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Questions posted in web class March 26

Q: WOULD YOU RECOMMEND ANY GOOD PORTRAIT PAINTING BOOKS?


A: John Howard Sanden’s PAINTING PORTRAITS FROM LIFE IN 29 STEPS. By
NORTHLIGHT. It’s a great thesis on building a head in terms of planes, whereas the
likeness is a logical result of his method. It’s a great read, a must, because it also
applies to modeling landscape forms.
You can purchase this book by clicking on the link below
http://gan.doubleclick.net/gan_click...0000003 52105
Remember to type in WCLIVE in apply code box to get 10% off.

Q: WHEN YOU VIEW A PAINTING, DON'T YOUR EYES TRAVEL AROUND THE
PAINTING?
A: Not in a poorly designed painting. If there are competing factors, the eye would
go all over the place giving distaste to the viewer, a comparable analogy would be to
read a sentence in a newspaper with gaps between words. This would make it
uncomfortable to read. But if your eye moves in a natural fashion it’s because things
were set up in the same logic that your eye follows when it sees things in nature.
One major eye flow stopper is a single isolated dark object.

Q: AREN'T THE DRAWING PROBLEMS MAINLY DOWN TO: 1: POOR


OBSERVATION 2: POOR DRAWING SKILLS 3: POOR SELF CRITIQUE ?
A: Yes, many problems can be reduced to bad drawing, dazzling paint cannot cover
bad drawing in a painting. A landscape artist does not need much drawing ability
with a pencil as long as he can produce abstract shapes.

Q: WOULDN'T PUTTING THE FOCAL POINT IN THE UPPER LEFT MAKE YOU
GO THERE 1ST & THEN YOUR EYE WOULD TEND TO MOVE AROUND THE REST
OF THE PAINTING MORE EASILY (THE LEFT TO RIGHT TENDENCY)?
A: When it comes to the whole thing of how people read, this is just in order to stop
the eye from going off to the next painting to the right, so this is why some artists
have this obsession about putting areas out of focus all the way to the right just
before the no fly zone, because, they want to stop the eye from going out of the
painting; but this is not a rule, a painting should not have to depend on stoppers like
this, for there are several ways to keep the eye in the canvas. The focal point does
not necessarily imply the eye being stopped, it can simply be the starting point, then
the eye moves around through the secondary and third focal points if the painting
has them, etc. There has to be a hierarchy of importance within the elements in a
painting, preferably in the order that would allow the eye to move around the
painting in the desired fashion. We also talk about focal point not in a composition,
but focal point as in one thing being more focal and attracting more focus than other
things. Within objects, they having more and less focal elements, like the highlight of
a fruit, as opposed to its sides, the highlight is usually more focal, more attractive to
the eye and so you see the edges purely by choice, not because you were lead there.
There is a huge difference here between forced focus and manipulated focus, the
latter is what the artist does to move your eye within the painting, making you think
it’s because you choose to, when really he is guiding it. The former is when you
choose to look into peripheral areas in the painting that the painter did not intend
you to, and even here, the more dominant areas in the painting, will pop out in the
peripheral vision while staring at these less focal areas in the painting, because you
are not supposed to look there and so you are driven right away to move away from
there due to more focal areas calling your peripheral vision, ‘look here.’

Q:YOU SAID YOU DON'T PAINT BLUE SKIES BUT DO YOU ON SNOWSCENES
REFLECTING SHADOW IN SNOW?
A: Those pure blue shadows that you see in snow in nature are usually not good to
paint, since artists tend to put reflected light from other sources to break that strong
blue. Some artists add orange and viridian, the former representing snow reflecting
into the snow, and the latter, a more invented green sky. The problem with blue, the
purer primary blue is that it has a narrower range of colors that can harmonize with
it, because any color not having blue will not harmonize with it. Green or orange,
since both have yellow plus another color, they both have therefore a broader range
of analogous colors to harmonize with. Johannes was referring to the primary blue in
which he does not paint blue skies, blue water and blue snow shadows. He tends to
add green to the latter to shift it to the blue green hue so it harmonizes with the rest
of the colors in the painting.

Q: DOES THIS POSTIONING OF THE FOCAL POINT APPLY ONLY TO


LANSCAPES?? DOESN’T THE LIGHT SOURCE HAVE ANY EFFECT ON WHERE
THE FOCAL AREA IN A STILL LIFE WOULD/SHOULD BE?
A: The light source has nothing to do with it, you can put a peach that is side lighted,
front lighted or back lighted in a certain area of the canvas regardless of where the
light is coming from and still have it being focal. These are universal aesthetic
principles, not just for landscape, still life or portraits; these are abstract principles of
aesthetics. The eyes usually becomes the focal point of a portrait, a section of fruit
would be the focal point of a still life.

Q: DO YOU EVER SPATTER IN WATER COLOR FOR TEXTURE IN LEAVES???


A: Yes you could do that.

Q: IS THAT SPOT PULLING BECAUSE WE'RE SEEING IT SMALLER THAN THE


ACTUAL PAINTING?
A: When you reduce a painting to a smaller size, like a small painting and take a
picture of it, you get a more zoomed in version than what the eye would normally
see, especially if the camera is of great quality, where edges, physical edges would
pop out, where they would become optical soft edges to the viewer. A small photo
will make all soft edges in an original painting look hard edged giving a false
impression.

Q: WOULDN'T THE CORRECT USE OF HARD/DIFFUSED EDGES ALSO HELP


DRAW THE VIEWER INTO THE PAINTING?
A: Yes, I suppose you could say that, but shape and design take care of that more,
edge is just a more particular device for form and focus, but the composition as it
relates to the journey of the eye, you need stronger mechanism to achieve this. Take
into account that soft edges dissuade the viewer’s attention converting that area into
a notion. Hard edges attract the eye. We use these to our best interest.

Q: SO WHAT ABOUT PUTTING INITIAL TREE IN SOFT THAN COME BACK AND
INCORPORATE HARD EDGES OVERLAPPING SOME OF THE SOFT EDGES SUCH
AS WITH ACRYLIC WHERE IT IS HARDER TO DIFFUSE THE EDGES?
A: I suppose that this is a very creative way of solving a problem, since you are
using transitory hard edges, which is exactly what many artists use in acrylics,
instead of softening, they create degrees or transitory values, hard edged. What
counts is the final result. How we got there is irrelevant to the viewer.

Q:HOW WOULD YOU DEAL WITH EDGES, HARD AND SOFT, WHEN IT COMES
TO MOUNTAINS?
A: Well, hard edges i think go better for mountains overall, but since there is depth,
there has to be a play of focus and defocus. But to the eye, mountains stop rather
abruptly against the sky, to the eye, unless the air is thick in which case the edges
will die out a bit. If the air is thin, and the edges are evident, then make sure that
you still have the play of dominant versus less dominant in the area. A rule of thumb
is, hills with trees as their contour should be soft edged, rocky mountains should be
hard edged. However I would soften the line of a rock mountain an inch or so from
the edge of the painting to avoid inviting the eye from running out.