If you compare these two images you get a very different feeling from them. There is a heightened amount of visual tension created by placing the point of interest nearer to the top edge of the frame. While an increased portion of the pole is also displayed, it is the placement of the focal point that has a greater effect on perception.
That’s a very broad statement and perhaps I am slightly overstating it, but it seems to be the conclusion to draw after reading “The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa” and watching Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rivers and Tides”. Go ahead and think of an artist and decide if the term obsessive could be applied to them. OK for those of you that didn’t think of Van Gogh you likely didn’t have any problems coming up with a different one. You can call it passion, dedication or obsession but it is a large part of what we celebrate about an artist and there work. Take for instance the concept of a painting a day, where an artist tries to create a finished painting every day and provide it for sale on the Internet. You could argue that this is really about working as an artist but as consumers of that art it is the purchaser who has helped decide that the process augments the value. I’m sure there have been artists who have attempted a painting a day but have fallen be the wayside likely because they lacked what may be truly required, obsession.
I sometimes like to use vine charcoal to make preliminary drawings for paintings or to make corrections of my under-paintings, but one of the benefits of the soft charcoal is also it’s drawback. It leaves allot of charcoal dust behind that mixes with the paint. One solution is to use fixative which can have some nasty solvents in them. I have a better solution that is non toxic (well at least to the end user), use a microfiber cleaning cloth. If you use the cloth delicately you can remove most of the loose dust while leaving behind a nice charcoal drawing that won’t mix heavily with the next layer. It works so well in fact that you need to be careful to not overdo it as you can almost completely erase with this method. I’m also not certain just what effect fixative will have on a painting long term so simply removing excess charcoal seems to be a better solution to me.
Here is the charcoal right after making a correction
Just press lightly against the dust and the cloth picks it up without smudging
And the result
One further benefit is that the cloth can be rinsed with water, dried and reused over and over.
When you first saw this picture you’re attention was likely drawn directly to the figure on the stairs, such is the power of a single point of interest with a large tonal contrast against it’s background. Further information in the picture is conveyed by the lines leading upward to the series of closed doors and by the apparent action of the figure. It’s unlikely that a person standing statically facing the camera would create as cogent an image.
While I was taking some reference shots for a painting series I am working on I noticed the strong side-lighting and it’s effect on this weathered wooden fence. I love how the protrusion of a nail expands into a long shadow across the frame. Also the light brings out the texture of the wood as it’s grain forms long shaded valleys. So the message is to look beyond what you see immediately, how many fences have you walked past lately?
I think there comes a time for every painter when they inadvertently forget to wash their brushes properly after using them. I am not that artist, I am the one who forgets repeatedly. So having a few brushes that required some care, I bought some brush cleaner. I’ve obscured the label for the benefit of my imaginary sponsors.
I’m always somewhat skeptical when it comes to claims of non toxicity and efficacy. It elicits the same response as a late night ad for knives that cut through steel and they can still cut a tomato “this thin”. In my slightly industrialized world if it doesn’t require a respirator how could it possibly work. Well it does, in a matter of minutes dried oil paints were dissolved and brushes were “restored”.
I was amazed, so amazed in fact that I had to know just how it worked. So like Toto I pulled back the curtain, actually I downloaded the MSDS sheet for it. And behold I had been sucked in as assuredly as if I had ordered those knives in three easy installments. Ethanol 1000 ppm, What? It’s alcohol and it’s only 0.175 proof, no wonder it’s non toxic and the label doesn’t say what the active ingredient is. Oh well it worked and that’s all that matters but if I ever run out of this stuff I might try a martini.
Here are some images I shot in the last two weeks with a Pentax ME. There is a commonality among these images and that is the use of contrast. The first three use contrast to accentuate texture. The image of the lone crab apple clinging on is about the contrast of forms, the circular silhouette of the apple against the linear framework of the branches. The last image is about the contrast of light and dark.
A quick sketch of an Olympus Trip 35 that I did previously. I enjoy doing loose sketches like this because they really only require a pen and a peice of paper. It also goes allong with the series of paintings I’m working on.