Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Creativity and the purpose in Education

Sir Ken Robinson speaks on TED off Utube and raises some interesting points FOR creativity in education: "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"

Watch this 20min video (yes it is long but worth it. He is fun to listen to and not dry and boring).

As a soon-to-be qualified Art Teacher I am of course an avid supporter of the arts being taught in education. There are so many ways of learning which the visual arts supports as a vechical for teaching knwoeldge, such as; history, geography, science, english. The core learning areas can be supported by teaching information through art, for example, colour theory relates to science, as well as light, art reflects history, geographical locations of artists, artwork and art movements are taught etc. Being creative requires problem-solving and conceptual skills which influences the meta-cognitive learning.

Robinson comments on the heirarchy of subjects taught in school. He states, everywhere in the world more or less have the main core learning areas of english, maths and science as at the top, priority subjects. However, he stipulates this is a deliberate push for academia for the purpose of people getting jobs and professional careers. (I love what he coins 'academic inflation').

He talks about Multiple Intelligences by describing the senario of a girl dancer. Identifying who she is by what her learning style is. This changed how this child behaved and subsequently learned because people finally acknowledge her interests and learning style. Basically summarising, Robinson explains not everyone learns the same, or has the same interests.

It is important to acknowledge and accept our differences is the message I think Robinson conveys as well as his arguements for the benefits of the arts supporting education.

How to make a painting -Step 4 Final Detail

Ability Level -Beginner

So now you are near the end of your painting. Start to finalise by focus on detail, highlights and shadows (contrasts) and fixing up things which aren't working.
Trio, Acrylic on Board, C.Dwyer 2011. This image retains copyright of the artist.
So with this technique, constant reworking of brushstrokes of colour was used. I emphasied and exaggerated the shadow of the bowl by adding pure blue and red. Yellow was my highlight for the pears and bowl.

Looking at the finished painting now, what I would change would be the sharpness of the yellow highlight on the bowl and maybe blend the graduated colour of the purple tablecloth into the foreground more. But true to the nature of the technique (wet-in-wet), it is dry now and I have left it. But just because I am not correcting my mistakes doesn't mean its a bad painting. I was not wanting to achieve photorealism or proportional perfection. I recognise what needs to be changed, and thats the main thing. 

I am happy with this outcome, because for me it is loose and a different style. I hope this has been a simple enough tutorial for a beginner to follow. Choose a simple still life if your a beginner. Good luck.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Spectrum (Colour) Song

I have just discovered an amazing song about colour, and indirectly about blending colour.

A song created in 1961 by Paul Fress aka Ludwig Von Drake (Duck character), The Spectrum Song, for the Television series A Wonderful World of Color. The song was introduced as an educational segment for viewers for the transition from black and white t.v. to colour t.v.. 

Though this song was before my time, and I am only now discovering it by chance, I LOVE it! I find it very catchy and funny. I checked out Utube and found a clip of the original video, and another presentation someone created. Here they are:

Here are the lyrics:
 The Spectrum Song Lyrics
Red, yellow, green, red, blue blue blue
Red, purple, green, yellow, orange, red red
Red, yellow, green, red, blue blue blue
Red, purple, green, yellow, orange, red red

Blend them up and what do you get?
Cerise, chartreuse, and aqua
Mauve, beige, and ultra marine, and every colour in between
Hazo ka li ka no cha lum bum

Colour has it's harmony and just like I have said
Red, yellow, green, red, blue blue blue
Red, purple, green, blue, purple, red red

Blend them all and what do you get?
Cerise, chartreuse, and aqua
Mauve, beige, and ultra marine, and every colour in between
Ing za ri ka fo zi brun brun

Colour has it's harmony and just like I have said
Red, yellow, green, red, blue, pink, grey
And white, and plaid and blue,
green, white, yellow and toodinz 'n' and and and
right and and strips with blue and a black and Plaid and a....a

oo and ...vut vut, vait a second, vut vut's going on wid all da colours?
Blue, red, green, green, white, white, black....
vut ever happened to just plain old
lavender blue dilly dilly dilly dilly.......dilly...silly
Text sourced from: http://artists.letssingit.com/paul-frees-lyrics-the-spectrum-song-paul-frees-4v2bd9v

Description of Colours:
Cerise = Deep pinkish red. Think of a cherry
Chertreuse = yellow-green
Mauve = also known as Mallow is a pale gray purple (sometimes more blue or more pink)
Ultramarine = deep ocean blue
Plaid = Not a colour but refers to the type of cloth pattern.

Please if anyone has any other information about the funny lyrics and what some things mean like "Hazo ka li ka no cha lum bum" please leave a comment. Also, if anyone else has discovered some good colour theory songs and other song about art related topics, do share.

Friday, July 8, 2011

How to make a painting -Step 3 Blocking In Colour

Ability Level -Beginner

Step 3 -Block in Colour:
Once your have completed the tonal underpainting of your composition, whether in greyscale or monochromatic, now block in your painting using the colours (hue) which match the tonal underpainting. You may choose to use the same process as working your darks, midtones or lights first. 

When you have blocked in an area with colour, work back into it with highlights and shadows/contrasts. 

In this demo, I have taken a Cezanne inspired approach to my painting technique. This kind of technique would probably suit beginners because you don't need to worry about blending.
Cezanne was a post-impressionist artist. His technqiue was to use brushstrokes of colour next to and overlapping each other. He saw the world in planes (geometric shapes) and painted to the shape of objects using squares and rectangles. So pears, rather than looking nicely and smoothly curved, look blocky to show shape.

Unfortunately in my demo, as I mentioned my process, I block in using colour and then add detail. So this image here shows just passed that step. I had forgotten to take a photo in between, but as you can see, the pears still have the original underpainting. What I would have done, was just flatly and smoothly painting the colours, for example, the cream of the wall, the purple of the tablecloth (with graduated variations to show dark and light patches). Here I have started to use the Cezanne technique of blocks of colour brusk marks.
Don't get caught up in detail. Use a short or long flat brush of a medium size so you can't fixate on detail.

This image is copyright of C.Dwyer

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to make a painting -Step 2 Blocking In Underpainting

Ability Level -Beginner

Once you have decided on your composition, or if working from a photo, and have made a tonal drawing, and a colour scheme drawing  if you wish, the next step is starting your painting. (See How to make a painting -Step 1 Tonal Drawing).

I always re-gesso my canvases even though the pre-stretched premade ones already have 2-3 coats. For me it helps me get in the frame of mind. Plus I feel it is nicer to have a fresher grip. 

Gesso is a white undercoat base paint primer with a chalky texture to give better grip to the paint. Apply 2-3 coats and if you want a smooth finish sand in between layers. Apply with a brush or roller, again depending on the desired effect.

Next, draw in your composition outline. I use charcoal or pastel pencil, as using graphite pencil can come through thin layers of paint and is harder to rub out.

Outline drawing of composition on canvas board using a light blue pastel pencil. First stage of blocking in underpainting

Blocking in the underpainting in greyscale (variations of black and white paint using shades of grey to make your tonal scale). You may also choose to do a tonal underpainting using a single colour (monochromatic) either similar to the overall tone of your paint or the opposite or complementry colour to add a different effect. By using greyscale or a colour, this helps you get the tones correct before applying paint. If you jump in and use colour straight away, you may find yourself repainting over areas again and again because you just can't get the colour right. Especially as you continue to paint, because as you paint in more areas of colour, it affects the colour next to it.

This underpainting I choose to use a red underpainting to contrast with the overall green focus being the pears. I added black to the red to create my darkest darks and white to the red to create my lightest lights. I used clear painting medium to help dilute and spread the light colour.

If you start by applying your darkest darks first, this establishes the value range and I think makes it easier to go backwards in value. Or you may wish to start at mid value range and go either side.

Now is the time to check your values as close to correct. Use the greyscale chart from Step 1 to assess if your close. I do this before I put the paint on the canvas. 

Next is blocking in the underpainting using a mid tone range of the colour for that area.

How to make a painting -Step 1 Tonal Drawing

Ability Level: Beginner

First do the very basics; select reference photos, or choose subject matter and draw/sketch compositions.

Then do a tonal drawing. It doesn't matter if it is abstract painting or realistic, by making a tonal drawing, you are making sure you get the foundations of the painting right first. Think of it like a house, if the frame isn't good and correct, you will encounter problems later on. 

So what is tone and tonal value?

Tone is the scale of lightness to darkness of a colour, but you are not looking at what colour (or hue) it is. You are assessing the colour value (ie Tonal Value). When assessing tonal value, you match the colour to a tonal chart; the lightest colour value is 1 and the darkest colour value is 9 (some charts vary and value from 1-10). Check tone by squinting and if the colour or tone blends in then it is a match.

This is my own Tonal Value chart I made. You may print it out and use it. Cut out the above squares. Place over your colour or tone or paint and match it up. Adjust your paint until you achieve your desired tone.

So by doing a tonal drawing and identifying the values, you are setting the foundation of your painting and can make corrections. Once you have made your tonal drawing, and if you choose to make a colour scheme drawing, you may choose to make your first painting layer an underpainting (which is the base layer and can be a greyscale or monochromatic painted version of your composition to then apply colour over the top).


When I make a tonal drawing, I actually write the value number in that area as a quick reference -think paint-by-numbers.

Tip: Do not have equal parts of tone in the composition. If you have 1/3 light, 1/3 medium, and 1/3 dark tones, it  probably would not be a very interesting composition. As a general rule, mix it up to vary tonal range to create more interest. 2/3rds dark and 1/3rd highlights or vice-versa. 1/5th dark and the rest a combo of medium and light values would create interest. You be the judge.

Next: Step 2 -Blocking in the underpainting
Step 3: Blocking in the colour
Painting.com has some good activities, see links here