I had my weekly Ridgewood Community School watercolor class tonight and wanted to share my demo and a lesson on brushstroke economy.
Today's lesson was focused on John Singer Sargent. I've studied a lot about Sargent and I'm always impressed with how efficiently he worked. We talked in class tonight about midtones (also called halftones) and we discussed the idea of brushstroke economy. Sargent was a master of midtones and he wrote "You must classify the values...If you begin with the middle-tone and work up to the lights and down towards the darks -- so that you deal last with your highest lights and darkest darks -- you avoid false accents."
Now to discuss brushstroke economy; I think this is one of the most important lessons in all of painting, but especially for watercolor painting. I first learned about this idea in college in a class with Patrick Connors. I loved Professor Connors' class because he emphasized traditional techniques. He told us about Frans Hals (1582 - 1666) and how he would lay down a brushstroke and leave it. This lesson was taught to Sargent by his teacher, Carolus Duran (1837 - 1917) as well. This goes well with midtones because you can lay down a broad midtone and then start sculpting the form with singular brushstrokes au premier coup (on the first try).
A lot of translations of au premier coup that I've seen have related it to alla prima, but they're different according to what I've read in the book, The Painter in Oil by Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst. Parkhurst writes that au premier coup means to lay down a brushstroke and then leave it and to build up the brushstrokes in a mosaic fashion. Alla prima only means that the painting is completed in a single sitting, but au premier coup isn't necessarily in one sitting.
That's my lesson for today, have a good week everyone.
Done with the second day working on this. I think it's going to take around 3 more sessions to get the background fully in and the full details of my portrait. It's going well and I'm excited to work on it more.
My watercolor class for the Ridgewood Community School starts tonight at 7 which is something else that I'm looking forward to.
This past weekend I went painting en plein air with my friend Asem and ran into some frustration. Sometimes a painting doesn't go well and there's nothing you can do except to learn something from it. The weather was beautiful regardless and we had a fun time hiking to our painting spot. If you live around Bergen County, NJ, then check out our PCD En Plein Air events that I host.
With the frustration of yesterday, I realized the importance of painting what you enjoy and what you're inspired by. I did a painting today of a scene that I've wanted to paint for a while and it came out great. While I was painting, I was thinking about a Sargent painting, Venetian Glass Workers (1880/2). I've seen the painting a few times in person in Chicago and it always stuck with me.
I'm also proud to announce that our Pushing Colored Dirt fall 2020 courses are open for registration. I'm teaching a bunch of different adult courses and you can check out all the awesome instructors that are a part of our crew. If you have questions you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll be writing again soon because I haven't written enough recently. Have an awesome week.
I'm so excited to announce that one of my classes at Pushing Colored Dirt begins tonight at 7PM. Our classes are online and are taught via Zoom. My class tonight is Watercolor for Beginners, but I'm also teaching Pet Portraits for Beginners which begins this Friday, July 31st and you can still sign up for it.
Also, you guys should sign up for our PCD newsletter. I'll be sending out news, information about classes, some cool art history facts, quotes and general advice about art making. You can sign up by visiting our PCD homepage and scrolling down to subscribe.
I know I haven't written on this personal blog in a while, but I did write a long blog post over at PCD that you should check out. I wrote it about inspiration, influences and idol worship. If you ever feel lost as an artist (or person in general) give it a read and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful week everyone, much love.