Tony contacted me having
read my series of articles on the 5 Cís in Leisure Painter and, looking at my
website, realised he lived only half an hour away.
Tony has only recently
taken up watercolour painting but had done some drawing before.
brought a portfolio of around ten paintings to the first session, some of which
were copies of other artistís paintings and some of which were originals,
painted from photographs. Tony had never painted en
plein air. As we looked through his paintings it became obvious that he
could draw but his paintings had no clear concept ( the first C) to identify the
centre of interest and were rather flat because of a lack of understanding about
tone values or contrast (the third C). He had a rudimentary knowledge of
composition (the second C) but knew virtually nothing about colour (the forth C)
or colour mixing. Some of his paintings were overworked which suggested that he
did not know when to stop painting or when he had reached the completion stage
(the fifth C).
In his first
session we drew and painted an example of a subject I provided which illustrated
concept, composition and particularly contrast. In my experience, peopleís
paintings improve dramatically when they understand tonal values and how to use
them. Our first painting was a tonal rendering in a single colour (ultramarine
blue) of the subject based on a five-point tonal scale, which was painted before
starting on the painting itself. The sample painting was printed off in grey-scale
using my computer imaging system and annotated with numbers for each of the five
tones. The importance of getting tonal values right and using them to direct the
viewerís eye to the centre of interest was immediately obvious to Tony. The 3
x 3 grid system I teach almost guarantees good composition.
Two hours passed very quickly and I sent Tony away with another grey-scale
example but with no numbers on it as Ďhomeworkí to paint before the next
session. I also asked him to extend the five-point monochrome scale to a
nine-point tonal scale, three light tones, three mid-tones and three dark tones.
When he returned for the next session it was clear from the tonal painting that
he had done from the example I had given him and tonal paintings he had done of
some of his original paintings that he was well on his way to understanding and
using tonal values to transform his paintings.
Subsequent tonal work has involved painting a five-point tonal scale for each of
the twelve colours in his paintbox, thus helping him to see colour as tone in
preparation for the next C (colour).
He has also
painted his original homework grey-scale example using only three colours
following an intensive session which focused on colour and glazing.