Friday, April 27, 2012

Order From Chaos

A Day in the Life Sketchbook project 2011 page 26  G-2 pen

I realized that I had forgotten to post the last few pages of my sketchbook project for Art House Co-op from 2011- A Day in the Life -In Blue Jeans with Gold Embroidery.    One thing that came to be clear during the writing/illustrating of that project was that as in painting I found myself wrestling with wrapping up the narrative  - ending that neither stops short of a resolution or overdone :)  Eventually I followed  Frank Herbert's advice : “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”  

A Day in the Life Sketchbook project 2011 page 27  color pencils & G-2 pen

I hope to make a page in this blog for  the book so it can be read from front to back. Now clicking on this link gives all the posts on the sketchbook that I have posted - from most recent to the oldest making you read it backwards :) - unless you go the oldest post first and scroll up! Meanwhile, let me know what you think of my project - the illustrations, the writings.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Miracle of Life

digital photography by Meera Rao 

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
– Buddha

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Textured Variations

textures and colors by Meera Rao

The last day of the "Variations" workshop was all about textures. We saw the possibilities with Myrna Wacknov's collection reference photos, her paintings, and use of gesso, stencils, stamps, patterns, tissue for collage, etc and  unlimited imagination :) The day's task was to bring color, texture, value and other design elements together. 

After the van Gogh like textures of my day 3 painting, I decided to tone down go for subtler texture :) and I like my final piece. 

gesso covering old painting

After watching the demo about applying stencils, tissues, and stamping, I proceeded to gesso -not too thickly or carefully- a painting I didn't care for. Applying the textures subtly with stamps and even fingers, and lifting some color with the stencils, I prepared the paper.  When the paper was dry I knew where and how I wanted my drawing to go. It did not really take much time to paint after that and I had to be especially be wary of not overworking it since it was so much fun to paint on the gesso prepped textured paper! Rest of the day I played with experimenting with preparing  paper in all different ways. 

Here is the photo with all my paintings of the week together:

variations by Meera Rao

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Color Harmony and Variations

Color Harmony exercise  by Meera Rao

Using Faber-Birren color triangle, we explored color harmony on day 4 of the 'Variations' workshop with Myrna Wacknov.  The roll of dice said my combination for color harmony was Tint-Tone-Shade-Grey and to use intermediate hues.

I mixed the tints, shades, tone and grays for the two colors on  cards as reference as I painted the figure combining a shape drawing, value pattern and used the colors to create  mood.  This was the hardest exercise for me but well worth the effort. Once I had the colors down on the cards, the painting went very smoothly. Best part of the day was to see all the combinations and how they worked out in everyone's paintings during the critique session.

Fifteen years ago I had done a similar exercise with one color only in a Doug Walton workshop (only other workshop I have attended!) and suddenly color harmony theory became much clearer - I guess nothing like accumulating years of experience for an ah-ha moment!!! It also became clear to me that there is great value in methodically trying the color harmony combinations to get a better grasp of all the possibilities  and the mood they create.

Do you have tested and true color theory that you use? Do you use color wheels when you paint? I would love to know how you go about choosing colors and mood.  Or are you a 'fly by the seat of my pants artist' as I seem to be most of the time!!!! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lines Coloring Variations

Day 3 Line and color by Meera Rao

Day 3 of Myrna Wacknov's workshop 'Variations' focused on line and texture as line.  She did a demo of texturizing paper by gesso-ing not up-to par painting : gesso alone, gesso on stencil, gesso a with  roller, smoothing out with credit card, stamping on gesso, laying wax paper, plastic wrap etc for texture.  She explained that when the gesso is dry, she makes her drawing on the textured paper with any of the various tools - droppers with ink, sticks, clay tool, wide markers, tree sticks, bamboo pens and anything else that will make a line :) 

The limitations and constraints from roll of dice on day 3 gave me split complement colors Red/yellowgreen/bluegreen and color as the second design element with line as the  dominant feature. 

An accidental discovery on my part as to how color from my old painting that I was covering up with gesso showed up when I tried to use a stencil on too thin, too wet gesso led me to use a wooden coffee stick to gouge out the still wet gesso to sketch freehand my drawing -- I am very pleased how drawing like that satisfied the requirements of line, color and texture. I used a delicate/fine stamp on the bandana area. The painting I had chosen to gesso over by chance had the colors I had rolled and I loved how they showed through.  I did minimal painting with yellow green, blue green on the background and red on the bandana. I used Blue and red also for value and that intensified the color showing thru. Gesso also enabled me to wipe off paint when I did not like my choices.  It was uncanny how colors from the old waterscape painting underneath worked for  this particular portrait variation! 

closeup of line, color and texture 

The whole process was so much fun that I had to force myself to stop :)  I continued the fun by texturing two or three more papers and can't wait to paint on them. I also loved how Myrna used red gesso in one of her demos to sketch her drawing. Sketching the variations and plotting the values numerous times definitely made me familiar with the subject and gave me easy spontaneity when it came to painting.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creative Variations

Day 1: plotting shapes and values

Cyber follower to real time with artist Myrna Wacknov - I am back from a wonderful week of Myrna Wacknov's workshop "Variations" :)  It was really special to finally meet her after following her blog, admiring her creativity for a few years now! I was immersed in five days of fast paced exploration of creative interpretations of the portrait. Everyone worked with the same instructor provided black and white image and it was amazing to see the 'variations' at the end of each day as each participant chose different design elements to emphasize and brought her own talents, interpretations and style to Myra's instructions, prompts and guidance.

Day-1 was spent designing the shapes of the image with a modified contour drawings, creating a uniform grid for original image and then creating distored grids to reshape the image.We simplified  lines and connected shapes. We then experimented with various value patterns.   At the end of the day we each had atleast one sketch to work on day2 with shape+one other element (roll of dice) and another to work with value+a different design element. She also had 24 combinations of color chords on index cards and luck of the draw determined what colors we would be using. The color chords had Analogous, compliments, triads, spilt compliments to choose from. The seven elements (line, size, shape, direction, color, value and texture), decisons about dominance, relationships (unity, harmony, dominance, contrast, repition, variation, gradation, and balance) was to create a mood for the paintings.

Day 2 AM: Shape+texture

Day 2 AM : Shape:  The roll of dice resulted in texture being the second element for my exercise. The colors in my card were split compliments yellowgreen, red and violet. The textures were a lot of fun to paint - I  sprayed  alcohol, used oil pastels, stencils with paint and some gesso, some colored pencils to create the various textures.

Day2 PM: Value+lines

Day 2 PM : Value:  This time roll of dice for secondary element gave me lines along with complimentary colors yellow and violet. I sketched with masking fluid and incorporated the saved white lines into the design element. I used various yellows and violets to bring out the values in the painting. I had a piece of netting from a potato sack that I dabbed paint over to bring lines in the background. Splattering white liquid acrylic paint with tooth brush gave a cool look for the sunglasses.

Myrna is a treasure trove of ideas. She freely shared her collection of samples,  her paintings, clippings and tips with us throughout the week.  I loved her critiques of all the paintings.  The other participants were all accomplished painters from Potomac Watercolor society and it was a treat to watch them in action.  Myrna Wacknov has posted her demos in her blog . Watch for more postings in my blog and hers.
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