Wakar's Art Blog

180 Degrees?

Posted on: February 21, 2012

This weekend I took a workshop with Janet Moore. This one was on Color, Design and Composition. One of the things I like about her work is the design and composition. And since the rule of thirds was becoming a ball and chain I was very excited to take this workshop. And I was not disappointed. I can’t say that she ignores the guidelines of composition, but she uses them in her own unique way so her paintings don’t at all look like the same tired old set ups that one sees in so much other work out there. As for color, she uses a limited palette of Quinacridone Magenta, Ultramarine Blue, and Hansa Yellow Medium. This is an inspired combination. I’ve seem other painters who use only three colors and their work invariably looks dingy and dull. But with using a red-leaning blue, a blue-leaning red and a temperature neutral yellow, the color mixes stay vibrant and fresh.

The first day, using just the colors mentioned above plus white, she had us mix 12 different greens in a range of values. Then we painted a picture of a bowl using the colors we had just mixed. Let me tell you, I’ll never be afraid of green again. 🙂 Later on, after we’d finished the painting, we then added the q.m. if we wanted to change the picture to however we liked. Janet’s ended up being red and a creamy yellow. I stuck with the green for the bowl but did change the background some. But the point was to mix and use colors and values to show form. Here’s mine after changing the background (but please note that accurate drawing was not the order of the day so that’s a little wonky). Acrylic on 11×14 canvas panel.

Green Bowl

The next day we learned about design and composition. One of the exercises was to take the free-form “chart” we’d done the day before using all 6 primary and secondary colors and turn it into a painting. I struggled with this one as I was specifically looking for a landscape and there were certain aspect that I didn’t want to paint over. Finally I came up with this. The ‘hill’ in the background is actually much more blue/green that this is showing. The dark lines are made with charcoal. Acrylic on 11×14 canvas panel.

Autumn NOT in Sonoma County

Next she gave us a couple of compositional elements to create a painting from. I work fairly fast (all those quick studies are paying off!) so I was able to do both. The first one just came to me from the diagram she provided and the first thing I thought of was not a landscape. The diagram had a mid tone at the bottom and I think darker at the top but I switched them as i wanted the three ‘triangles’ at the bottom to stand out. This pic was taken after doing some finishing touches here at home. Mostly adjusting the color and value of the light part of the pumpkins and changing the top to a lighter value.  Acrylic on 11×14 canvas panel.

Size Doesn't Matter

This next one is from the second diagram. At the end of the class, during the critique, Janet suggested perhaps painting the front side of the building white. She’s right, it would stand out more. And I want to change the current light side to a yellow white instead of pink. Of course, repainting the shadow side will mean having to mix green to get rid of the shadow. I’ve had enough of green for a while so that one will have to wait for it’s adjustments. Otherwise, I like it. Acrylic on 14×11 canvas panel.

Green Hill

The last painting we worked from photos she brought. My goal was to do a minimalist landscape using NO GREEN! LOL I know it looks greenish yellow here, but that’s the way the camera picked it up. Also the yellow was mixed with Titanium White which edges it over to the cool side. It’s actually much more yellow looking in person. There are a couple of touch ups I want to do on this one too, but for the most part I’m happy with it. Again Acrylic and charcoal on 11×14 canvas panel.

Sans Green

Phew! That was a lot of painting. And a lot of knowledge to take in. But of it all I’d have to say that the most important thing I brought home from that class is that what matters most, and maybe the only thing that matters, is whether or not I love the painting I’ve done. She constantly reminded us that rules not only can be broken, but should be broken any time they limit or inhibit or confine our vision of what we want to paint. There are a lot of technical things to learn about all aspects of painting, and lots of practice is needed to develop our skill level, but we must remember that those things serve one purpose only: to help us create the painting that *we* want to create, a painting that we love.

Now you’d think it might be difficult to want to paint both like Roualt and Janet Moore whose styles really are about 180 degrees apart. But this morning I was watching one of Carole Watanobe’s videos on YouTube. She comments about her paintings that are in very different styles from one another. She points out that galleries, dealers, etc want your work to look similar so it is recognizable and therefore more saleable. But, like Janet, she believes in being true to oneself, to what one loves in painting. It reminds me of a book Suzanne Edminister told us about which I want to read. It’s titled Paint as You Like and Die Happy by Henry Miller. Interesting that three of my favorite local artists all make the same point. I think they are right. To paint with passions we must paint for love and love what we paint.


2 Responses to "180 Degrees?"

Brava, Wakar. First for the writing, then for the review, and at last for your paintings and “take away” from JM’s class. Wow, sure wish I had been there. LOVE the paintings you did, and your review was so thorough and insightful that I feel like I was there. Still love the simplicity of JM’s palette…..and yes, if we don’t LOVE what we paint, what are we doing it for? Each painting represents something new, maybe it’s a color just right, something positioned just right, values, hues, etc….and once in awhile, OMG, the whole thing just sings together! Your paintings are awesome…..from first to last. Paint On! Big hugs, J

Thanks Joanie, esp for the comment on the writing. I want my posts to move beyond the what-I-did-last-summer style. LOL You are so right about each painting representing something new that we’ve gotten right or made progress with. We tend to forget this and just judge the overall results. It’s good to be reminded that we are taking steps.

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