Surrealism is an art movement of the early twentieth century that has continued unabated in popularity to this day. Route 1 Ellisville ismy nod to Surrealism.
Like Erthling in the previous post, Route 1 Ellisville is a form of altered art in which photos are transformed to create a new work. This one has three photos – the house, the sun disc and the car. Drawn lines radiate out from the sun to create rays and a road that unify the composition and provide an imaginary setting for the house and car. I filled in the rays and the road, extended the building, and added cast shadows to the ground with colored pencils. I also used colored pencils to alter the colors in the sun and add shadows and highlights to the car and the house. This helped to integrate the objects more fully with the background. Finally, I used white paint to add the stripes on the road and the vanity tag on the car.
This is another sketch-book prompt that can yield endless ideas. The process is similar to the add-on drawing except that you work from photos instead of taking subject matter from your surroundings. Just collect a bunch of interesting pictures out of old magazines and put them in a folder to take along with your sketch book. Here’s the process for creating a composite:
Choose a photo from the folder and draw something from it anywhere on the sketchbook page. (Feel free to leave out details you don’t want.)
Choose another photo and add that into your drawing.
Keep adding things until you fill your space.
Let some things touch or overlap.
Finish with color, pattern or shading. Or leave it as it is.
The objects you compile into a drawing may or may not be related subject matter. In my composite above, I was using mostly landscape elements when I got the idea to turn the drawing into a Tower of Babel scene. To do that, I needed to get rid of some Grand Canyon rock formations I’d drawn in the background. Since I was working in pen, I couldn’t erase them, so I used a craft knife to cut them out and wound up cutting out the whole sky as well. (It was really hard cutting around all those tiny branches!) I replaced the sky by gluing the drawing onto a colorful watercolor wash. (It was very difficult to glue down all those tiny branches!) Then I colored the river to reflect the sky and create a unified effect. Finally, I added the kitty in the lower left corner as a nod to my cat loving friends.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Babel, here’s a good article about it.
The painting above is my fourth painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson introduces simple gradations – specifically, gradation of value created by blending different colors of paint together on the canvas while the colors are still wet.
Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Changes in value are created by adding white or black to the pure hue ( color). Gradation of value, (also called blending or shading) is used to create different effects in an artwork. For example, it can make an object look three dimensional.
The purpose of gradation in this lesson is to create a sense of spatial depth. In this case it makes the beach look close and the horizon look far away. Having the blue get darker also conveys a sense that the water gets deeper as you go farther from the shore.
The book gives a good explanation about the problems and solutions associated with blending in a medium like acrylic that dries quickly. As you can see from the example above, my transitions are not perfectly smooth. The importance of smooth gradation depends on your subject and the level of realism you want to achieve. For example, if I were trying to accurately depict the surface of a rounded object like a china cup or an egg, the transition from light to dark would need to be more even than what I have achieved here.
Below is my own version of Deep Blue Sea in which I’ve tried to exercise some personal creativity. (See note on creativity in the prior post) Sometimes you only need to make a few changes in order to make something your own. In this example, I just changed the shape of the shoreline and added some little details.
I liked this subject well enough to use up the leftover paint on the smaller versions below.
Before talking about the lesson, I want to point out my caption below the top picture. In each post the top painting will my copy of the author’s model in each lesson. It’s painted accurately as possible according his directions with no embellishments on my part. Because of potential copyright issues I can’t post his model painting, so unless you actually have a copy of the book, you’ll have to take it on faith that this looks just like the demonstration model.
Also, as I mentioned in my first post, the author of the book did not publish his own resource photos – if indeed he used any. The reason for that is clear in this painting: if he had inserted a photo of a real pasture like the one below, his beginning painter would have gotten carried away with trying to depict all that visual texture (foliage and grass) realistically. By eliminating those details and simplifying the outlines of the shapes, he allows the beginning artist to focus only on the intended process – mixing believable earth colors.
So in keeping with that objective, I did my own version of the pasture scene using the Smoky Mountain vacation photo above as a model, but reducing it to basic outlines. I also used the same color palette demonstrated in the lesson, but changed the format to a rectangle.
I didn’t do any extra little paintings of this one, however, because I didn’t like it very much. It’s kind of plain. Later on, however, I probably will do a more detailed version of that beautiful Smoky Mountain pasture.
A note about creativity: The author’s intent in Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings is ( in my opinion) to help hobby painters develop some skills and make some little paintings to hang on their wall. There is, however, no mention of creativity in the titles, glossary, or index. However, the person who wishes to take up painting as a serious hobby should be concerned about creativity. That is why I’m doing my own version of each of these paintings. I’ll be bringing up the subject of creativity in later posts.