Just as music is the study, the modulation, of sound,
painting is the study of light, there is nothing but light – from the object/view and from the canvas. Painting is learning to see (and simplify – simplification). Every stroke has 4 properties

(Learning to to observe and to see)

Outline vs form (masses/volume) in fact we apprehend the world more by touch – Speed's example of child's drawing of a face vs reality, Egyptian and Byzantine oultine drawings – dicovery of perspective – discovey of chiaroscuso – discovery of retinal image field

To learn to see is to learn to observe (patient careful looking = painting from life, photos are possible – but need some "correcvtions" – and there's the  problem of interpretation) and to know how we see and what we're looking for – shapes, values, color temperatures, edges, etc.

1 Drawing – first composition – 2/3 placement or golden rectangle etc (Bruce Macevoy's grids) + group masses/group values – white face in a dark room like a quiet voice speaking – an enhancement of the Caraveggio style clair-obscur (chiroscuso). Nothing centered unless deliberately so

Then, draw big shapes (Zbukvic's have faith) no details, no squeaky lines – not like children's coloring books. Looking for volume but even more just for colored shapes – hmm is there a conflict here?

Then we go to masses – 9 values max or even 5 or just 3 – darks, lights, mid-tones – or Macpherson simplified it down to 2 – light family and shadow family))

(close up of a photo shows mosaic surface)

Pure observation = the Carder Method -

Loomis diagram of canvas as a square superimposed on landscape, the "string grid" in the Draughtsman's contract – how the eye works

  • image on retina – two tiny images on the little retinas (rods and cones) – we see in stereo – two closely overlapping circles (or rectangles) and only centre of interest is in focus (sharp edges + strong values/contrast?), in "stereo means we can see "round" edge of an apple or face = 1 reason for soft edges – close up of a photo – blobs = photo "mosiac", Loomis "grid" view of landscape – values are primordial cos they give the light (can use a photo to get grayscale, or a coloured filter or just squint to see them + value strip – you can even buy ones you hold up (with a grid thing to frame subject/identify composition)) – but block in masses cd be said to be a prob 'cos masses don't correspond to photomosiac (or even to light – they're broken up by light!) – it's more like touches/pointillism?
"Wicked stripey one", oil on board, too recent to be comfortable!

Yeah, well, after 10 years or so

Yeah, well after 10 or so years of painting - getting more and more intensive (age 23 - 33) - I stopped in '93 (big personal upheaval) and only started again in 2008 - inspired by seeing JoLoMo's paintings on the internet - such fun - so free + so much other stuff on the net.

"Interesting", oil on wood panel from the hardware store - "interesting" because it makes me think "What if.." I did this or this or this or this..... yeah, right

Between 90 and 93 I did a lot of "paintouts" (= painting in the street festivals/competitions) - that was wonderful. I was using acrylics at the time and I still like them - maybe I should check out e.g. Golden Opens etc. to see if they have the richness to be used as well as oils. I've got Old Holland acrylics and they're expensive, but still don't work as well as oils - it's a pity because you can do nice things with acrylics. I often use them for the my underpainting.

Anyway, I'm searching to transcend myself, discover something within or without myself (who knows?) – produce a painting inspired by the “muse" (“Wow, did I paint that?” - no, it's come from somewhere beyond (or so deep inside me) I wasn't aware) – Picasso so wrong when he said “I do not seek, I discover?hmm was that it – not so good then??. And, it is the works that matter – e.g. Michaelangelo?sp?/Van Gogh – not the artist – the artist becomes subsidiary, irrevelant even, to the work - it's a gift to others (to humanity in high faultin' terms) – and that's the point – to share/give to others – even if ego were necessary – 'tis not the goal – Nick Simmons comment on people working against others so true. At base it is “just for fun”; at the highest level (Levitan is my current fav.) the artist is irrelevant – they have provided a universal experience...


Why paint? (1)

I met Van Gogh on the road to Tarascon, and seized him by the arm, "Vincent", I've come back from the future - they've made you big – one of the greatest artists who ever lived !

He was concentrated, on his idea for a canvas, "The painter on the road to Tarascon”.

I've had the breaks I need – met some impressionists and some other great painters in Paris, came to the South and got the dazzling colour idea, even the failed "Yellow house" community with my friend Gauguin – all served, don't feel sorry for me –  I don't even care about all that - I just want - I've just got to paint."

When we were small – primary school – and loved drawing/art, as most kids do, we drew mainly war scenes – for us a great artist would be someone who could draw a perfect e.g. horse from memory - the idea of drawing from life was unknown to us – I guess renaissance painters and the “pompiers” impressed us most.
My grandchildren paint war scenes - tanks aircraft - and machines - too (boys) or princesses and horses (girls). Hmm, that's interesting – a gender difference in selection of subject matter (don't think there is one in technique?) - probably disappears after adolescence, I think. What did kids draw in previous eras? Do any childhood drawings of famous artists remain? Surely. This mindset seems to continue to adolescence (graphic representation of reality– so mastered it can be done from memory) – and adolesence is when a lot of people stop drawing (percentage of students enrolled in art studies + hobbyists = ?%) 
View from a tower block, acrylic on panel 80 x 120     1992 - a lifetime ago!

When Rich's big brother's friend - who (wow!) was studying at art collge (we were about 11) unrolled the oft-used huge piece of heavy paper and showed us a charcoal drawing of a steam train - more realistic and with darker darks and shading we hadn't even dreamed of with our little HB pencils (and we thought we were so good!) - it blew us away. First in a long line to do so. It's people like that who have affected me more than the "greats" I gradually discovered.

When I went to university (to study science), I felt I wanted to draw and could maybe do some nice stuff in pencil or black wax crayon (!) - I did draw on and off and kept visiting the galleries, etc.

 This is also when I bought those Michel de Gallard posters that had such an impact on me (Waterhouse's "Lady of Shallot" and other Pre-Raphaelite paintings were big at the time too (must say in pasing that this present revival à l'ARC of 19th century art - Bougereau and the pompiers - is deserved from a technical point of view - but the content can easily be maudlin - Zorn, Sorolla, Sargant are a beeter bet - I do like Bastien Lepage a lot).

The other thing was during a period at around age 21 when I was unemployed - the beautiful green of the moss/lichen on a beech tree trunk - I wanted to paint it and so I started painting again - hey, even did evening classes at the art college (they were soooo useless back then - do your own thing, folks!).

Why paint, then? 1) for pleasure - it is such a pleasure! 2) to discover what's "in me" - I just don't know what I'm going to come up with - in fact, when things get good, it seems to come from outside/beyond...

What motivates you to do art? Please leave a comment...