Foreshortening Tree Limbs

foreshortening tree limbs

Foreshortening Tree Limbs

Foreshortening Tree Limbs Notes

Foreshortening Tree Limbs - image  on https://lindablondheim.com
Foreshortening of trees is very important if you wish to portray them realistically. The winter in Florida is the best time to practice foreshortening  drawings of  limbs. Observation of bare trees and their structures is the best way to learn this skill. The biggest problem many of my students have, is their difficulty of foreshortening limbs on trees or even canopies. There is a tendency for painters to think of trees as two dimensional, and flat.

Foreshortening Tree Limbs

One of the mistakes I often see is the tendency to use limbs side to side perfectly balanced rather than in the organic random patterns they really grow. My observation has shown that limbs that grow away from my view tend to be a bit grayer and softer than those growing toward me. I do admit that I push that atmospheric quality with artistic license but that is my due as the painter.

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I think the easiest thing to do is to spend time with pencil and paper out in the yard. That is how I study them after doing a fair amount of observation. I have used a marker to outline the shapes I made originally, just so you can see clearly. I usually just use pencil. Depending on my position in looking at trees, either straight on, below the limbs or above them, the foreshortened limbs will often be darker on the bottom of the limb. Of course, other limbs will be throwing cast shadows around on other limbs as well.

Foreshortening Tree Limbs

The space between two ends of an image is shortened any time the image’s length is other than parallel to my eyes. So if my limb is offset from parallel, I will be unable to see parts of it. The problem with foreshortening comes when we have a preconceived notion of what things look like, rather than relying on real observation. We know the limb is long though we can only see the front part of it, depending on our perspective. So how much the limb is foreshortened depends upon the position of it’s connection to the trunk and the tip to our eyes. Is the limb higher than our eyes, or lower?  For example, if you are looking at an animal’s body at a three quarter angle, turned away from you the rump is going to be bigger than the front of the body, due to linear perspective. It works that way with limbs too.

Foreshortening Tree Limbs

I often notice palm tree paintings that show no foreshortening of the fronds, making the fronds look like they all come from a central pinwheel with frond stems all of the same length.  They should be foreshortened as they come closest to the viewer. This frequently happens in a variety of tree paintings, making trunks and canopies look like icons or symbols of trees, not three dimensional.

Foreshortening Tree Limbs

As in other skills, practice helps a lot. Don’t always try to make start to finish paintings. Spend time sketching or doing studies of parts and pieces of the subjects you paint. Learn the characteristics of species of trees,and those who live in your area. They are not generic. Make field notes as you are out walking. As you drive along in the car think about how trees appear from the top down. Stand directly under them and look up. All of this observation is not only fun, but useful as well.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…..

Linda’s News

Save the date for my annual Chili Party, February 9, 2019. 11 AM – 4PM at my Country Studio.This party will feature well known Florida author Lucy Tobias.

Today’s Recipe

Corned Beef Pate’

1 can corned beef

1 package onion soup mix

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup mayo

1 T pickle relish

1 T brown mustard

dash of pepper and salt

Mix together and serve with rye crackers and dill chips.

Intervals Improve

Intervals improveIntervals Improve

Intervals Improve Notes

One of the corrections I often have to make in my own paintings is to clearly separate intervals or spaces between planes and objects. This is something I all too often forget to consider and it is a sometimes difficult task, when a composition is tight with many elements.

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One solution is to vary the heights and lengths of objects like tree canopies, trunks, mountains,groups of objects, and man made objects. This allows the viewer to proceed through the composition without hitting stopping points and getting bogged down or bored.

Intervals Improve

Another way to create intervals is with color changes within groups of objects. I do this a lot with atmospherics in tree lines. I love atmospherics and push them a lot in my work. This is an easy way to create the illusion of depth.

Don’t forget that color temperature changes can create a separation between objects quite nicely too. It’s not always about changes in value or placement of objects to give the illusion of intervals. A shift in color temperature can work just as well. Placing a cool green tree next to a warm green tree, slightly overlapping the canopy on the warm over the cool is an example of how to improve intervals in a subtle way.

Intervals Improve

Values can certainly create intervals, pushing and pulling objects back and forth in the picture plane.

Intervals are an often overlooked important part of design in a painting. I think we have a tendency to line things up like little soldiers. Even rows of trees can be adjusted slightly to improve interest from the viewer.

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Intervals Improve

Patterns in grasses are a very easy way to create minor intervals in composing. Using varying greens or dried grass colors with subtle value changes create instant intervals in your compositions. Intervals encourage viewers to move between sections and elements of paintings, moving them around through the painting without leaving it too soon. The longer the viewer stays with the painting, the more intrigued they will be by the work.

More musings for artists and collectors to come.

Today’s Recipe:

Southern Belle Salad

I remember this from my childhood.

1 cup pitted sweet cherries
1 package cherry gelatin
1 cup Coke
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Drain cherry juice. Bring 3/4 of the juice to boil. Add gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Stir in Coke and lemon juice. Chill until slightly firm. Cut cream cheese into small pieces. Fold cheese,nuts and cherries into the gelatin mixture. Chill until firm and serve cold.

Best Way Artist

compromise

 best way artist

Best Way Artist Notes

I figure if I can live for the next 20 years in decent health, I will produce my best work. Selfishly, I want to devote most of my time to painting for myself and selling, not teaching for a living. I have found the perfect balance between teaching and painting. I teach one day a month, and one or two one day workshops a year. it is just enough teaching to be fun and interesting for me and hopefully my students.

best way artist

If I can settle down and spend enough studio time, I believe my work is beginning to advance to a new plateau. I have worked hard and learned much about painting in the last few years. I believe the hard work is paying off. There is still art money out there. What I have to do is  keep the good marketing going even when times are better, especially then. I don’t want to get complacent or lazy. My collectors are too important to be let down.

best way artist

Here are some things I believe we all should make as the best way to be an artist in our career.

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Be an ethical and supportive artist

Help the people coming up behind you. Be an example for them in your own career. Consider it a responsibility to offer the best of yourself as a decent and ethical person in your business. Others are watching you. Be an inspiration for them. Will you always be nice and wonderful? Hell no!!

best way artist

I can be a perfect, sarcastic ass when I feel like it! This is not Disney World, it’s the real world. The point is that we all have a brand new day to improve ourselves. Be smart enough to forget your bad days striving to be as good and thoughtfully kind as you can be,whenever you are able to. Be the role model you should be as often as you can. None of us are on top of our game all the time.

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Be fair and ethical as a business person. Stand behind your work and what you offer a hundred percent. Take pride in the paintings you do and never feel ashamed that you are not the best painter out there. My pride is that I wake up every day, and do the best work I am capable of at any given stage of my career. Do I do better work than I did ten years ago? Of course. Should I be ashamed of the paintings I did ten years ago? Absolutely not! I am proud of that 10 year old painting, or 20 year old painting. I did my very best to do it well. Why would I be ashamed of it?

Make Good Art

As I have said many times on this blog, there is no substitute for good easel time. I’m talking about study time,and serious painting time in studio. All of the books, lessons, and workshops in the world, will do you no good if you do not put in the necessary time at the easel. Study=painting. Work, work,work, and then work some more if you want to be a good painter. Don’t be afraid to make bad paintings. Bad paintings help you figure out stuff that is too hard for you. Go after the hard things. Make the bad paintings and figure out why they are bad. Correct one mistake at a time. Don’t just keep making bad paintings. Stop and figure out what to try next. If you don’t know, ask for help. Study with someone who is good at showing you. Get professional critiques for your work. That is a great investment. Whatever you do, keep painting. I do about 350-400 paintings a year. Many are studies or not good. Doing that much painting will teach you to paint!!!

best way artist

Stay Away from Poisonous People

There are artists who thrive by running down other artists and making them feel bad about their work. They are very good at this. There will be people in your social circle, your family and the art community who are a constant drain on your energy and who make you doubt yourself as a painter. There will be people who question your right to be a painter, heaping guilt on top of you for the money you spend on art materials, and the time you spend away from them. Then there is the constant bad news on TV, sexual depravity and generally low quality programming on TV.

Successful, happy people do not hang around with this attitude. Successful people are positive and motivated to greatness in their lives, They simply avoid negativity as much as possible, in both their social and personal lives and what they choose to spend their time doing.

If the people you are associating yourself with make you feel bad about your art, disengage from them. You might say, “I have no choice, they are my best friends or family”. My solution is to set boundaries during your time with them. Tell them that discussion about your art and business is off limits. If they break that rule, get up and leave. It won’t take long for them to figure out that the subject is closed.

best way artist

Keep your life positive and get up each day, excited by the love of painting and you will succeed. The last thought I have each night before sleep is that I will succeed.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Beer Cheese Spread

1/4 cup beer
2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 8 0z cream cheese
1 tsp W sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 crushed clove garlic
dash hot sauce

Mix it all up

Serve in a bowl with crackers

Abstract Beginnings

abstract beginnings

Abstract Beginnings

Abstract Beginnings Notes

All paintings have abstract beginnings in my view. From the abstract expressionism so popular again now to the very refined of realism, it is all starts with the abstract. Some are starts, which I enjoy and some are block ins that all painters begin with. I’ve been studying this process for a long time. I am a mass painter in that I see objects in large masses of value and shapes. I tend away for linear form except for fine tree limbs and final details of a painting. It is that gradual transition from the abstract to the refinement that separates a lot of styles. That is the intrigue for me. I’ve never really had any interest in being a true abstract painter. I like the natural world too much to abandon it for vague shapes and colors, though I completely respect those who paint that way.

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Abstract Beginnings

My study method is a beginning in abstract shapes values and colors, moving along in that vein until the end is near. I like to add refinement where I want the attention of the viewer to rest for a moment. My goal is a transition around the painting between abstraction to semi-abstraction and to fine detail where it is warranted. I like clean paint and mud where it is intentional, not by poor brushwork. Perhaps that is why my love affair with alla prima has faded. I don’t like sloppy brushwork whether it is refined or of a loose quality.

Abstract beginnings

It is more of a mindset in the process than any major process changes. In other words, my mental approach to the method is different. I start with the idea of doing a painting, using spare information. Just enough to tell the story and make it viable for my studies. The larger painting is approached in the same way, but varying amounts of detail or refinement are added as needed to produce a finished work. Using this method is making me more accountable for my detail additions. I have to think about what is really necessary, rather than moving forward with detail in an unmeasured way.  I like this process very much. Further study is needed of course, this is just a different method of painting. Shaking up the old dog with some new ideas is always a good idea. I would never want to be a rote or complacent painter. I never want to learn everything. I want the quest for excellence to go on as long as I can hold a brush.

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Abstract beginnings

It is important that painters understand that they may never be a master painter. I never will but it does not deter  or depress me.There will always be painters who can out paint me all day long. I think painters spend too much time thinking about their pecking order or who is better, or who they are better than. The art world has become too much about contests and position. Really! Who cares who is better? No one paints like me and I can live with that. I don’t have to be the best or even good. As long as I have a desire to learn my craft and as long as folks like my work and buy it, I am successful. I am doing what I adore with my life, meeting splendid people who believe in me and my work. I don’t think prestige is all that important. I have a big resume but I haven’t been asked for it in years. Our work is our name. Standing in front of that easel and working at it every day is what counts. As long as I am improving and working hard, I am a success!

These experiments with abstract beginnings are sometimes successful and sometimes not. I have a burn pile on my land a few steps from the studio. Lots of canvases go on it as I progress through various experiments and techniques. Some turn out good, luckily. There is a lot about our world that is from abstract to refined, and all in between. I’ll keep working at it.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Salsa

2 large avocado s, chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked fresh corn kernel s
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion s
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup  Italian Dressing
Combine gently and serve with chips

Start Some Starts

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Start Some Starts Notes

Lately I’ve been thinking about doing some start paintings again. A start is much more complex than a block-in. I travel quite a bit and have opportunities for short spurts of painting time. I might have half an hour somewhere or an hour to paint in a beautiful place. There is a sense of urgency about my timing. I used to rush through these painting times, trying to get as much of the painting completed as possible, from start to finish. These paintings were frankly very rough and unrefined, lacking in my opinion. Only a study. I wanted to find a way to do good work of these beautiful locations rather than rough studies.

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I finally came up with the idea of doing partial paintings and saving them until I get home to complete in the studio. This method takes all of the stress away and allows me to proceed through the painting experience with a critical discerning eye.

I think I will do some start paintings on Deer Woods Trail, now that the climate is cooler.

Start some starts

My system for start paintings includes basic information of composition,value structure and local color application. That is really all I need to complete the painting at a later time in studio. To me this is the best marriage of plein air and studio painting.

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To supplement this basic painting I will add some notes which include tube colors I need to use for the painting, value notes, lighting for the scene, including time of day, angle and direction of light, and any interesting atmospheric conditions. If I have a camera with me, I will shoot a few reference photos as well, but the notes and palette information are even more useful.

Start some starts

I don’t worry overmuch about putting any detail in my starts. They are completed only far along enough to give me the information I need back in the studio.

There are many advantages to this system and I often use starts even on my own land.  You can complete many more good paintings, You will have better paintings because you are not rushing through the painting process and will be able to do larger format work successfully, rather than tiny studies.

Unless you are just obsessed about working alla prima plein air, this is a very useful system.

Start some starts

It will also work very well for students who are coming to studio classes for a critique with your teacher. My students sometimes bring in  photos they paint from with their starts. We are able to look at the paintings and the reference photos, correcting composition and values, etc. before they continue with the paintings. This is a wonderful way to engage them in the process. I sometimes  ask them which paintings they think are most successful and which Are not? After they choose, we go through the process of analysis to determine how and why?

 

Today’s Recipe:

1 cantaloupe peeled seeded and diced
1 small pineapple pealed and diced
1 sweet red pepper seeded and diced
1 small onion dice
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Hot sauce to taste
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix it all up and serve with chips. Yummy!!!