Color Theory Lesson of the Day


Portrait of a Student
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10.5×7″ 


I spent an evening a week before Christmas with a group I anticipate will be my new art community once I move to my northern home. The model is a student of the local art school. She was wearing my favorite color, turquoise. She completed, literally, the color combination by wearing a rusty-orange colored scarf. The complementary colors of this makes the piece.
Complementary colors are colors which have the most extreme contrast in temperature and value. Each color in the complementary pair make the other appear to be more intense. The word complementary (spelled with two Es) indicates a completion, not praise as in the word compliment. To have a complementarycolor pair one must have all three primaries present in the form of one secondary color (i.e green, orange, or, violet) and one primary color. Whatever two primary colors are present in the secondary color, it must be completed by a third primary color which completes the primary triad.

Complementary pairs are as follows:
Green (yellow and blue) + Red
Orange(yellow and red) + Blue
Violet (red and blue) + Yellow

On a color wheel the complementary pairs are directly opposite each other. It’s much easier to figure out what combinations are complements by thinking of the composition of the secondary colors and their completing primary colors, than by visualizing a color wheel in your mind’s eye. This watercolor actually has a split complementary color scheme. A split complement is comprised of colors, close to, but on either side of the colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel.

T F m
December 29, 2012

A No Hovering Drawing

Clothed Model in the Classroom
Graphite on Paper, 5×8.5″

This drawing was done in the class room while my students were working. I decided to keep the model clothed because students need to be able to draw people with clothes as well as without clothes. One usually does not encounter people who just happen to be naked during the course of one’s day. It also gives a rationale for practicing drawing fabric.
That, along with hands and feet, can be challenging to draw. Beginners often avoid drawing them because they are terrified of them. I address these fears head on and very early in the semester. They must draw hands and feet and the context in which the model resides including fabric. It’s like throwing someone into the deep end of the swimming pool to teach swimming. But, no one is in danger of drowning. And no one goes without instruction.
Actually, Ican’t teach anyone how to draw. I can only offer advice on an approach that might be helpful or offer advice on an approach that is not. I do that based I upon my own experience. I offer my own discoveries and let each student determine what works best for her or him.
Observational drawing is a skill set. It is a practice in seeing and a practice in applying shapes, areas of tone, and marks in such an arrangement as to create the illusion of space on a flat surface. And in the end, each drawing is only a bit of charcoal on a piece of paper. Each of us have an infinite number of drawings in us. There is no such thing as a failed drawing or failed painting. There is only a learning experience. The learning factor is tied to how well we pay attention and how well we apply the newly acquired knowledge. That’s wisdom.

T F m
December 21, 2012

Teach Life Drawing. Don’t Hover


Comfy Chair in the Classroom
Watercolor on Rag Paper, 10×7″


This watercolor was done last week to avoid hovering. As the teacher of drawing classes the issue of hovering over students is one of the things on my mind. How much do I need to scrutinize what students are doing? There is a fine line between being helpful and just being a pain in the ass. It can be very unnerving to have the person who will be judging your work standing over your shoulder watching what you are doing. I had that as an undergrad and was chided for admitting I felt uncomfortable with it. 

Years later a group of my classmates went down to see our instructors from that period and let those guys know in no uncertain terms that they were jerks. And they were. They guilt tripped us for all kinds of things that, in retrospect, were totally manipulative mind games.

I have all my experiences as a student to draw from in my teaching. I think of the things that I felt taught me a lot and apply them. The things that were damaging to my efforts I avoid. There is also self-teaching to draw upon. Certain discoveries while in practice can also be applied to the classroom environment. Hovering, however, is one those things to avoid.
I am very antsy when trying to avoid hovering so sometimes I draw or watercolor paint while in class to keep me out of their hair. Sometime those things are not possible so I go and check my mailbox in the faculty office or surf the internet for some good examples of work that will illustrate concepts for class. I’m always looking for examples.

I do get comments on student evaluations that I am either too stingy or too forthcoming with advice. It’s a delicate balancing act and I am always off balance.

T F m
December 7, 2012