Thursday, January 11, 2007

Painter IX again

At last things are coming together. I’ve found a simple way of working with Painter IX that I can get on with. This involves working with layers and devising a plan for what each will contain. The first layer is always the canvas and for the moment for me that is always ‘sandy pastel paper.’

The next layer contains the drawing. Until today this has been a scanned drawing from my sketchbook. The drawback with this is that the sketch has to be cropped and resized in Photopaint first to fit the canvas. Today though I made the drawing by working directly with the stylus on an Intuos 3 tablet. This is how I would normally work on a real canvas, corrections can be made just as easily but the big advantage is that the sketch layer is preserved in the saved file and can always be referred to. In a real painting it is lost.

A new layer is opened for the lay-in where the main features are blocked in. This is followed by a defining layer where the drawing is firmed up and tonal adjustments are made. Finally come a detail layer for the final touches.

For the moment I’m following this simple strategy with a range of Pastels Brush tools. These tools respond to stylus pressure which comes easily with the way I draw. There is some stunning digital art produced by artists with Painter IX who manipulate photographs and graphic art work using cloning techniques. The range and scope of digital art is amazing.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Going Digital

I'm resolved to gain some competence with Painter IX this year. I’ve tinkered about with it and found it a difficult piece of software because of its complexity. I suppose the danger is that you read abouits different features and try out everything at once.

So it’s back to basics. The pastel, conte and grainy pencil brushes seem to suit my style best and they’re the tools I’m most at ease with. So I’ve decided to confine myself to using those.

Then there’s the problem of getting started. I’ve not been too successful with using cloned photographs so at the moment I’m using scans of sketches as a starting point. ‘Keep things simple’ is my motto as far as digital painting goes. Here’s a sample:-

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Thank You Prof. Gombrich

‘There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.’ These are a surprising couple of opening sentences for a book about the ‘The Story of Art.’ Back in December I read reviews of Ernst Gombrich’s best seller which Phaidon have reprinted as a pocket edition. The reviews prompted me to take a fresh look at my own copy – a weighty paperback which is a reprint of the 16th edition of 1995. Like many other students my first acquaintance with the book was via a college library copy and I immediately took to the direct plain language of his writing.

I’ve always discovered new insights from Gombrich. Even after having ‘The Story of Art’ on my bookshelf for around ten years I was taken by his comments on Raphael’s sketch books in the introduction. The sketchbook drawings were Raphael’s studies for his ‘Virgin in the Meadows’ of 1505 now in Vienna. It’s regarded as the most charming of Raphael’s ‘Madonna’ paintings and the pages of pen and ink sketches reveal the trouble he took to get the group of three figures into a harmonious relationship.

Few of us take similar pains or are inclined to give much thought to composition today. Painting manuals gloss over the problems in demonstrations – giving descriptions of each stage but little about the thought processes needed to compose the painting in the first place. When sketching ‘en plein air’ all too frequently I take the subject as presented and often have to make major changes in the studio. The Professor's words and Raphael's sketches prompt me change my ways!