Australian Fine Artist

Portrait Painting-2

Second of Five All Day Workshops with Artist David Chen

Painting from Live Model Alla Prima For this workshop we looked at the method of measuring out the face with the “fifths method”. This method of dividing up the major areas of the human face is used widely by artists who work in law courts for quick rendering of those in the room, police artists for making an indenti-kit likeness as well as some in the medical field. Read the rest of this entry »

Tonal Studies in Grey – 2

Second in the Series of Five Monthly Workshops with David Chen

Mixing Grey Tones and How to Make Them Better

As We discussed last month when ever you change a colour photo or any image from colour to a greyscale or black and white image, you are creating an image made up of grey tones. Unless the image is only 100% black and 100% white, it will have tones in it. All values of colours will have an equivalent grey tone when converted.

Last month I talked about how colours when used in a grey tonal paint should relate to each other. If you use a high key colour, unless you are deliberately planning something really different, it would mean  high key colour does not relate to all the other colours in the painting. For example, if you wish to put a red or pure yellow (EG: Cadmium Red or Cadmium Yellow) object in to a grey tonal painting, you would “knock back” or reduce the intensity of the red with green and the yellow with purple so that they suit or relate to the rest of the painting. How much of these complimentary colours you add will affect the resulting colour, so in many cases a tiny dab goes a long way.

So, how many colours can you mix to get beautiful tonal greys (or colours that have been toned down enough for a tonal painting). Keep in mind here that I am not talking about tones of black only. I am talking about toning down colours that if changed to a greyscale, would be in the grey areas on a greyscale. Also, a tonal painting does not have to be bland and lacking in contrast, highlights and shadows are important and have to be incorporated as well. The colours you use for them is important and need to fit in with your tonal palette.

David suggested to us that five or more colours can be mixed to created great tonal colours. Unlike a “colourist” painter, the tonal painter is not necessarily using high key colours for impact. The results are more subtle, softer in some cases but just as beautiful.

As with most other types of painting, there are methods of thinking when painting tonally. These really are common sense and begin with the artist’s imagination. It also requires observational skills which you can build up by regular drawing (anything in front of you, subject doesn’t matter as long as you practice regularly). Observing nature will also help you notice how one object relates to another, how you can use one object to gauge the proportions of others in your composition and where they fit in your painting. You will also start to notice how things close to you are sharper and brighter in colour to those further away, which will help to start on your journey to painting distance and colour perspective.

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EXERCISE:

Try getting out your paints and experimenting with mixing these colours on a clean palette, in varying proportions, to see how many greys you can get.

Start with four or five and keep going. Here is a starter for you:

Burnt Sienna
Olive Green (Cadmium Green and some red)
Alizarin Crimson
Titanium White

This was mixed to paint a pear in my painting exercise in a lovely mid tone of yellow/green. See what colours and tones you can get from this mix.

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We all observe nature and the world differently. How we interpret what we see differs. As artists we are also at different levels of skill, so our paintings will always differ from each other, even form our own as we progress in our learning.

As we progress there are certain things we always need to keep thinking about. IE: perspective, distance, proportions, variety of objects and their sizes in relation to each other, light sources, shadows and colours (EG: warms, cools, tonality). In tonal painting we use our grey tones to push backgrounds into the back, creating space and perspective, we use slightly more colour to bring foregrounds forward.

In addition I would add what David Asked of me. Don’t be afraid to add colour where you don’t see it in real life. It is a painting. Use the colour to create variety, to separate items from each other and to help to create form in objects. Push the colour by putting cools against warms, where you may not see it but where you know it will work tonally. Be bold with your brush and use it to create bold marks and brush strokes that make a more dynamic painting. Remember that in a tonal painting yellow means you may have a mix of several yellows (plus white and a dab of a complimentary like lilac or purple for example) in any given proportion, so a huge amount of variety is possible.

I will be posting more about this subject in coming weeks as I learn more myself. Tonal painting is a very under-used and underestimated method, grey tones are in some of the most famous and beautiful artworks in our galleries. Look for them on your next visit as see how the use of grey tones has linked colours, created atmosphere and been used much more that we expect.

tonal-2 tonal-1

If you would like to go on the waiting list for workshops with David Chen, you can contact him though his website at:

http://www.davidchen.com.au

Please mention you have been referred by Janice Mills.

Cathy Drummond, Philip Faulks, Bill Hay, Kristin Headlam and Richard Stringer

February 3-February 14, 2015

I was honoured to be one of the many guests that attended the opening of the most recent exhibition by these very experienced and admired artists and teachers. The city location of 45 Downstairs makes it a venue well suited to the artworks that these five artists produce. They speak about the human condition and our society. They prompt us to think about the world around us. The reflect who we are as a nation and as people.

With a variety of mediums in the gallery space, I found a lot to look at and many stories covering the experiences, thoughts and lives of each artist. They openly reflected on who they are and what they care about.

On a personal note it was fun to catch up with so many art teachers from my own studies over the past three years at the event. Support from peers, respected mentors and fellow artists shows a strong community in the arts that is still flourishing in Melbourne.

This is another exhibition I recommend a visit to. The works are available to purchase and would make a great addition to any art collection. You would also be supporting local living artists in their careers.

A few views from the opening night.

IMG_2288 IMG_2290 IMG_2291 IMG_2292 IMG_2293

Artist Talk at McClelland Gallery

Sculpture Exhibition: Last Resort

Alex grew up with parents who, even though in the technical profession encouraged him in his interests in books, art, science fiction and philosophy. At the early age of eight he picked up his first sculpture materials. He went on to study art at college and studied photography as well as his main interest which was history, as he was unclear about what he wanted to do as a career.

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Portrait Painting

First of Five All Day Workshops with Artist David Chen

Painting from Live Model Alla Prima

Painting a good portrait is not just a matter of anatomy. It is capturing the character and personality of the sitter as well as their likeness. If you are painting in an Impressionist style, it will also mean not getting stuck on any minute detail, but looking at the broader look of the person.

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Tonal Studies in Grey

One Semester of Monthly Workshops with David Chen

What are grey tones and why study them?

When ever you change a colour photo or any image from colour to a greyscale or black and white image, you are creating an image made up of grey tones. Unless the image is only 100% black and 100% white, it will have tones in it. All values of colours will have an equivalent grey tone when converted.

As with other colours when painting, the colours used in a grey tonal paint should relate to each other. Using a high key colour, unless you are deliberately planning something really different, would mean that the high key colour does not relate to all the other colours in the painting. For example, if you wish to put a red object in to a grey tonal painting, you would “knock back” or reduce the intensity of the red so that it suits or relates to the rest of the painting.

Look at some of the Russian painters of the last century and see how they used grey tones. In contrast to Australia where it took a little longer for this theory to be learnt by some of our travelling artists and our landscape has more intense light and colour, the artists overseas were looking at more muted light which held more grey tones. See the works of Whistler, Bonnard and Vermeer.

One of the most popular methods of mixing greys (try to avoid a grey straight out of the tube) is by mixing the three primary colours plus Ivory Black and Titanium White. Depending on whether you want a cool, warm or neutral grey, the proportions of these colours vary.

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EXERCISE:

Try getting out your paints and experimenting with mixing these colours on a clean palette, in varying proportions, to see how many greys you can get.

If you want to push yourself a bit, try using a cool blue, cool yellow and cool red for cool greys or a warm yellow, warm blue and warm red for warmer greys.

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Grey tones are the hardest technique to learn. Colour in comparison is easy. Understanding how to mute your colours and hold a painting in that middle area of not bright and not dark tonally and still working with depth and contrast is difficult.

You need to remember your lost and found edges, you need to remember your light source, you also need to remember the structure or planes of all your objects. Keep your brush strokes simple and not overworked so that you can build a shape and not just lines.

In grey tones, in contrast to your normal methods of painting, where the darks will give you your lights, the lights will give you your darks. IE: your darkest dark normally in oil painting will pull our and show up your lightest lights. With this method, your lightest lights will show up your darks which are tonally much more muted than in dark tonal paintings.

This doesn’t mean that you change from working up your painting from your darks to lights as usual, it just means that the lights will be the method of showing up the intensity of your darks.

Grey tonal paintings are paintings that you build by interpretation. It is not copying nature, it is understanding your materials so that you can take what you see and turn it into your own individual interpretation and creation. This requires the understanding of how to mix colours and get the right tone. The result will be your version of light, texture, form and atmosphere.

I will be posting more about this subject in coming weeks as I learn more myself. Grey is a very under-used and underestimated colour/tone, grey tones are in some of the most famous and beautiful artworks in our galleries. Look for them on your next visit as see how the use of grey tones has linked colours, created atmosphere and been used much more that we expect.

If you would like to go on the waiting list for workshops with David Chen, you can contact him though his website at:

http://www.davidchen.com.au

Please mention you have been referred by Janice Mills.

The Death of Fine Art

Personal Expression Versus Classical Training and How Contemporary Art is Killing Every Other Form of Artistic Training and Practice

Introduction

This editorial has been in the back of my mind for quite a while. It began during several sessions whilst completing my Diploma of Visual Art and has been brewing as I have visited exhibitions, galleries and events during the past three to four years. The whole thing has come to a head as I have been attending interviews for university in the past several weeks.

For those that may not know about my art, I produce paintings and drawings that fall somewhere between Realist and Modern Impressionist genré. I have been called an observational drawer, as I am a believer in the more formal idea of arts training, in that we learn to observe and translate or transcribe via the medium of drawing. We learn to observe, then we learn to translate.

Many of the artists that I admire the most first had formal training in one form or another and gained skills in drawing, colour theory, composition, perspective, materials and practising as a professional artist. The tradition of apprentices training with a master artist, to gain all the skills and training to become masters themselves and in turn pass on their learning to the next generation was where we see the works of artists from history arise. There have also been very respected arts academies in the past where artists of the time taught and encouraged the next generation.

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Opening Night at Without Pier

I was one of the honoured guests to be invited to the opening night of David Chen’s exhibition at Without Pier Gallery in Bay Road Cheltenham.

For those that know of David, he is a highly qualified and experienced artist and teacher. His formal training in China before moving to Australia in the early 1990s set him up as not only an internationally known painter, but also a teacher qualified to teach at university level. His understanding of the medium of oil paint alone sets him apart from many artists in Australia and overseas.

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McClelland Survey 2014

Official Opening

Sunday 23rd November was the day for the official opening of the 2014 McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park Survey. This exhibition of open air sculptures showcases some of the most inventive and creative works I have seen in ages. This is only my personal opinion from a first visit, but I felt that on the whole the work this year surpassed those of previous years, which is saying something.

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Final of Five All Day Workshops With David Chen

The goal of today’s workshop was to paint either from a still life in the studio or from our own reference. We were to keep to the composition but change the colours to follow the theme of purple as the dominant, but not the only colour. As with the other four workshops in this series, the idea is to have a pool or puddle of your dominant colour on the palette and dip into it very lightly to introduce that colour to others you may use in the painting.

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