23 February 2015

Last day with Keiko, part 2

Keiko Tanabe is all about the value sketch. She says of herself that she is primarily tonal, not a colorist. Since she wants us to focus on our "plan" for painting a picture, she advocates taking away the color and doing a small value sketch, with either a dry medium (pencil, charcoal) or with one color paint (she uses neutral tint) so we can see clearly where our lightest lights to darkest darks will go. You can use most any color to do a value sketch, but using a darker one (gray, purple, blue) is smartest, of course.

So--I brought in my 12x16-inch drawing of this scene from Parthenay (which I made at 6 a.m. before class!), all ready to paint, and after approving the drawing she fatefully said, "But you're going to do a value sketch first, right?" What could I say? (No? gulp...) So I spent most of the morning on my sketch (which is about 6x9) and then on refining my full-size drawing further. Here is the sketch, and I'm not sure I learned that much from it, but I'll keep doing one before I paint for a while and see if it really does improve my paintings. I do know that planning ahead instead of jumping right in can help; but I'm so impatient with the drawing and so in love with color…

Next I put in a first wash of everything that was blue or gray, and everything that could have blue or gray as a first wash under it because it would be darker than that.

That's all I got done at the last day of the workshop. I will continue to work on this scene at home (already put in two more hours today!) and will post it when it's finished, good or bad.

I have a feeling that this painting will turn out looking more like one of mine than one of Keiko's--it's so intricate and full of details that it will be hard for me to do something quick and loose like she does--but that's okay. I'll try another one in her style soon.

She commented to me when she saw the reference photo that she had painted this scene en plein air while in Chiche (France, at Bandouille, where I went in 2013)--I'd really like to see her rendition (but perhaps not until after I have finished my painstaking and exceedingly slow version, so as not to get too discouraged!).


  1. Love your posts on Keikos workshop! You did well....really....her style and technique are not for the faint hearted and I love colour too and still focus mainly on that but I learnt so much from the workshop last year at Bandouille when I got the chance to participate.

    1. I have a nice compliment for you. Keiko asked me about Bandouille, "Did you like the food?" "Yes," I said, "and Bix accommodated me because I was a vegetarian. Did you like it?" She said she never thought of herself as a foodie and that she eats pretty much whatever people put in front of her wherever she is, but your food was definitely a great feature! Then she asked me what you made me since I was a veg, and I told her about your vegetable tart, and she said she'd have to put in a request for that when she is there this year. So get your puff pastry and your celeriac ready!