Thursday, 20 September 2007

Learning styles - painting

Bedrock & Clouds #2, 70x50cm
Pastel on Board

The initial starting point to the previous post on blogging styles was how people stumble across my blog - and that many do so by looking for advice on 'how to paint in pastel'.

When I started yesterday's post, I had initially planned to write more about learning styles and different ways to learn. Or, more appropriately (and rather selfishly): how I seem to learn. It seems to me that I'm distinctively learning in a way that Scots would express as 'fae arse tae elbow' - from back to front.

Well, probably not quite back to front but from trying out first and then seeing all the things that don't work. So, for my cloud studies I looked rather quickly around to some (drawing) demonstrations but then just went ahead and tried to get to what I'd see. I did many of them in the water-soluble Neopastels - which work very similar to watercolour pencils, and which as such are very different to the other media (notably pastel and oil) that I normally use.

Namely, and that only dawned on my in study #20 or so - I didn't have a clue how to get whites into watercolours - whereas with pastels, oil or acrylics one can add easily light/opaque hues, in watercolours these need to be preplanned as it's often the white of the support that is being left exposed rather than an actual medium added.

Over the past couple of months I did compile quite a few bits and pieces of reference material - including painting demos, sketches of artists such as William Turner or John Constable, contemporary artists etc. But I did so rather unsystematically - somehow just knowing that they were there for me to look at seemed almost be enough.

Here, the working in series - be it the sky studies or my more abstract work does go a fair bit towards trying out and observing what happens - to set the task for the next study, or indeed for the next five to explore more systematically problems such as composition, colour, technique, mark-making or similar.

Similarly, I like reading about and looking at other people's art - but many instructions and how to articles or books quite quickly get lost on me whereas some works stay with me and I keep going back to them. For instance one of my earliest posts on Sarah Bee's largely pastel-based mixed media work on rock faces, undergrowth and pine woods.

Nonetheless, part three of this bit on self-reflection is actually going to be on how to paint clouds... so that those accidental visitors have something to stay for...

The painting at the top, by the way, was my first explicit skyscape. I hope I haven't posted it before, but it was the second of the Bedrock & Clouds series and with the unusual cloud formation being the initial inspiration, it was a good lesson in learning how, in order to close and finish a painting, one needs to let go of some of the initial inspiration (so many of the the other Bedrock & Clouds don't actually have any clouds in them :)). It currently still hangs in my office - but since yesterday with an imaginary red dot - which made my day, especially since Etsy is still rather slow.

No comments: