The First of Five Workshops with David Chen
Last semester ended with us understanding more about skin tones and how to use edges, tone and colour to place the model into a scene.
This semester we began by going over David’s philosophy for the workshops and his experience as first, an art student learning Academic Art Training at university (something that is not widely covered in Australia) and later as a practising artist and art teacher.
The technical issues that David has overcome during his 40 years as an artist and teacher are invaluable for students to learn as we take on the difficult subject of the human body.
The Final of Five Workshops with David Chen
During this workshop, we learnt about another method of working the model into their surroundings. Rather than having your subject, be it a human figure or even a still life or an animal, looking like they are part of their surrounds, and keeping the painting interesting takes planning and often altering what you see to what you want. During this workshop, we could either take from the objects surrounding the model and apply our imagination to make them work, or use vignetting (leaving areas of the canvas white) to merge parts of the model into the background and surrounds.
The Fourth of Five Workshops with David Chen
This workshop followed on fromthe previous subject about “loosening up” your painting style. One thing that I have noticed over recent years is how edges can make or break a painting. The softer and “looser” result that you may be looking for has to do with how you approach painting edges, particualrly those on you main subject in relation to the surrounding composition.
There are a few different methods to help with creating interesting edges that also bind your subject to their surroundings, rather than having them look like cardboard cutouts.
The Third of Five Workshops with David Chen
When I began training with David Chen, my goal was to not only learn the principles of Modern Impressionist painting, but also to ‘loosen up’ my style a bit from what i saw as sometimes ‘stiff’ and contrived results. Sometimes the details become so important that I forgot to place the subject within and connected to the foreground and background in which it was situated.
Context is just as important as your focus and main subject, and when the subject began to look disjointed, unrelated or worse, like it has been stuck or pasted on top of an unrelated scene, is when I start wondering how this could have been avoided. My thought was that if I could put more planning and less effort into my paintings, that would be a start, but what kind of thought and what kind of effort?
Many of us who are training to be professional artists, or are keen amateurs attend regular workshops with professional art teachers.
Learning from established artists is a long tradition going back to prior to the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was common for artists to take on apprentices who over years learnt about the materials as well as methods and techniques to painting and drawing. Later in their training, they were allowed to participate in completed works with their ‘master’. Leonardo da Vinci is a prime example, whose marks are clearly seen in a couple of paintings done by his tutor.
The difference between then and now, is that copyright and intellectual property are more strictly enforced now than they were then, and because of social media and the growth of on-line sales what is done at a workshop, and touched by your tutor may not be yours to sell without their permission, or to say is your own creation.
Final in the Series of Five Monthly Workshops with David Chen
Loosening up Versus Painting Against the Contour
If you are like me, and admire the work of the Impressionist painters, you may look atyour work and think that it looks too ‘tight’ and wish you could ‘loosen up’ your method of painting.
Like me, you may also be confused as to how you go about doing this. This is where the concept of loosening up is usually confused with the method of painting against contours.
In this final workshop for the semester, this very portant method, that will help your paintings to gain some of that more immediacy and freshness, so often seen in the finest impressionist artworks, can begin to be understood and applied.
Fourth in the Series of Monthly Workshops with David Chen
Relating Objects in the Background to Those in the Rest of Your Composition
Most of us are aware of the concept of the foreground, middle and background divisions in compositions. These planes help the artists to create depth in a scene so that the viewer gets the impression of looking into a painting, not just at a two dimensional flat surface.
When creating these planes, however, we need to think about the relationships between items and objects in each of these areas. without a flow, or reltaitonship in a painting, we end up with a load of disjointed and unrelated objects that have no ‘conversations’ going on between them.
Workshop Number Four of Five 2016
Tutor: David Chen
In this session we discussed the difference between painting portraits using high key colours in contrast to low key, and where these methods have been and are used. Since the Impressionists began using colour so much more dramtically, and the invention of many new colours during the 19th and 20th centuries, high key, or colourist paintings have become the trend for painters. This is in contrast to the low key, and dramatic portraits of artists like Rembrandt, who used a limited palette, a strong single light source from a window for example, and dark simplified backgrounds.
Modern painters often use the wet in wet technique to complete portraits in a single sitting, and the strong use of light and shadow is dismissed for use of colour. This can sometimes mean that the dramatic shadows in paintings of the past is missing, resulting isn a ‘washed out’ look.
Building up a painting by creating a tonal underpainting in a single colour (like a burnt sienna) means more time to create and complete a work, as the undertpainting needs to be allowed to dry bofore the colour layer is added. A telented colleague of mine Cathy van Ee uses this technique very successfully.
To see some of Cathy;s work go to her site at: http://www.vaneegallery.net.
Painting Workshop with David Chen
Understanding the Use of Intense Colour and Grey Tones
I sat in on an extra workshop this weekend, and this extra session was very helpful in pushing my use of colour. As a mainly tonal painter, my paintings tend to not push colour to extremes, I paint in a manner that uses a realist/impressionist crossover so my application of the paint can be conservative in a lot of areas.
The reason why I, and other artists, attend workshops like this one, is that they give you a new perspective and challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone. For me it means using more paint, lashing it on with broad strokes, and looking at my subject with new eyes. It means taking reality and bending it to my will, and creating a new vision. This may mean replacing one colour with another one, or several others. It may mean adding or deleting things from what I am looking at. It pushes me to be a creative painter and not just a copier of the real world around me.
Venue: Frankston Chisholm
Tutor: Bill Hay
The way we light the model for life drawing makes a huge difference. Like portrait drawing and painting, the light and shadow creates drama, and helps to form the contours of the body.
Famous artists have used dramatic lighting to create some of the most impressive portraits and nude studies in art history. Two examples of lighting used to its best are by artists Vermeer and Rembrandt. Vermeer used light through windows, seatng or standing his models so that the light cast strong highlights on to them. Rembrandt painted haunting portraits by keeping one side of the face in shadow and in the case of his self portraits, placing a dark background around the face.
(NOTE: Drawings of nude male figure follow in this article)