Sunday, October 28, 2007

Self Critique - The Back Story

Here is some interesting "back story" on the little marine piece that I just posted last week.

It started out as a plein air session drawing, on a beautiful sunny day (rare in Hoquiam!). My first efforts at isolating a composition in the studio had me getting in a value scale. Early on, I wanted to get in one boat and the "SHIPYARD" building. The reasons for this were the strong white values of the two objects, and their clear shapes. But the problem occurs in how to portray them both without getting too cluttered and losing focus.

My value scale kept pushing me towards a darkened to middle value sky, which trended away from the sunny day reality. Oh well, that's my Hoquiam, always gray. And I very much liked the tall green-gray structure at the dry dock, but knew at first that it would be a huge distraction from the composition.

I went thrashing around for some ideas, because I wasn't very pleased with the line and form compositions. I'll say here that I don't have a hip pocket or standard plan for realist works, since my signature work is the abstracted landscape. I pulled out the Albert Handell book on plein air pastels, and he did have a marine scene, so typical of California. There were the colors turquoise and gray-green! Since I wasn't after the originality of color that I often go for, I decided to try using the turquoise, especially because I don't favor blue greens typically. Here would be some great color exploration for me.

The compliment of turquoise is red-orange, so I chose a hot orange to tone the Wallis paper. Now, all of a sudden, everything started to flow together. I abandoned the first value idea, but stayed with the massed values aspects. I really had fun putting this together. The turquoise provided a very cool temperature color to place against an otherwise warm setting. Back came the original blue sky, because the value scale of the main area was strong enough to support a light sky. Back, too, came the tall green structure to "push" the eye down and to add linear means to the composition.

The white building was able to recede because of the strong cool color of the boat's superstructure. All I had to do was add some warm compliments to the white walls.

Then my drawing book came in the mail! Now, all of a sudden, I had to start looking again through the critical lens of "perfect" realist drawing! The book, Classical Drawing Atelier, is a marvelous overview of old school, measured rendering and representation. I say old school, but of course the atelier is a contemporary institution that is established on the timeless foundations of rendering.

But, I wanted to finish the work, sort of "as is". I could see some "realist" errors, but wanted to keep them in. Why? Because I knew I had a non-commercial goal, and have a penchant for looseness, anyway. And, that is not to mention that it is very tiny at 6" x 4.5".

The one thing I did notice on my first opening of Juliette Aristides' book was that I may be too line-centric in my drawing in general, and not very refined in my "forms". So, when I took the little pastel work back to the studio for it's final effort, I did work on "modeling" the form of the boat's structure.

Next Post: I compare my drawing to the Atelier principles.

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