We’re going to do a little jump again – Partially because I need to focus my thoughts in preparation for the first of many conventions this summer. So here we go! CONVENTIONS AS AN ARTIST: WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW? SHOULD YOU KNOW THINGS? LET’S FIND OUT! 3 TIPS FOR ATTENDING ARTIST ALLEY 1. GET THERE EARLY I recommend arriving at the convention AT LEAST an hour before the doors open. I can’t tell you how many times I arrive at my table, only to discover my table placement will require a…unique…setup solution to garner aisle traffic. It is also nice to have a little quiet time before the doors open to collect your thoughts and mentally prep for the attendees. 2. AIM YOUR TABLE TOWARDS TRAFFIC Since aisle traffic can flow both ways, I recommend setting your table up like a sound shell, with a major inward facing wall directed at the heaviest flow of traffic, and a minor inward facing wall pointed towards the lighter flow of traffic. Not sure where the heaviest flow of traffic will be? Look to where attendees will be arriving from. Are you at a coveted corner table? Maybe two outward facing walls would be best for you. Wherever you are, be aware of your surroundings and be creative. 3. TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR WORK You may think you know what pieces are selling well based on customer feedback, but if you keep track of numbers, you could be surprised. Sometimes a less hyped piece will outsell pieces with more hype. A piece featuring a trending pop culture character may draw people in, but that doesn’t mean it will sell well amidst a sea of similar pieces by other artists. Alternatively, a quiet piece featuring a sleeping cat may not draw as many people in, but that doesn’t mean it won’t sell well. And those are my three tips for today. I may or may not have set aside 9 or 12 additional tips to share later in the summer. Hopefully, they prove useful to someone.
EMPHASIZING THE SUBJECT For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about composition. And to help, I’ve brought along a couple assistants: Hobgoblin and Nobody. When thinking about composition, there are three aspects to consider: The Emphasis, or Subject The Structure, or Environment The Balance, or...uh...Balance. Today, we’ll be focusing on the first, and most important, of the three aspects of composition– The Emphasis. When talking about the Emphasis, I often think of it as the Subject of the piece, as it should be the object or area within a piece to which the viewer’s eye is immediately drawn. Take this for example. Where is your eye immediately drawn? What is the subject of the piece? Why, yes Nob. Within a sea of darkness, the viewer’s eye should be drawn to you, because that is the area of the composition with the most contrast. As a general rule of thumb, the eye is drawn to the brightest spot in a dark composition. In this case, you are also the brightest spot in the composition. Ah, hehehe…why yes, Hob! In fact, why don’t you look behind you! In “Robins of Spring,” instead of directing the eye from the darkest to lightest spot, I did the opposite, and used the darkness of the robins hoods to pull the viewer in from the overall brightness of the composition. There are a few other tactics I used to emphasize the subject in “Robins,” but we’ll get to those later. Contrast is just one way an artist can emphasize a subject. Other methods include: Thank you Nob! Anyways, other methods of emphasis include Saturation: Camera Focus: Motion: And Faces or Figures: NO NO NO! Not that one! Perfect! Thank you Nob! I think that will conclude our lesson on Composition for today. Next week, we’ll talk about structure within a composition and… Um…I guess I’ll have some shadowy figures presiding over the next lesson. Greaaaaat...
USING YOUR PALETTE Since the interruption from the previous post has been taken care of, let’s talk about how to use your palette, shall we? One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was trying to work directly in color. I “knew” an apple is red, so if I’m painting an apple, I just need to paint red, right? You could, I guess. But there is a better way. What would you say if I told you the best way to paint with color is to not use color at all? The little owl is right, old-timer with the mustache that literally got out of control when I was drawing it. You need to start opening your mind to new ideas, because by starting with something like this: …I’m able to control all the light and shading before even touching color. And because I already have the only colors I can use, I can focus on utilizing those colors to come up with this: So how did I get from Kansas to Oz so quickly? Let me break it down for you, step by step. STEP 1 – DRAW THE SUBJECT IN B&W. As mentioned before, by keeping the object grayscale, I’m able to focus more on how light and shadow play with the object. STEP 2 – CHOOSE YOUR COLORS. Well, half the work for this step is already done, as we took the time in the previous lesson to create a unified palette, right? So now, we just pick out the colors we know are found in an apple. As I’m sure you know, nothing in your observable field of view is purely one color. Even the blackened screen of your TV reflects various shades of the yellow light bouncing around your room from time to time. So we can’t just limit ourselves to reds. Below I have a gradient bar identifying the six main colors I used in the apple (excluding the brown and green from the stem and leaf.) Speaking of gradient bar, I should probably pull back the curtain for a moment, which leads us to… STEP 3 – GRADIENT MAPS AND YOU. Now that you have your B&W drawing, as well as the colors of the apple (Excluding leaf and stem), open up a gradient map in Photoshop (Layers>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map) and plop your chosen colors into the gradient editor (seen below). Once you have the colors in place and adjusted accordingly, your B&W apple should look like this: STEP 4 – TWEAK TWEAK TWEAK! As you see, the gradient map colors EVERYTHING. How do you fix that? With vector masks! Applying a vector mask to the gradient map layer will allow you to block out areas you don’t want the gradient map to affect by painting the area black. Notice how the stem and leaf are grayish again, while the light violet has been removed from the background. STEP 5 – FINISHING TOUCHES Selecting a green and a light brown, paint on a layer over the leaf and stem, and then set the layer’s blending mode to “Overlay.” And presto! Like magic, the once B&W apple is in stunning technicolor! This, of course, is only one way to use color in your paintings. As you advance, you’ll probably be able to see the value in every color and paint without a B&W place-holder to begin with. Also, we didn’t touch AT ALL upon color theory, or using color to guide the eye through a composition, or a lot of other things important to color... Uff-da. I think I have a few more color posts in my future. Oh well. Until then, feel free to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Tumblr!
As it can be difficult to find any specific post as time goes on, this Master Post will act as an index for all the Tutorial Tuesday posts. It will provide direct links to each post listed below. Links will be added as posts are made available. PRE-PRODUCTION CONCEPT COMPOSITION - PART 1 COMPOSITION - PART 2 COMPOSITION - PART 3 PRODUCTION TOOLS DRAWING & PAINTING COLOR - PART 1 COLOR - PART 2 BRUSHES POST-PRODUCTION PRINTING PRESENTATION
For me, making a piece of art is like writing. Before anything else, I ask myself what it is going to be about. In this instance, I knew I wanted it tied to the season of spring. A recent conversation with a cousin involved my grandmother and spring robins. So I also wanted robins involved. I have memories of visiting my grandparents on the farm. In spring, the crabapple trees were lush with pink blossoms. Too soon did the pink petals fall from the trees. But during that brief window of time, the blossoms filled blue skies like fairies dancing on the wind. Pink blossoms. Blue skies. Robin Red-Breast. I started to see my composition. Next week, I'll talk about the actual process involved in making this piece.