Line and a new painting

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In August, I took on a new student. She has an adventurous spirit and her goal was to work abstractly. Before we got there, we had to have a common understanding of the elements we were working with so I embarked on survey of various things – composition, line, positive and negative shapes, texture and pattern, etc.

She was eager to start painting and we’ve chosen acrylics because painting can be engaged in without the problem of paint fumes off-gassing in a small apartment where she will continue on her work at home.

She was eager to leap in, both feet first, so I decided on an exercise that would combine several things together. We would start with a line drawing being sensitive to capturing the shapes and mindful of carrying the eye about the picture plane with the three principal objects.

Notice how she has weighted her line so that where there is a dark edge which might indicate a shadow behind it, she has a thick line, but where the transition in the flower from light to shade is delicate, she has used a fine line that trails away (see the veining on the flower and where the petal curls under on the lower lily).

On the painted version, she no longer was working in charcoal but with a brush. You can achieve these same gradations of line sensitivity with the paint brush; but it’s good to know that if you get a line too thick, you can adjust this when you get around to working on the “coloring or painting in” of both the petal and the background.

Then she would block in the painting giving a ground colour to work on so that no unintended blaring white bits showed through in the later stages of the painting. We chose yellow ochre as the ground colour.

So here is the first stage of the painting with ochre ground and the figurative work sketched in with brush and a dark colour.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures in the next stages, but I couldn’t resist sharing her lovely drawing with you. It’s supple and appears freely drawn although I know this took some concentrated looking to be able to produce.

One’s eye travels around the composition easily with the placement of the three flowers in a triangular composition. The addition of a few leaves or changing background colours in the final stages will assist with bringing the entire picture plane into the visual flow.

She’s done quite a bit of work on it now so I will get another photo of it for the record and add it in when I can/


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5 Responses to “Line and a new painting”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    Good job new student!
    I like that you talked about quality of line and how it ties into the painting and the values. That is one of the most difficult things to teach and once a student gets it, the whole look of their painting changes. Nice post.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Thanks for the comment Leslie.
    Yes, isn’t it marvelous when lights turn on in a student’s head and they “get it”. And even better when they translate that into being able, not only to understand, but to do.
    This person’s ability to pick up ideas and run with them is just great.

  3. forestrat Says:

    I have been swamped with work at my day job lately and haven’t had much time to check on the blogs that I like. It is good to come back and see a bunch of great posts to read!

    It is interesting that this post and the previous one about the graphite sticks touched on the idea of controlling the stick or brush to create tonal variations and to move from thick lines down to a vanishing point; I have been learning about Japanese ink drawing lately which embodies these techniques to high degree. The first stage of the flower image has a bit of the ink drawing feel.

    I love the graphite experiments. For me they carry a mechanical industrial revolution impression. I can see the softer “mother and child” interpretations, but at first glance I saw tubes, pipes, and gears.


  4. Preet Rau Says:

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.

    Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking
    and checking back frequently!

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