In case you can't tell, I have developed a love affair with cadmium red. I just looove it. It's such a vibrant, inviting color and shade that it invokes excitement, imagination and expectation. I LOVE the way it pokes through and unites a work, exciting the vision and emotion along the way! On this set of paintings, done for Mountain Mist Gallery in Cashiers, NC, the first thing I did was to select canvases, then coat them all with a luscious layer of Winsor&Newton cadmium red light, in acrylic, then after that is dry, paint with WN oil colors upon them. The (sometimes not so) small areas that peak through, instead of being the white of the pre-gessoed canvas, is a vibrant red that ads the excitement needed to compliment the brushwork, which I hope conveys movement and life.
Longhorn, oil/canvas, 36"x48", frameless.
I urge you: Go Bold!
The success of any work of art is directly related to the confidence that is expressed by that work. A work that is bold, whether primary or subtle, is the combination of strokes and texture, color and tone that portray a confidence that is absolutely irresistible! A confident work will be the exclamation point in any room it occupies, adding life and exuberance to the atmosphere. Ideally, the work will be that object that will energize the room and the people within.
As I teach, I push my students to get to and beyond their comfort zone and go for that area just past where they have been, to where they are afraid to go. Yikes!! This entails a whole lot of sometimes fear, sometimes insecurity, sometimes blind trust to jump off into something brand new and completely foreign.
It sounds easier than it is: to try for bold, knowing that the outcome could be a complete failure. The willingness to fail is the key to growth. If one won't allow themselves to fail, they won't allow themselves to grow.
This work, Longhorn, is the result of working past my comfort zone, starting with the bold red, and using large scale brushes, palette knives and modelling paste, ending with a steer that projects off the canvas by an inch and a half at those points that would be closest- the eye, the nose and the left horn. Its so exciting! I love the textures and love the bold application of paint and paste.
Implements of Creation, 8"x 10", oil/canvas
I tone the canvas on most all the works I do. What might be the benefits of toning your canvas, you ask? Putting a tone on the base canvas, of any color, will help to unify the work by letting that initial tone, in this case Cadmium Red Med, poke thru all those places that would otherwise have plain white canvas peeking through, giving the work an unfinished appearance. You can see it at junctions between colors, in the places that the overpaint gets thin, and helps to give this work a warm glow that then lets the cools of the blues, teals and purples pop off that base warm of Cadmium Red. What that creates is a work that VIBRATES VISUALLY. This will ultimately excite the senses of the viewers, encouraging curiosity that translates to interest, thus potential clients. Interest is the first step to creating clients.
This work began as an experiment on how to create an exciting painting of mundane objects. Through layers of application, the color choices affected the feeling coming from the painting. Initially in all warm colors, this painting just didn't sing or pop until the cool colors - blues, teals, purples - were added. Those jumped off the base red that toned the whole canvas! By adding that red in the beginning, it ties all corners of the work together with the commonality of that red!
The fish market is an endless opportunity to experience new views, new people, new textures. The high lights and deep shadows excite the visual senses.
These four images are to be viewed as a block series.
These will be 10"x 14", oil on canvas.
With spontaneity and boldness, the work just came together on it's own, it seemed. There was very little that felt like work.
I attend works like this with a mission to use as few strokes as possible. In no way am I trying to create a photographic realism, instead opting for the 'emotion' of the items to come through. I contend that buyers of art are actually buying the EMOTION the piece evokes, rather than the image as photographic substitution. That said, practicing the art of mark-making is what an artist may want to consider as their domain, their expertise.
A restrained approach to painting will, paradoxically, create an image that looks for all the world as it came off without a thought. Spontaneously. Fresh. As in 'produce'. This is something that come to artists' as they mature into their style. Having taught art for decades, I can say with certainty that, you almost never see budding artists with a gift for patience. And more times than not, it is due to the penchant for trying to replicate the Old Masters' style of photo realism with chiaroscuro - think Rembrandt or Vermeer. This standard is very very difficult to attain, much of that because artists, people really, are less than patient, getting more so as the decades go by. I speak of myself, here.
That said, there's a positive side to the calculated fresh look: the quickly worked brush strokes and textural paint steps into your viewers world. That paint that is sticking out from your canvas is invading your viewers space. Those brush strokes invite your audience to step into your head as you created the work. I sit looking at the portraits of my daughters as I write this, and even though I created them, I marvel at the interest in paint-into-paint that happens all over the canvas. There are particular strokes that just jump off the page, inviting me to linger at them, and if I wasn't the artist, I would wonder how they did that and, most importantly, WHY. That question, why, is the key to viewer interest. That will be for another day, however.
Finished work! And a happy recipient, too. It was a struggle to get the puppies to separate from the background because they are all the same tones and hues. I was going to darken the woodwork on the antique couch but it would have turned the artwork into a discussion about the couch with puppies instead of a picture of two dogs on a couch. The lively colors and flowing application - along with the curlies of their haircoat - gives a fun, interesting mix of color, action and contrast.
I think a successful endeavor!
Well! Look at what we have HERE. A new blog site, created specifically to encourage other artists to pen something every day. In this way I can also encourage myself to sketch daily as well. It is fundamental to the growth and development of not only creativity, but skills as an artist. Check back often to see what may have transpired. Who knows - it just may inspire you to create, too.
A current portrait, this is a fun little (14"x17") watercolor drawing that will give this pairs' owner a lifetime of enjoyment.
Still in it's middle phases, this work is meticulously sketched for accuracy and then artistic flair added, and now the watercolors are being added in layers, making sure to add colorized excitement as you go - but bear in mind just 'where' you put these colors, because if I were then to come back and add a complimentary color (a color opposite on the color wheel) on top of it, the resulting color could well be an unpleasant grey. Be ever vigilant to keep this in mind! Especially with transparent media and media that isn't absolutely opaque (such as colored pencils, watercolor pencils, even gouache), the colors are going to be filtered thru every layer you put on top of that
Judy Barr Dodds
An illustrator by education, medical illustrator to be exact, but an artist at heart. I genuinely love to teach - I teach at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, generally teaching the foundation drawing and figure classes. I also teach individuals that are driven to create. I adore connecting and encouraging artists past their insecurities and on to great artisans.