Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Simplifying A Landscape In Terms of Temperature

When painting a landscape in watercolor , oils etc, it can be overwhelming to grasp all the detail and the color variants for anyone, much more so a beginner.  Let me give you a way to see and breakdown the subject easily.  See it NOT as a landscape, but as a series of colors going from warm (the light side of an object-ie: the sun) to the cool side of an object ( less sun , so blue ).
So see the image and the color bar at the lower left.  It starts with warm light- bismuth yellow, orange, moves to raw sienna, olive greens (for this bush exercise) then starts to get to sap green, and then hookers, chrome and greens that you add cobalt blue , or indigo to to darken.  Let these different colors interact as the move around the object by placing them next to each other, sometimes mixing, sometimes not.

Monday, March 25, 2013

On Doing Demonstrations of Your Painting Techniques

Doing a watercolor demo for a large group of people can be frightening, but if you prepare, you can minimize the fear.  I did this by preparing for three days before hand.  I painted a lot and experimented so I would have a sharp edge to the presentation and maybe bring something fresh to the table. My theme was Abstract Watercolors.  I had an idea of several compositions beforehand that would also demonstrate a variety of different principals and techniques at the same time.  I wanted my timing to be worked out so that the demo would be fast, informative and exciting.  I used brighter colors than I might usually since the viewers would be seeing the image upside down and from a distance and possibly in poor light conditions.  
There is nothing more boring than watching paint dry or watching someone noisily use a blow drier.  So I enlisted a student/friend volunteer to do the drying in a side room while I moved to the next stage on another watercolor block.  I also used the opportunity to display a few other types of abstract approaches that I have tried in the past, but would not address that night. 
It is important to keep the energy moving, funny if possible.  I finished 5 pieces in 1 hour by having several blocks and themes in the ready.  I wasn't exactly sure how it would all time out, so I had back up material in case I moved too quickly, but moving too slowly was my biggest fear!  
People hear more when they are laughing and having fun.  Tap into your inner comedian by paying close attention to your feelings and even your fears.  We are all a bit nervous to be in front of the spotlight, no one wants to make a mistake or bore people.  Our fears can be a source of great self deprecating fun, since everyone can identify with your fears, they have them too!  
Enjoy the process and be prepared by knowing clearly what your message is.  I penned an outline in bullet points so I didn't get off track risking losing my message.  I like to balance example with description, too much explanation can lose people, too much demonstration can get deadly quiet.  I try to remind myself to make some eye contact, which is hard, because it takes a lot of concentration to do a painting in the first place, and in front of a crowd, but keep that connection with the group.  Don't mumble, do a sound check, and make sure they can see your work.  Most important keep it fun light, informative and colorful, know your message, and drive home the point to wrap it up with a bang!  

Here is what the Jacksonville Watercolor Society said in their recent newsletter about my demonstration at the Cultural Center of Ponte Vedra Beach Florida:
"Thank you to Gordon Meggison for a vibrant and playful demonstration.  His work with masking fluid, saran wrap and emotion made for a lively evening of learning.  For Gordon, "play" is the key word and we all certainly enjoyed watching him play with color, fluid, and paper.  Two lucky winners went home with wonderful pieces of artwork from Gordon's collection."

It was all great fun and went by too fast, I am grateful the JWS wanted to see what I do and how I do it.  



Jacksonville Watercolor Society demo in progress

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Artists Block


We all know what it is like to have trouble getting motivated. It is easier to go get something from the fridge, watch a movie or clean house. They can be beneficial and are often even necessary, but when we divert our creativity too much to these types of activities, we can dilute our creative energy. This can stop the energy from building up in us to the point where we simply "must" paint. I love it when I am on one of those creative rolls where I just can't stop painting, time slips by and I am letting one painting inform another. I wrestle with artist block in one form or another every day. Sometimes cleaning house can help me, by making me feel active and productive, but ultimately it must translate into activity and time spent in the studio and wet paint to get a painting started. Starting is the hard part. I don't always have clarity or energy when I go into the studio. I find (like exercise!) when I just show up and start puttering around in my "sanctuary" I start to feel the muse emerge. She begins to manifest in my thoughts, and seduces me into believing that if I start this or that I will be a great artist and everyone will love me! While that might be comical and an overstatement, it is more or less true. First I have to get myself "set up for success", all the tools positioned and appropriated, a canvas primed and in place. I also like to get other stretched canvases ready to go ( I prefer to create a "body" of work, and this psychological trick can show yourself you mean business, it says to your subconscious ..."when" I get fired up not ..."if" I get fired up. That assumptive position harnesses the power of your mind and ultimately your body.
It is also important to ask yourself quality questions . Here's a few:
  • 1."what can I do to set myself up for a fun painting experience,"
  • 2."what new technique can I approach this medium with or subject that I haven't tried before to make this more rewarding,"
  • 3. "how fast  can I paint this subject so that I only capture the essentials of energy and light, so that my viewing experience is enhanced".

Try some others by writing them down for clarity of purpose though unfortunately few do this (many are called but few are chosen). Writing it down works, sketching rough thumbnails helps, and having a sketchbook at the ready helps that!  Anyway you get the idea.
I find a bit of regular art related periodicals or books throw fuel on your fire. Start your creativity off with good mental attitude with mind food so that your vision will be sharpened, your mood enhanced and your chances of success increased.
When I finally get excited, the spark sets a glow at first, then as I get clarity and focus (we are all a bit ADD these days with modern distractions!) and I know what I am doing a bit better, one sketch piece informs another ( I often paint 4-10 pieces at a time) . That's when a firestorm of creative ideas can build excitement and sustain you through a body of work and a narrative that maintains your curiosity and interest for some time.
What I look for in painting, is a subject that I can explore, that widens my visionary skills while challenging me technically in order to bring fresh techniques, and ultimately fresh impetus to my work overall.  The subject is less important than the "feeling" for your subject.  Your goal should be to translate the feeling into the paint strokes through skill and honesty (not doing it just for the money), and the passion will become obvious in the work one stroke at a time.
I am presenting here a selection of paintings done within a three day period as I prepared for a Jacksonville Watercolor Society demo at the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach Florida.  You can explore how one piece informed another.  This process of self discovery opened up a whole new area of interest and technical discovery for me.





     

The last, and a breakthrough for me!