Thursday, October 29, 2015

Intermediate Watercolor Homework 10/28/15 The Easy way

There's a long-term benefit to finding the easiest way to translate a scene into the language of watercolor. When you start looking for the most efficient route, you end up devising solutions and strategies that display a real economy of means. 'Easy' somehow turns into 'Magical".
The appeal of a very simple interpretation comes from the role the viewer plays in recognizing what he or she is seeing. When the artist presents just the essentials, the viewer supplies all the details.

John Singer Sargent describes the important aspects of the laundry very efficiently. He knew he wanted to show us the drape of the linens, - the weight of them, and how they hang - and he clearly intended to depict the bright sunlight. Once those essential aspects were present, he stopped describing the subject. 

Surely there was more information available, but Sargent knew that this simplification of the light and shadow told the story well enough. By no means has he told us everything he could see. He has treated the collection of linens as a single shape, for example, even though here was plenty of evidence that the individual items were separate from each other. The feeling that the sheets look "real " actually comes from our surprise at learning that this was all we needed to be shown. We - the viewers - are participants in the interpretation. Sargent provides what he sees as the essentials. Anything else, we  project.

The job of deciding what is essential and what is optional is not necessarily all about the "true nature" of the subject. It has more to do with being very clear about what you want to say. One artist's essence will probably not match another's. To choose which elements of your subject you want to display, you need to check your own feelings. The answer, as the cartoon guru says, lies within.

What do you think Edward Hopper wanted to communicate about the cars or the rocks? Was there more he might have added?

If you were getting ready to paint this scene, what would you want to be sure came through? Pick just a couple of aspects. 

How about this courtyard view? What seems essential to you?

Once you have fulfilled your intentions, the rest of the information you see can be left out. Just because you can see it doesn't mean it has to be in the picture! For example, if you wanted to communicate a feeling of serenity in your painting of the courtyard, it probably would not be necessary to make sure the viewer could tell what kind of plants are in the pots.

Before you begin painting, ask yourself if your intentions are clear.

If you use one of your own pictures, please bring the original in for the critique.

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