Roger Dale Brown Workshop Day 3 and final reflections 

Roger began the final day of the workshop with a demo. He painted what we all felt was a boring reference photo, and turned it into an absolutely lovely painting.

It was really helpful to watch Roger start and finish a painting in one sitting as that brought full circle all that we had learned over the course of the workshop. Over and over he stressed that you focus on the major shapes because that helps to simplify the painting. After you identify the shapes, then you can start to look at the values and types of light within the shapes. We discussed what you focus on when you take the painting to completion. Roger says that the last 20% of the painting is orchestrating, pushing colors and values, and getting out of your safe place.

I worked again on the painting from the first day. I identified a few things that I didn’t like about it. For one, the light was isolated in the mass of sand and rocks. Second, the color on the building in the top left corner wasn’t ‘related’ to the color in the light mass. I fixed those two things and it really helped it along.  Here is the progression of this painting from the first day of the workshop:

The painting I started on Day 1 - still need to make the changes suggested by Roger.

The painting I started on Day 1 – still need to make the changes suggested by Roger.

Roger’s final suggestions were for me to break up the lines where the rocks meet the water in the bottom right corner and to work on the boat house in the top right corner. My value is off…needs to be a bit lighter. I would also like to add in some light behind the tree line to give the indication of a sun-lit field. I think that area is too dark.

 

I also did quite a bit more work on the painting I started on Day 2. Here’s a step-by-step progression:

My nearly finished painting. Roger suggested a few changes - more light holes and tree trunks, highlights on the cows and softer edges around the tops of the trees.

My nearly finished painting. Roger suggested a few changes – more light holes and tree trunks, highlights on the cows and softer edges around the tops of the trees.

One thing that I found to be really insightful is that Roger spends more time planning out his painting than actually painting. This is important so that you work out the intricacies of the composition, the values and colors before you begin painting. Roger estimates that 1 in 3 of his paintings begin on a small practice board where he works out the composition etc… before beginning to paint on a larger canvas. So often I try to paint a masterpiece from the start, but I run into problems along the way because I omit the planning stage…this is definitely a piece of advice I plan to utilize.

I really enjoyed this workshop and it left me really inspired to experiment with different methods.

In closing, here is a summary of what I took away from this workshop:

  1. Plan, plan, plan! Take the time to plan out your painting before you put paint to canvas
  2. Focus on big shapes and values first, then light and shadow within those shapes
  3. Yellow loses intensity as it recedes, then red and finally blue
  4. Values tighten and edges soften as they recede; the foreground will have more vibrant color and sharper edges
  5. Familiarize yourself with the subject you’re painting
  6. If the color isn’t right, scrape it off the canvas
  7. Don’t isolate an object when determining its value, see it in relation to the other objects around it
  8. You can calm a color down by adding in its complimentary color
  9. Vertical lines create majesty or a sense of something being large, horizontal lines create a sense of calm and diagonal lines create a sense of motion
  10. A glaze becomes part of the painting, a varnish sits on top; you can’t paint on top of a varnish
  11. The only hard and fast rules are scientific ones such as the rules of perspective and the way that colors move through moisture…other ‘rules’ (such as focal points, putting darks in first etc…) are merely tools
  12. Set goals for yourself – paint as much as possible and experiment with different methods to learn what works for you

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