Tag Archives: negative space

The Apple Exercise – for anyone wishing to begin the new year on a creative note.

Happy, peaceful, healthy and creative New Year to one and all.

The  ‘Apple Exercise’ is a positive way  to begin the new year for anyone wishing to express themselves and explore their creativity.

Throughout my many years of painting and teaching, I have heard over and over the frustration of those who would like to explore their creativity, but always seem to find that life gets in the way……..

The new year is a good time to re-think and re-look at the way we live our lives.   A good time to make new and positive habits.

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In principle this exercise is very simple and effective.   If followed three positive changes will occur:-

A new positive habit will be formed which will benefit all areas of our lives.   

Fifteen minutes of PLAY every day for one month will hone observational and technical skills.    

Participants will begin to ‘see differently’

There are three simple rules:-

Pick the same 15 minutes every day – a time that works for you. 

Set up a small table, such as a card table, which doesn’t have to be moved or shared. 

Turn off mobiles and any other potential distractions……

Here are just a few of the things you can use to explore and PLAY with.    If you don’t have artists paint, use house paint or anything else you can get your hands on. 

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If you are scared to mark a new piece of paper, then use newspaper, old magazines, wrapping  paper or inexpensive wall-paper lining.

Playing – using magazine paper, felt tip pen and some paint……20190104_112054

Allow yourself to doodle until you begin to relax.    Artists, writers, dancers, musicians all need to stretch and warm up.    PLAYING  is the best way to do this.

Remember that the apple is simply a ‘jumping off point’   – it doesn’t have to be copied perfectly.

This image helps us to remember the importance of Negative Space....the space that surrounds the subject we are painting.     By putting colour around the apple shape…the apple is revealed.

20190104_113225Given the fast pace of our lives today, and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses are being deadened.

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us, with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow.

Feeding our senses through the creative process in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which can lead to a sense of well-being and fulfilment.

Warning  –  Beware of the Chattering Monkeys….

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Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our minds with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something!

I am sure as you begin this exercise, they will be shouting out…‘you don’t have time to do this’, and you can’t draw or paint anyway…..

IGNORE THEM 

As you move forward with the apple exercise and establish a routine, you will find that the Chattering Monkeys will go away…….

Note these apples cast their natural colour into their shadows.    Each apple reflects upon the other.      All of life is interconnected….

20190104_120714When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

By the time we reach adulthood most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Colour effects our every mood and emotion.    Allow yourself to PLAY with colour….Apples can be any colour you wish them to be…..Be bold – make marks and surprise yourself with the satisfaction and joy this brings. 20190104_121604When we think of an apple we might visualise the iconic Apple Max symbol, or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher.

What the Apple Exercise will demonstrate is that the apple, along with everything else in life, can be seen in a myriad of ways.

Seeing the apple differently…….

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If we could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes and our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.

Instead of just looking straight ahead, look in every direction, including up and down.

Instead of always sitting in the same chair view your favourite room from many different points of view

.Look at the whole – not just the shiny red outer image….remember there are fascinating pips inside the apple.      

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The creative process is all about experimenting.    Letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during out lifetimes and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense.

It is about awakening the senses.  

Stride out in confidence into this new year and enjoy the transformation that creativity and colour can bring.          watercolour/collage from one of my children’s book illustrations. 

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My book ‘The Apple Exercise’ can be found on the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk 

My next painting course will be in Portugal beginning April 18th  at http://www.artinthealgarve.com 

a bientot

 

 

 

Allowing answers to be revealed…….

it seems to me that we spend our lives trying to solve problems by looking at what seem like the  obvious solution.   For example, when painting a portrait it is quite common to see an artist struggling with one area of the face, let’s say the nose.     Back and forth we go adding and deleting paint, when often all that’s needed is a shadow next to the nose….and voila – the answer is revealed. 

In this instance, to reveal the calla lily, I have gone into the area surrounding it, or what we call the negative space…….

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All the white in this image is dry white paper.

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A Bientôt

When the answer is revealed….

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Another tutorial and reminder of the importance of observational skills.   I

This exercise is all about observing the whole picture, –  the subject and the area surrounding it, which is referred to as the negative space.

I sometimes see people struggling with one area of a painting that they keep going back to time and time again….adding and removing paint,  when quite often all that is needed is a shadow or some colour thrown into the negative space. 

Using  yellow ochre, I have sketched out the rough form of a Calla Lily

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It’s much like life when we are trying to solve an ongoing problem.  We tend to keep going back with the same solution, which doesn’t work!

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It’s not until we look in another direction, in this case into the negative space surrounding the Cala Lily, that the answer is revealed. 

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As we approach paintings and life from a different point of view….new solutions and answers are revealed.

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For this image I used a mix of colours that happened to be on my palette….and then scraped out some colour with a knife, which gives energy and breaks up the background space.

Note that all the white you see is dry white paper. 

I used the same dark tone/value in the back ground colour as I did for the dark shadows on the lily, and just a touch of Winsor & Newton Green Gold and cadmium orange to pull the image together

I never use black when watercolour painting….it deadens the picture.    Instead, I mix Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue….or other combinations of browns and blues….which produce a beautiful rich dark.

A Colourful Magical Hummingbirds for the day.

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http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

HummingbirdHQ.com

A Bientôt

Playing and Doodling using old paintings

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I needed to play and doodle yesterday, and so I pulled out a piece of watercolour paper which I had already thrown some paint on.    Not sure what I originally intended, but that’s not important.

If you look closely you can see that I have sketched the profile of Claudia, with a blue water colour pencil.   I used a photograph of Claudia as my jumping off point.

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Anyone who has taken one of my workshops will know how important I consider the warming up process to be.    Like dancers, musicians and athletes, painters need to warm up at the beginning of the day.    Playful exercises using newspaper, wall paper lining or painting over old sketches is freeing. 

In this frame, it’s all about the negative space.applying colour into the area surrounding the profile, which immediately reveals the face.   Even though I am working over a colour ground, I have applied juicy watercolour next to the face, and then with a clean, wet brush, I have pulled the paint out.

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Remember when working from a photograph, it’s not about copying – rather using it as a jumping off point.

I decided to add some Indian Red water colour to the hair and into the negative space.   If asked why….my answer would be because the colour was on my palette and I felt like it:)

Given that I am working off a colour ground, I have applied some Winsor & Newton gouache, permanent white…Had I been working  on white paper….I would have left dry white paper for my highlights. 

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I have added some Cadmium Orange water colour which brings a vibrancy to the image.

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In the final frame I decided to use the Permanent White, along with some Naples Yellow gouache around the image to bring a sense of interesting light and movement.

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An artist who was recently visiting, talked about the problem of feeling that everything she did had to be a finished painting, even in her sketch book.       In our discussion she realised how this attitude prevented her from playing, doodling and freeing up.  

Happy Doodle Day….

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

 

 

Art in the Algarve – watercolours and sketches

As I mentioned earlier, the purpose of this course was to work on watercolour technique and at the same time observational skills.   The watercolours shown in this post are a small sampling and they are in no particular order.

I would begin each session with demonstrations….in this case using flowers from the Market, I made rapid watercolour sketches on white paper and paper with a colour ground.

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The course is for all levels, including total beginners, which brings me to the first image which was painted by someone who had never been to a watercolour class before.

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One of the key elements of the course is to show people how to avoid the age old problem of muddiness in their watercolours.     One of our group who had worked in watercolour for quite some time had become very frustrated with this issue, and so I was delighted to see the work she produced…..with absolutely no mud!

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Although the emphasis of my workshops is to use watercolour in a spontaneous manner, sometimes it’s very helpful to make more detailed observational studies.

This watercolour of beans from the market, is just that – an observational exercise.

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Much emphasis throughout the week was all about the use of sketch books.    Here you can see the sketch made when visiting the Island of Culatra, and the beginnings of a watercolour painting from the sketch.

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A series of lily watercolours – exploring the use of negative space in an image.

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Taken from a small sketch.

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One of the group had a particular interest in trees and made many interesting studies.

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ImageUsing strong colour in the negative space to achieve a sense of drama.

ImageThere was so much more work, but these images will give an idea of what was achieved.

One of the lasting memories I will have is painting in the courtyard later in the day when local pigeons would be let out.    The flapping of they wings would cause a beautiful dream like echo…..quite lovely.

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The pigeons seen from the roof of the school….flying free.

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I will now look forward to my course at the school next April….

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

   

 

 

Workshop Demonstration (2)

My second demonstration once again tapped into the importance of negative space, and observation.     

The difference here is that the painting of the petals was less spontaneous and more considered.

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Using a photograph of magnolia petals as my jumping off point, I made a loose sketch of the petals, and then immediately wet the area in the negative space surrounding the petals, and applied juicy paint with a loaded larger brush.

I then allow the paint to bleed out to the edges of the paper.    This is an exercise in letting go of control….

For the petals I leave dry, white paper.      In a much more controlled manner, I then apply tiny amounts of pigment to each petal, being careful not to allow areas to bleed into one another.    The total opposite from what was going on in the background.

Given that I was painting this as a demo, there were time constraints, however, I might work on this painting over the next few days, developing more of the petal area.     Note the importance of leaving dry white paper for the highlightsand also note how the white paper shines through the transparent pigment.

The most important technique used in the petal area, is the use of a wet brush with no paint to pull out the small amounts of pigment applied to each petal.     This is also why it’s very important to have a minimum of four pots of water at all times….so that there is always clean water available.

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I enjoy the mix of loose, spontaneous painting with a more considerers detailed area. 

Again it’s important to remember that everything is interconnected, and so by bringing some of the same colour used in the background into the foreground we achieve a sense of natural harmony.

Because I was demonstrating and emphasising the importance of playing and experimenting, I then dropped some of the Winsor & Newton, Desiginer Gouache, Permanent White into the background….suggesting more petals, without any detail.

Note the two different areas of white….one using designer gouache, permanent white, and the other area on the petals, where the white is all dry white paper. 

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There are still a few places available for my workshop in April on the beautiful Algarve, Portugal.      Situated in an historic area of the Algarve, the venue affords excellent opportunities for outside and indoor painting.      With charming inner courtyards and a superb studio area, it is well equipped. 

More information is available at http://www.artinthealgarve.com   or you can e mail camilla@artinthealgarve.com

A Bientôt

Observing the Human Form

September is always the beginning of a new work year for me.   A time to re-evaluate.

I was fortunate enough to go to art college in the early sixties when life/figure drawing was a key element.     In fact, there  is no better way to hone observational skills than to work from either a nude or draped model.

It’s good to see that this traditional way of training the artist’s eye is back in vogue.    I see that life groups are springing up all over the place.

Note that in this watercolour, I am again using the same techniques as shown in my tutorials.     By applying juicy paint into the negative space surround the model…..the model is revealed.     All the white you see in this image is dry white paper.    

Twenty minute watercolour from Boathouse Studio series.   

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In an ideal world, I would work from a life model at the beginning of each day.     As I have mentioned many times before on this blog, artists are no different than dancers, athletes or musicians…..we need to warm up….and the most integral part of warming up is to hone observational skills on a daily basis. 

In a life drawing/painting session it is the norm to begin with a series of very fast one to 5 minutes sketches.      When I tutor life painting sessions, I suggest that people use newspaper for the very fast sketches.    As mentioned before, this frees people up to make rapids marks without the fear of messing up good paper.    Consequently, this is often when the best work is done.     

It is during these fast sketches that we begin to observer the model’s form, and equally as important the space surrounding the model, (negative space.)      By observing and sketching the human form we hone all our basic skills.

In this fast fell tip pen and watercolour sketch, I have left the space surrounding the model (negative space) as dry white paper.    

In these sketches it is my goal to capture the gesture and essence of my subject.    Once again, less is more comes into play.     We don’t have to fill in all the spaces, the viewer’s eye will do that.

Twenty minute watercolour from the Boathouse Studio series. 

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For those who are concerned about their drawing skills, here’s something to think about.     None of us came into the world able to write our own signature.    We had to learn how to do this……and it is exactly the same with drawing the human form or anything else. Remember the fifteen minute a day exercise….This quote from the book Buddhist Offerings, says it so beautifully……

Do not take lightly small, good deeds, believing that they can hardly help.    For drops of water, one by one, in time can fill a giant pot.

A Bientôt