I have been working on some of the tips and techniques that Don Andrews talks about and demonstrates in his DVDs. It began with “Waiting” and “Seeing Lake Michigan” re-posted below:
The first thing I learned was how to create a pathway of light by leaving that pathway white and painting into it, not totally eliminating it. This seemed to enhance the feeling of light in these paintings. Too much and the painting looks speckled. Carefully designed pathways give the viewer a path to follow.
The next thing I tried was building up what Don Andrews calls granulating washes. He begins with weaker and lighter colors and builds them up in layers working toward the darker pigments. The fun thing was wetting large areas and, with what I used to consider reckless abandon, feeding color washes in and tilting the washes this way and that making sure that everytime you do this that the paper remains wet. By tilting, you are trying to avoid making those blooms or cauliflowers. Some of the washes from the above paintings look like this:
The above washes were actually built up two or three times, re-wetting the paper as I went.
Another thing I learned is to build up darks and more intricate brushstrokes and detail around what I considered to be the main focus of the painting. An example would be the head of the little girl in “Seeing Lake Michigan”. I tried to place more brushstrokes and color in and around her cheek by varying my line and including more of them, I tried to frame the head between two sunlit shoulders and lead the viwers eye ever-closer through the intricate wrinkles in her shirt and the swooping lines of her strands of hair.
In the painting, “Maine Coastline”, the figures are less distinct. Andrews talks about how to paint these figures and make them look believable without making them “precious”. Too much detail on figures from a distance can ruin the effect of a landscape. He talks about leaving some light on the figures as well as paying attention to proportion of the head, torso and legs. He states that figures are more interesting if you vary the position of the legs and make them less stick-like. He demonstrates how you can allow color washes to run into each other to furthur mute the figure and allow for reflected light to enhance the over-all pose. He also suggests placing a shadow line under each figure to ground them. Below is a close-up of the figures in Maine Coastline:
In the past, I would not have thought to allow the blue from the jeans to run into the fleshtone of the legs.
I still have another DVD to view and need much more practice with these ideas. I find myself concentrating a little too hard and need to grasp this idea of making large flowing washes, develop better paths of light and create more fun tiny figures, but I like the guidelines he offers.
NOTE* I am not advertising these DVDs nor do I receive anything by sharing what I’ve learned from them. I am just sharing some of the things I have tried and learned.
Stephen Kellogg has just submitted a poem inspired by the above painting, “Maine Coastline”. I like how he took the two characters and created a story about them.