Friday, June 02, 2006

Another Lesson

I had another lesson with portrait artist Vianna Szabo, yesterday. She continues to open my eyes and mind, and does so with such ease, it’s scary. Here are a few of the things I am still mulling over.

IMPORTANT – I am painting light, not objects. Seems pretty basic, but it’s a tough one to keep in the forefront of one’s mind when faced with the complexity of a carriage horse’s harness.

LIGHT: There are 5 kinds (as identified by John Singer Sargent) - not to be confused with the temperature of the light
1. Light
2. Shadow
3. Mid-Tone
4. Accents
5. Reflected Light
I had only consciously been thinking about the bottom three. I think for me, paying better attention to the subtle variations within the realms of light and shadow will add to the luminosity of the painting, and better compliment the depth of field.

MIXING COLOR/COLOR CHOICES: First attack the value, then identify hue and temperature, and then finally the intensity. When analyzing the above, it is incredibly helpful to isolate the spot in question. Vianna gave me a blank white index card with a small hole cut in the middle of it. Amazing how something that appears violet in front of me became bluer when viewer through the card. This helped me with mixing the right shade on my palette.

PAINTING APPROACH: Vianna attacks her paintings in sections, concentrating on the relationship of the areas in one part of her composition, but at the same time, consciously thinking about the light and how it’s bouncing through and around the objects. Conversely, I seem to work in batches, mixing one puddle of paint, and applying it across the surface. Modifying my approach – keeping more paint on my palette at any given time – allows me to mix gradations for more subtler value and temperature shifts. I’m anxious to put this idea to work on a larger canvas.
NOTE: Paint drying too quickly on your palette? Having to mix colors so much so when adding mediums, that you lose the density and interest of a looser combination? A trick I recently learned from a student of mine (thank you Laura!), was to puddle glazing medium overtop a blob of acrylic paint on my palette. The medium keeps the pigment from drying out, and mixtures can retain their “ribboned” quality easily.

After class, she invited me to stay and watch a segment of a Richard Schmit video. I was convinced that Vianna made things look easy, but then I watched him, and my mind was blown away.

My theory is that their eyes are trained so well in isolating a particular item, and they are so familiar with their pigments and materials, that everything falls together seemingly without effort. Practice makes darn close to perfect.

So I’m off for some practice myself.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings

1 comment:

tumblewords said...

I enjoyed your site and will come back for a more thorough read. Wondering if your art instructor is related to Zoltan Szabo? Curious. He taught workshops in my area for many years prior to his passing.