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!).

Last day with Keiko, part 1

On our last day, we had a special request from one student for Keiko to show us how she does a "wet" scene--i.e., a street scene shiny with rain, that shows all the reflections. She used a portion of the same photo from which we worked the day before, but greatly simplified it and moved the vanishing point way up the page, so that there was a huge street area. It looked a little odd when sketched out, because of that vast empty space, but all became clear once she painted it--you need all that empty space to accommodate some nice dramatic reflections!

Here is her planning thumbnail:

Here is Keiko, working on the demo. In this first picture, you can see her palette, and how small it is! Although she knows when and where to put in a pop of color, it is calculated. Mostly, she mixes her own colors from a palette of about six: Burnt umber, burnt sienna, ultramarine, cobalt turquoise, cadmium orange, and a yellow (don't know what) were the only colors she used this weekend, plus neutral tint, and her go-to mixes seem to be variations on purple and blue, those colors that can easily go pale or dark. She says that she is a painter of light and shadow, not of color.

This is how we see what she is doing--with a mirror positioned above her. I found it a little disconcerting, since everything she did was backwards in the mirror, and then when I went to do my own, I had the image reversed in my head and had to really focus to get it back to where it belonged!

And here is the finished painting, which took about 40 minutes (not including the drawing, which she had already prepared).

After lunch, Keiko did one last demo for us, including a favorite scene of hers, which is some variation of a cafe scene with umbrellas. She gave us all photographs of this one so we could paint our own later if we liked, and then proceeded to show us how greatly she simplifies the scene and re-crafts it to fit her purposes. She liked the building and the street, but wanted the cafe in place of all the fussy-looking detail in front of the shops on the right, so she just put one there! This entire painting was done, from drawing through final shadows, in 50 minutes.

I can certainly see the advantage of learning and developing the speed and the discriminating eye of Keiko Tanabe! If you do a great job, you have a fantastic painting in an hour; if you mess it up, you've only spent an hour on it and still have time for another! I'm not there (and may never be), but it's something to think about. I love her results. This was a great workshop.

22 February 2015

Proposed for today

Here are my two choices for today--we'll see how it goes! Both taken by me, from my trip to France, one from a village and one from the tour bus in Paris (that's what I like about it--the angle).