Thursday, December 09, 2010

How Do I Start a Painting?

Often, one of the most difficult things about creating a painting is simply getting started.

Disclaimer, for art purists: There is absolutely no substitute for improving your drawing skills by participating in critical life drawing workshops. (By 'critical' I mean managed by an instructor who is willing to tell you your drawing is off and how to fix it). You can usually find one in your area. Drawing from the figure or head builds your drawing skills by training your mind/eye connection to accurately judge proportions and measurements. No matter how good you get at painting, you will always be making measurements — whether or not you deviate from absolute accuracy will be a matter of skill and/or style or choice.
You may want to start a painting before your skills are top-notch. And that's okay with me. I made a living for the first eight years of my illustration career before I began to learn to draw well from the figure. My painting improved once I learned, but for the bulk of my 17-year illustration career, I used three methods of layout: an optical projector, the grid method, or multiple tracings and transfer.

In the example above, I demonstrated to a private student how to use the grid method. I can go into this in more detail if enough people are interested, but essentially, your source material (photo, magazine image, quick sketch or cartoon, etc...) gets a grid drawn over it with equal divisions (unless you are trying to distort it, use perfect squares). Then, on your painting surface, larger or smaller, place a matching grid. It must match line for line, also with perfect squares, same number of squares. Whether the subsequent squares are larger or smaller does not matter but will make your drawing proportionately larger or smaller. You will use this to assist you in drawing accurately the contents of each square — example the left-most eye starts at the intersection of 4 across & 3 down on both the source and final.

Next, begin laying in the distinct shadow pattern. Treat it as if you have only a black marker and white paper. Get the pattern in. Just get it in. In this example, I am using a warmish mixture of Alizarin, Ultramarine Blue and Raw Umber for my darks.

You will want to paint in lighter values. Don't. Get the shadow pattern in. In areas that are dark, but may actually be lit by the source light, make them dark anyway. You can always lighten them later. Try to connect all shadow areas to others. No islands.

My apologies for the huge reflections in the wet paint. I had set the camera up over my shoulder using window light, before there was paint on the canvas, then just reached over my shoulder to snap new shots, and did not anticipate the reflection.
After you get the shadow pattern finished, fill in the light area with an average mid-value color for the light side. Reserve your highlights for later.

Be careful not to over-model the halftones in the light pattern. Keep your lights and darks separate. Mind your cool highlights if working with north light.
Once the masses are in, then you can play with edges. Edges are to a painting what spice is to food; what music is to romance. Edges help the viewer see what you see, and guide them to what's most important, what to spend less time looking at (the edge of the hair/background), what to know about the structure (cartilage under skin vs. soft cheeks vs. hair).
Annie in Yellow Sweater • 8" x 10" • Oil on Canvas Panel

by David R. Darrow

Collection of Larry and Kay Crain

Paint Smarter™

Monday, December 06, 2010

Of Macs and Men

Okay, I need to address something... many of the viewers and my Facebook friends know that I am a Mac guy and have sworn by them for years.

Since I announced my computer issues and subsequent decision to buy a new one and the need to raise funds through my limited time Warm-Shadows Wednesday Workshop Sale and donations, I have received several e-mails asking me about my current level of devotion to Macs, given the number of problems I am having of late.

First of all, let me state that I have owned both Macs and PCs and do not engage in Mac vs PC slug-fests. I am simply thrilled to be living at a time such as this in which we can do the things we do with computers. In one of my online workshops last year I had attendees participating live from Oregon USA all the way to Belgium! That's amazing!

Still I prefer — and recommend without hesitation  — Macs.

Mac Has Not Failed Me

I need to explain that my computer problems have nothing to do with Apple or Macintosh. Yes, I thought it was a failing motherboard, but what I now believe to be the case is that it is a damaged segment of the computer perhaps related to the motherboard.

See, when I was moving to San Jose on April 1, 2010, I put all my stuff in the back of the truck and put my tower-style Mac G5 in the front with me. It was sitting on the floor where a passenger's feet might go. My assumption was that the ride would be smoother in the section where humans ride.

I could not have been more wrong.

There is no way to over-exaggerate the severe, up-and-down shaking I experienced at several [extended] points. It was like u-Haul was trying to shake loose change out of my head. The truck cab found a rhythm that grew and grew until it was absolutely unmanageable, not unlike when the washing machine gets out of balance and bounces itself upstairs splashing all its contents out.

It was violent.

My glasses flew across the cab, my coffee cup self-emptied, and my gall bladder removed itself. It was violent.

In the blurred hell that was my vision, I could see through the corner of my eye my Macintosh G5 being shaken up and down in a manner that would have resulted in a person being arrested if it had been another human being.

When I arrived at my destination, unpacked and began weeding through my belongings, I set up my Mac. To my astonishment, it restarted. But a week later the start-up hard drive failed... just would not turn on one day. Long story short, Seagate (drive manufacturer) fixed it and I got everything back, but still, not everything was right after that. Several replacement drives later, and with the camera problems happening only with my computer and not another, given the timing of the onset of problems I never had before, I conclude that the problems are from damage.

My Goal

My goal is to get a laptop powerful enough for the broadcasting tasks plus the extra stuff I use, iTunes, Photoshop, etc, during the broadcast. I'd like to be able to broadcast remotely sometimes... taking the show with me to other locations, where, if I find wifi available, I can do a show there... like sketching people at a coffee shop or painting a beautiful view near enough to someone's wifi... I dunno. Could open possibilities.

So Far

Several people have taken advantage of the lowered prices on the workshops and several others have donated, too. I am grateful for your involvement in the broadcast. I'll keep you posted. :-) With the money I have set aside for a purchase, plus the recent sales, I feel it is getting close...

Thank you,


PS: The discounted "Warm-Shadows Wednesday" Workshops sale is being extended a little longer.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Restarting the Broadcast Soon.

The Dave the Painting Guy show has a huge problem: to be a show, it must broadcast. At the moment, no one is watching me paint except cobs. (They make cobwebs, of course). That is because I am not broadcasting. And that is because I cannot.

It appears my broadcasting problem is related to a damaged motherboard, or possibly the "i/o circuit" (that's computer talk for "i/o circuit"). To see what I am referring to, view this video. (Ignore the word "Start" in the middle. It was a screen capture).

Evidence of GlitchWithin my first broadcast in San Jose, April 23 (three weeks after moving here) my main cam started doing that weird glitchie thing. I assumed it was the camera, a cable or something else, but with each broadcast since then, it has become less stable.

I am finally ready to get back to broadcasting at least twice weekly, but I find I cannot broadcast at all. (Bummer) I am going to have to buy a new computer, and I do not have enough cash for it.

So we're on hold until I replace my broadcasting computer so I can once again regularly broadcast the Dave the Painting Guy Paintcast™ — Sorry!