the calm movement of the water where I could actually see the entire scenery without lifting my sight. It was then that the beauty of the short Texas winter with the glimmering promise of spring overtook me and encouraged me to paint the emotion felt.
Squirrel Bridge was the fruit of my walk through that central Texas ranch on that winter afternoon. That feeling of calm and beauty in the death of winter was portrait in the painting which won Honorable Mention in the 29th National Juried Show of the National Society of Artist, September 2013.
Painting realistic fabric with many folds and twists is a matter of observation and patience. It is an exercise that starts by finding the darks and the lights and ends by bringing them together.
A solid color piece of fabric folded and twisted transforms into a palette of multiple colors when light hits it at different angles. The darkest and the lightest values can be found intermixed in an intricate puzzle that can easily discourage a painter; however, painting fabric is not different from painting any other object. It just requires a lot of observation and patience.
Step 1: To start, sketch the fabric following the dark areas of the folds. These first lines will be eventually smoothed but they will provide a necessary outline to start the painting.
Continue to work the lines of the sketch by adding more color paying attention to mid tones and the lightest areas. Through careful observation let the brush follow what your eyes see. Go back to the dark areas and emphasize them carefully connecting them to the middle tones. Think of this process as extending each line.
Step 2: Smooth all lines to insure a soft transition in each fold. Sharp edges are only seen where the fabric ends. In most other areas the folds will have a soft transition between “darks and lights”. The transition could be short or extended, but it must exist in order to give volume and elasticity to the fabric. While small details can be added in successive coats, it is important to spend time on a good sketch. A strong base will make the work easier later on.
Step 3: Subsequent steps follow the values established in the grisaille but adds small folds and creases not captured in previous steps. Dents and wrinkles can be made with small round brushes, but even these small details will have a transition in value. Light hits objects in different ways creating and reflecting other colors besides the actual color of the object. Fabric is not an exception and careful observation will show reflections of purples, oranges, blues, and greens which were used in this particular painting to form the folds of the yellow fabric. The grisaille color also shows through the final version which adds further interest. Be sensitive to the surrounding environment since it will also insert its reflection of colors into the fabric.
Very seldom a realistic fabric painting can be finished with only two coats. Several thin coats and glazes might be necessary according to the complexity. Each coat incorporates more details and since each application is thin, details from previous coats often remain visible.
Human society, the same as nature, requires all its components to be in balance in order to function properly. If a major event takes place in society, all other aspects of that society are influenced and changed in search for a new balance. Art, as an expression of the human community, is highly affected by changes in other societal areas.
The biggest directional changes in artists’ ways of expression have resulted parallel or immediately after great technological innovations, revolutionary industrial procedures, and enormous changes in the values held by individuals. The invention of the movable print by the German Johann Gutenberg in 1445 and the consequent development of literature on commonly spoken language brought an increased interest in humanistic writings that precipitated a change in the arts: the Renaissance. The photographic camera, the Industrial Revolution, the automobile, the airplane, and the fascination with the precision of machines gave origin to different modern art movements depicting mechanistic compositions or exploring art beyond visual reality and into the world of dreams and the unconscious.
In essence, art was pushed to transform. Art created itself. The advent of the computer, the internet, and social media in the last thirty years has created new challenges and opportunities for the artist. The incorporation of movement, sounds, and interaction with the audience in the art work has changed the course of art. Could one then affirm the computer as the creator of a directional change in contemporary art? Being so close in time to the possible cause in the creation of a new artistic style makes it difficult to ascertain the veracity of the change, but indications lead to believe the leap to another different art movement might have been achieved. Sculptures with motion that invite public participation are common in museums of present day art. It is not unusual to find the largest concentration of art museum visitors in front of computer screens that appeal to all human senses through animation.
When taking into consideration the degree of comfort, proficiency, and enjoyment that the new generations find in the technological world of computers, it is not farfetched to affirm that we are witnessing a directional change in art as revolutionary as the change from classical canons to Impressionism and Abstract.
Many experts claim that youngsters’ minds are being reprogrammed with the extensive use of computers, and that children are developing new cognitive abilities. Keri Facer discusses some of these abilities in Computer Games and Learning and brings to attention the increase of “active versus passive, graphics first versus text first, pay-off versus patience, and fantasy versus reality.” If this research proves valid over time, art will not escape the influence and the inferred directional change in art will be a reality.
As the speed of technological inventions increase so does the speed in directional changes in art. It took eight centuries of Byzantine Art until the Renaissance emerged. Five centuries passed before Modernism took root, but only about one hundred years were required until the revolution of the computer age gripped and engaged the arts in a path to interaction.
Art, like human society, is in constant transformation. Most of this transformation is subtle and perceived better through the passage of history. At times, art receives a strong jolt from a great technological innovation or a great societal change which creates a reassessment of art. Could computers be the big jolt taking art in a different direction? Could the apparent revival of art nowadays and the multitude of styles be a rebellion against the possible directional change? Could the resurgence of hyper realistic paintings be a unconscious human need to compete with the perfection of computers?