Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Keying the Values

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We are gradually clearing out most of the old dead growth and are cutting in trails behind the Grand View Ranch so that guests visiting the ranch can wander around and see the beautiful vistas. I painted “Another Smoky Day at the Ranch” while viewing one of these vistas. I imagined painting this as an intensely lit scene to illustrate a High Key painting. Light is frequently the main attraction in a painting, and establishing the mood by using appropriate light and color is often the first decision an artist must make.

In the last Blog painting, I chose a Middle Key scheme to suggest the feeling of tranquility in the subject matter. In today’s painting, I selected a High Key value scheme with intense colors and values, creating a painting that will POP off the wall. I chose predominantly dark values that contrast with the faded appearance of the misty, smoky atmosphere, and then combined them with a strong, warm color theme to create a harmonious composition.

An artist’s job is to push his or her craft to the limit without feeling trapped by “perfectionism that leads to paralysis.” All artists secretly desire freedom of expression, but the reality is that great artists must know their craft and subject matter first. Learning how to paint is just the beginning. Spending time painting on location is the ultimate teacher for the landscape painter. When you learn to paint on location, you will discover the freedom and ease of capturing nature on canvas, and you will be amazed at the impact that this will have on your artwork.

As artists, we are not attempting to reproduce nature. When we experience the amazing impact of the whole, grand effect of nature’s beauty within ourselves, we yearn to paint our interpretation of what we see and feel to share with others. Ask yourself two important questions before you paint. First, what do I want the viewer to feel? Secondly, is the value range consistent with the mood I want to portray? Please view my blog to see how I painted this painting step by step.

(Plate 1) I painted this painting on location using a 12x8-canvas board that was primed with gesso. I quickly composed and sketched-in the view that I found captivating with Asphaltum and turpentine. I used a # 8 Flat bristle brush so that I could sketch my ideas quickly.

(Plate 2) Next, I placed the darkest and lightest values on the canvas early on so that I could judge all my values against these original values.

(Plate 3) Then, I painted the value and colors of the smoky sky, and covered my original sketch of the trees as I painted in the ground values of the forest. I worked with contrasts, and gauged every color and value against the light and dark values that I established originally in the painting.

(Plate 4) I softened all the edges and blurred the values into the sky. I wanted to create a very mysterious setting by using values to establish the shapes.

(Plate 5) I painted the sun using very thick paint. Remember, the thicker you paint, the brighter it will appear on the canvas. This has to do with how the light reflects on the surface. I began painting in the trees using dark brown and a lot of turp. If you want to paint wet into wet, it is necessary to mix more turpentine into the top layer so that it doesn’t pull the paint away from the layer underneath. Finally, I painted the rocks and details in the foreground using pure, saturated colors to enhance the High Key effect of the painting. I painted this vista in about 2 hours.

We, at the Grand View Ranch, are preparing for the fall workshops, and if you have not had the chance to come to a workshop, I invite you to visit our website at http://www.thegrandview.com/ for information about painting outdoors in Shasta, California. While you are on the website, you can download my free book, “Everything I know About Painting” under “Information” on the home page of the website.

I am offering (for a limited time only) the readers of our blog and Outdoor Painting newsletter, a $75.00 discount off of the price of the workshops that will be held in September and October, 2008. You can call me at 415-606-9074 or register on the website. Space is limited, so call soon.
If you are interested in experiencing a breakthrough weekend that will take your art to the next level, visit our new website at http://www.thegrandview.com/, and you can download my FREE BOOK where I share “Everything I know About Painting.”

I hope that we can build a community of artists that can share information with each other.If you know of any artists that might appreciate being included, let them know about this blog.

I hope to offer more painting tips as this conversation continues. If you have questions that you would like me to answer, please don’t hesitate to email me anytime.

I welcome your feedback. Stefan_Baumann@yahoo.com


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried your painting from the all I know about painting and followed all the steps. It was a new approach to paiting for me. I learned a lot and enjoyed the adventure.Your words about painting have inspired me to paint more and enjoy it more. I now am trying to find my style of painting. I know why I paint now. I just love it and the journey of the painting. When the painting is done it is on to the next and the learning when one paints is the joy of it all. Wish I could come to one of your weekends but Kansas is a long way from Mt. Shasta... You will have to come to Kansas and paint our Flint Hills and beautiful sunrises and sets. We have a lot to offer. I am trying to find the happiness and joy in the small things of life here and paint them and bring them to heart. That is part of an artist life to show us all the things others don't see. We see them in a different "Light". thanks again for all you do , Karen in Kansas

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