Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Subjects We Paint

This is a drawing by pastel landscape painter
Richard McKinley who discusses the need to
paint or draw all three of the subjects for practice:
still life, landscape and portraits to keep our artistic
skills at their best. Here is part of his
"In becoming a well-trained painter, each of these
subject areas—still life, portrait, and landscape—
provides a lesson and should not be overlooked due
to a lack of motivation. You may not be attracted to
the still life, uninterested in the portrait, or feel
dispassionate about the landscape, but by practicing
them you will polish technical skills that make you
a more confident painter. A painting is a configuration
of accurate shapes, a representation of lights
influences, and a sensitive arrangement of colors.
These exist in every representational painting, and
for that matter every abstract painting. Individual
subject matter is all composed of them. In that regard,
everything we paint is all the same. Each subject does
provide a heightened lesson, though. The still life
teaches the importance of value. Within the confines
of a relatively small distance, the influence of light
and the manipulation of edge create form. The portrait
teaches accurate drawing. The human likeness allows for
no error. The landscape teaches color harmony. Natural
light and its influence across nature’s palette help us
to understand the relationship all colors have to one
another. A wise instructor passed this thought on to
me many years ago: “To learn value relationships, it’s
the still life; to draw, it’s the portrait; and to become
sensitive to color, it’s the landscape. Each has something
to offer. Practice them often and then paint your passions!”

[pictured above] A portrait drawing demonstration of mine;
just to prove that I still do my homework.


Crystal Cook said...

Thanks for sharing this article! I love Richard, his landscapes are amazing, but I hadn't seen one of his portraits before. Beautiful. Good advice, I need work on the landscape thing. Hmmm, you've motivated me :) thanks!

Susan Liles said...

Crystal...I love Richard's work too. I also need to get out the pencil and paper and do more drawing and sketching, really helps.

jane minter said...

susan thanks for sharing this link and article which i found very interesting and inspiring .


Srishti said...

Wow! a very interesting insight which I will keep close to my heart....

Susan Liles said...

Jane and Srishti...thanks, always nice to find little gems of knowledge out there, more than happy to share it with others.

Nick said...

well, I suppose...but it's great ideas that make great art, not polishing the water faucet :)

Susan Liles said...

Nick..Thanks for stopping by,...polishing water faucets is always at the top of the list. Sewing curtains is at the bottom of my list.
I'll have to explain that one someday.

Jeanette said...

Great article and sound advice.

I'm enjoying my first visit to you blog and will be back for more. Excellent work.

Susan Liles said...

Jeanette...nice to have you here. Enjoy your blog too.

Nancy Lee said...

Hmmmm...does that mean I can't be so lazy?

Susan Liles said...

Nancy...yes, that means put that sleeve of oreo cookies back and turn the soap opera off and go grab your sketching pad. I'm sweeping the cookie crumbs off the couch right now!