Friday, September 4, 2009


For some of my students, this will be a first assignment to deal with some elements of design, primarily positive and negative space.

1) The little pen sketch was done near my wood pile. I was looking at how the tree shapes also create shapes in the background. A good design must account for this balancing of shapes. The background shapes should always be considered. Students will be asked to produce a whole sheet of these thumbnail sketches, assess which ones might seem more successful, and then use the best ones for the basis of 3 painted works.

2) The paintings won't be overly large. Map all the shapes firmly with pencil, watching that you are aiming for a pleasing balance between positive and negative shapes. We will be in the small forest by the studio so it is important to base your designs on observation. It is quite thrilling when you are able to see your own observations about the world reflected in your artwork.

3) Count the colours. How many are there.....maybe 5 plus black India Ink line? Develop a colour scheme that has some range of light/dark, warm/cool, bright/grey and mix 5 acrylic colours for your composition....simply FILL in the colours. You are learning something about colour theory, and you are learning that the business of painting is, on a simple level, really about moving paint from one place to another. Move your paint with pleasure and effectiveness. Learn to do it easily. Be able to paint a sharp edge easily by mixing with appropriate amounts of water. Hold your brush in different manners to see how all this affects the way paint moves on the surface. WATCH the paint like a cat watches a mouse!

4) Work quickly so that you come to see yourself as effective....progress comes easily...this does not need to be a big struggle.

5) For our purposes here, mix all colours and watch that you are also looking at opacity so that the paint covers reasonably well. Avoid too much transparency.....mixing is required. Some pure colours will be too transparent without mixing.


  1. I posted several of your works today in a post titled, "Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall...
    Your work is lovely.

  2. Thanks, pve! I loved seeing how you put them to use....very evocative.