Thursday, September 28, 2017

What did Matt Smith Have to Say?

Discipline! One word!

Graphite Sketch 24"x18 "Water Power"
Washed With Water! Finish Shown Below

This is a blog post I intended to finish writing over a year ago, after returning from the Plein Air Convention in Tucson AZ. The draft was still in my blog site, so I decided to finish it. It seemed appropriate for me at this time, and I thought maybe for some of my friends. And... it is a long blog post with many short thoughts he mentioned... very interesting and thought provoking ones.

Matt's first words I wrote down were: “Thin to Thick” and “Dark to Light” and “Discipline.” As a general rule this is probably the most important thing for an artist. Then he got down to talking specifics of doing a landscape. So these are little gems of wisdom. Some of them might be incomplete sentences, but they do contain those gems! All these next sentences and short paragraphs were statements he made while painting a demonstration painting. They were relevant to what he was painting, but even by themselves, with no context of a photograph of his painting, they are important things to think about. I hope you enjoy them! I know I did. It made my mind spiral to more thoughts about each one he uttered... so much so, that sometimes I missed the next sentence and I know I missed some very important words. Oh well, such is what happens when trying to write as fast as the speaker was speaking!

Identify the horizon line first. Why? It is constant. It may be obscured by trees, but be sure to identify where it is. His “horse power” is burnt sienna... his favorite color. (Look up his palette on line.) He also uses Yellow Ochre. (I might need to add this back to my palette). It is a good modifier for other colors. And, it can make a wonderful warm green with blue.

He holds his brush like a pencil instead of under the palm of his hand. At least I noticed this in the beginning.

Light references: Natural light, Direct, Reflective, Reflected blue sky light. Decide why the light is a certain one and where it is coming from. Shadows have reflective light in them. Don’t ignore this! The stronger the light source, the more reflected light you will find in the shadows.

Ultramarine blue with a cool red (alizarin crimson) for the cool shadows. Start with cool, intellectually it keeps him thinking cool in the shadows. There is “light, mid-tone & shadow.” Only temperature change will be for those background mountains. But, it still has to sit in that shadow family. He used cobalt blue saying it was easier to grey a color down. (I use this statement about greying a color down being easier than brightening one up!)

When working outdoors, an "oily medium" is not as good. There can be recurring issues....( hmmm, I wonder what that one meant. What recurring issues?)

There is pinky-violet in the lighter sections of the mountains. The Saguaro - more accents than taking over the sense of place. Use less arms!

In designing foregrounds, dirt patches, sage is a larger element. Whatever is out of harmony must go.
"Modify with the earth colors... which knocks the edge off those 'big' colors!" The "Form of the Land" is linear perspective. (I'll have to think about that one a little more.)

Viridian hue (has little thalo), puts yellow ochre or burnt sienna in it. Now the shadow side of it. think planes here, value, intensity and temperature. Hue is color: red, yellow, blue. He uses Holbein's Viridian hue. And, he uses Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Orange to create his reds. (My thought was to take red off my palette and try this.) His only reds on his palette are Alizarin Crimson (his cool red) and Burnt Sienna (his warm red). His three primary colors are Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, and Alizarin Crimson.

If you build structure into one thing where there are others of that element, the silhouette is recognizable on everything else. Above and beyond the subject ... the way we look at artwork in museums and galleries.

He said "Maynard Dixon --- look at his work."  Staying clean, staying structured! "Allow yourself the freedom to fail." "Follows you into the next painting and the next painting." "The painting is a living, breathing thing!" "Celebrates the organic quality instead of the thumbnail and uses his oil paint early." He said many tend to paint highlights too warm in the distance. And, if you paint the sky first, the rest of the painting will be too dark!

Back to the painting he was working on, the palo verde blooms were cool yellow mostly. And his strokes are going different ways... not all in one methodical way.

Now he knows where to add thicker paint. He uses a #2 flat... primed it with medium or solvent, to go over edges of where the sky and mountain meets. The color or value shifts to create where distant mountains go back. Study when you see it and where!

Whew! All this is my quickly taken notes... 1 1/2 years ago at that Plein Air Convention. But, I had great thoughts when reading the notebook and thought you might enjoy them even in this form.

Below is my finished pastel painting of the Lower Falls at Yellowstone ... from the above drawing and wash.

"Water Power" 24" x 18" Soft Pastel Painting

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