Saturday, November 1, 2008

Following the Rules of Painting

Yellowstone River Meander
12 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
When I first saw this scene, I fell in love with the colors. The river was so blue surrounded by several shades of ochre grasses. This is an area where the buffalo really do roam. The lodge pole pines line the tops of the rolling hills to add a wonderful dark contrast to an otherwise light landscape.
I did several small sketches before I started this painting. I had trouble getting the shapes of the small islands at first. The shapes were very important to the overall effect of the scene. I really wanted to share how I felt when I first saw this place. I feel pretty good about the final result. There were, however, some things that might have gotten in the way.
I have studied pastel painting for about seven years now, focusing on landscape painting for the last two or three. I have been learning all the "rules" for representational painting. I understand the principles of aerial perspective, value, temperature, focal area, and more. Sometimes, though, I think the rules get in the way of what I am trying to convey. For instance, I know that yellow is the first "color" to disburse in the atmosphere, so that in the foreground, the yellow is warm and intense, the mid ground yellow begins to get cooler tan, and by the distance it is a cool grey. However, this is not what I saw in the scene above. I know that an artist has to use these "rules" to trick the viewer into seeing what you saw, but I sometimes have trouble swallowing it. For this painting, I hit on a compromise by adding cooler grays to the distant hills while still using a pale yellow. Rules, after all, are often broken when it comes to art.


virtual voyage said...

This is so effective - it communicates how much you enjoyed the scenery around; lovely technique.

Willa said...

Wow! I love the colors!!

Tom said...

Rule Breaker,
I think that thinking of those nasty ol rules as applications makes it easier to adjust a creation. It reminds me of the opacity layer adjustment in photoshop like 40% sometimes is what make the painting work.. Since I usually have a intense heavy technique,it helps me to remember applications which require me to adjust the pressure of my pastel to the painting.
I think you did a great job on capturing the intensity of the river. Also, managing to accomplish a sense or aerial perspective is remarkable.
The beauty of nature rings from this painting