Since I began my art journey — about 4-1/2 years ago — I’ve stumbled across a number of theories regarding art. I use the word stumbled quite deliberately, for learning to draw and paint is a journey, and I very often do get tripped up with ideas I’ve come across.
The various theories I’ve studied in regard to art mostly deal with colors and color schemes — such as the ideas from Arnold Fletcher that I shared in yesterday’s post. There are many more theories, of course. There’s John Carlson’s “theory of angles”, there are theories regarding composition, and theories classed as mimetic, procedural, expressive, formalist, and oh, so much more. We’re already way over my head.
Many of these theories are generalized ideas about art — about what it is, how we define it, what it means. Those theories, of course, are highly subjective. Other theories, such as those involving colors and values, are more clearly-outlined.
Recently I tried using some of the knowledge I’ve gained about art to create an autumn scene. I started with the idea of using a color tetrad of violet, yellow, orange, and blue. As the painting progressed, I wasn’t completely happy with the color scheme, and it naturally evolved more toward a complementary blue and orange scheme.
I did enjoy doing this painting. It was nice to work with vibrant colors after all the blacks and whites and subtle sepias of Inktober. And it was interesting to play around with not only Fletcher’s theories involving bright colors, dull colors, light colors, and dark colors, but to also give some though to John Carlson and his ideas about landscape painting.
Overall, the painting wasn’t what I hoped it would be, but as with all my paintings, I learned from this one. I learned:
- I need to spend more time planning my work. I took a photograph I liked and used that as a reference without considering any changes. As a result, I have a poorly-composed painting with no real focal point.
- As I so often do, I made the mistake of dividing my canvas in half by the horizon line. The painting would have been better if I’d focused more on sky or on the land. I just ended up with a very ambivalent scene.
- As always, my foreground is weak, nothing more than smatterings of colors, and yes, that’s a feeble-looking bush I painted there just for the sake of putting something in the foreground. My reference photo has only a grassy field.
- While I do like some of the bright, bold colors in this painting, and while I did achieve the effect of a few shadows, I still need to work on creating a good range of values.
So while I began with a few theoretical concepts in mind, I can’t say that I successfully put those ideas into practice with this painting. All the same, it was fun, and maybe I even went a little overboard with the bright colors. That’s all right. I needed those colors.