Color and Landscape

Clearly, every artist uses different colors and organizes them differently, for different purposes and different effects.

The surprising range of a limited palette shows in mixing from Anders Zorn’s:

In careful analysis, the Zorn palette may not have been used in all of his works:


Here is a summary of color theory:

In considering the effect of color, few can compare to the colorist Wolf Kahn:

Richard Mayhew, an international and local artist paints trees with intense color:

A local and internationally known artist, has a special affinity for color and trees to create visual poetry.  In the second video, he discusses his process as he paints.





Landscape painting: context and content

For a context about landscape painting, the Tate Museum has created a great resource:

Here is a contemporary and excellent discussion about studio landscapes and plein air landscapes.   Since this won’t work as a link, put the address into your browser.

Van Gogh’s work is an excellent model for thinking about drawing, painting, and meaning from the landscape. Katherine Tyrrell’s work in the “Trees Gallery”, as you scroll down, gives some good ideas for sylization of the landscape:

No one has paid tribute to Van Gogh’s landscapes in such a vivid and unique way as Akira Kurasawa in a segment of Dreams:


A prolific American artist, Charles Burchfield, provides  a variety of ways to interpret landscapes.  In the Burchfield Penney Museum site below are landsapes by him and his contemporaries.  As well, you can go to the work by him in their collection, including his journals.

And as the article below recounts, they are full of his naturalist philosophy, driven by personal biography:

In her  series, In The Garden, Jennifer Bartlett used artistic creativity to move beyond convention and to discover new elements, each time she approached the same subject:

And, you can find more of the works by a general search in images for jennifer bartlett in the garden series.





Art of the Everyday – Light, Form, Space -from perception to stylization

Perception is relative:

some explanations about the checker illusion

Drawing a sphere:

Note six degrees of light: light, highlight, shadow, core of the shadow, reflected light, cast shadow

Christopher Gallego


Artists:don’t ever do another painting

Antonio Lopez Garcia

Observe with sound off until 2:00 at least

start at 3:18 for his explanation of his creative process

words of wisdom from Garcia

(to note paragraph on Isabel Quintanilla and Antonio Lopez-Garcia)

Charles Ritchie

Look at Works and Sketchbooks, and more as desired.


Elizabeth Blackadder

search for Blackadder/ink

search for Blackadder/still life

search for Blackadder ink still life

Portraits: observational and photographic tools


Some basics about drawing features:

Drawings and portraits by Georges Seurat:’s-mother-madame-seurat-mere-french-about-1882-1883/

A speed drawing of a portrait, summing up drawing as a series of adjustments:


Here is an excellent glaze painting demo by Domenic Cretara, part 1-3 Look up all stages(-12) for the visuals and the advice as you work on your own. Since we are doing a monochromatic painting, we will not be glazing to full color as he does.  But, you may return to your painting in the future to do so.


And here is an article and some of his work from the Triton Museum show in Santa Clara:

Another monochrome portrait painting tutorial:

Another monochromatic approach:,paint-a-portrait-using-the-transparent-monochrome-oilpainting-technique_5284.htm

Rub-out technique:


Cartier-Bresson “Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.”

Cartier-Bresson, the famous photographer and one of the founders of Magnum Photos, associated with the “decisive moment” was passionate about drawing from life. But what about drawing or painting from photographs? Can it be a tool and still lead to a act of meditation, contemplation, reflection, and expression when the artist uses it as a starting point, a reference, and departs from it, ultimately? And doesn’t a photographic series lead us to the same place when it goes beyond the snapshot to become art?


A look at the painting of Queen Elizabeth by Lucien Freud:

a small painting on a big easel, like yours:

And the controversy it caused:

Or a comparison of 30 portraits of her:


Whether combining observation and the rub-out technique or considering the second portrait from your digital references you may want to consider what is called NOTAN, the Japanese sense of dark/light balance in a composition;

And here is a mural which relies on notan in the portrait:

Portraits by Catherine Kehoe:

Here’s a resource with a variety of contemporary, stylized, historical examples and tips on portraits:




Gaining Perspective

The following sites as well as the in-class demo will help to “gain perspective.”  And, nothing helps more than to practice and  play the “game” of perspective so that it can be internalized and become somewhat automatic as you translate your vision of 3 dimensional space to a flat picture plane.  Once you understand, you can use perspective naturally without thinking it through.  And, as you become fluent in the language of this tool, you can depart from it for intentional expressive effect.

First some history:


If you have never drawn before, this is a useful video to start to think about drawing anything. Start with the basic shapes….


A useful method in using “empirical perspective” (drawing what you see from your actual point of view and position while using perspective theory) is called “sighting”:

This video shows the careful process of observation and adjustment in the act of drawing from a subject.

This is a great resource for pairing perspective theory with artistic examples.

Here is a short video on two point perspective which you will be more likely to use in your drawing.

And for drawing slopes and tilting boxes (see p. 110 on):


Always, it is practice that will secure your understanding and allow you to draw gesturally with a confident sense of form and space.




Ideas about Drawing – starting points

Look up drawing definitions and you find that the common links between them:

Marks that make a picture or image, a plan, or diagram.  Marks that represent.

For our purposes in drawing and painting, it is intentional mark making, for visual communication that is technical, tactical,  culturally, or personally expressive on a tactile surface.  This is a working definition for thinking about drawing, how drawing leads to painting, and how drawing is used in painting.

It is related to the way dancers can in effect draw with their bodies. The idea of  claiming space and personal expression is key to dance and to gesture drawing.


Gesture, the way an artist captures and conveys form through motion and energetic markmaking, is a record of the artist’s visual and mental interaction with the subject in space.

Here is an inspired artist, Adebanji Alade, who uses drawing as foundation for painting and processing his experiences in the world.

Another artist, David Hockney,  master of many mediums (including film and digital media), still considers drawing one of his most important endeavors as an artist.

Here he is drawing, and painting, on his ipad.

Here are some wonderful Hockney quotes:

When you are older, you realise that everything else is just nothing compared to painting and drawing.

Drawing is rather like playing chess: your mind races ahead of the moves that you eventually make.

Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache.

Alberto Giacometti is another artist who has thought intensely about drawing.

Gesture is dependent upon the artist’s body language, mark making, and sense of perception. The summary of the James Lord’s account of sitting for a portrait by Giacommetti is an introduction to the artist’s ideas about perception and drawing.‘a-giacometti-portrait’-sitting-for-a-master/

Here is  video of his painting process – which is really drawing with a brush.




See Artstor 20 J – Gesture – for Giacometti images and Mondrian’s gesture drawings and his progression from realism to abstraction. (Regarding Modnrian, see below: Mondrian Master Drawings Smith College Museum of Art  – Choose Google Book and scroll to page 236 and read both indented quotes, especially the last, from Mondrian about his intentions, followed by another image of a Chrysanthemum on page 237.)


Here is a tutorial on gesture drawing. Gesture drawing will give you the opportunity to adapt and adjust your drawing as you become more attuned to your subject:


Introductory practices:

gesture and variable pressure contour points





Wanderers Above the Mist

I am passionate about “visual dialogues”, whether in paint, photography, or prints.  It carries the ideas forward and recontextualizes them, much the way writers, poets, musicians, and filmmakers do.  It makes the work richer and layered in meaning and no less original.  It is a creative conversation.

In 1818, German Romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich’s  painted “The Wanderer Above the Mist”, also known as “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”.

Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea

A well known analog photographer also paid tribute to this painting in a picture of a man with dog by the lake.  Was it John Szarkowski, author of The Photographer’s Eye  and Looking at Photographs?  Years ago I heard a talk about this and kept it in the back of my mind for this painting and future photographs. I hope I run across the photograph  so I can share it.  If not, maybe a photographer friend may know.

There are also connections made between Friederich and Chinese landscape painters. Is it coincidental or was Friedrich actually aware of the Chinese landscapes? Of course, there are big differences, which is part of recontextualizing even when the artist is consciously making connections.  James Elkins discusses the similarities between Friedrich’s Two Men in Contemplation of the Moon with a Southern Song painting by Ma Yuan as well as other East/West comparisons, starting on page 34 in the link below.

In this portrait of my husband and dog, I depicted him in his work clothes from the dog’s point of view, rather than in the fancy dress of Friedrich’s wanderer. That may be another painting some day.

Wanderers Above the Mist oil on canvas