|very old, dead fish in a jar - in discolored liquid.|
|frog skins and their storage box|
|An old rusty bucket|
|very old snakes in a jar - with ropes around their necks!|
|a dead loon with a tag|
'cause I can - is how the saying goes....
But for me, 'cause I can, is because I do.
What that means....my recent posts about warm vs. cool, the color of snow and shadow, the subtle differences in value, etc. etc. Whether I'm plein air painting a gorgeous mountain scene in Yellowstone National Park or dead snakes in a jar...It's all the same.
Yes, the above objects are all in the collection of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. They have intriguing stories, interesting history and are part of Yellowstone's amazing heritage. But, they are also interesting shapes and colors - ripe for the painting...and learning.
What we are painting are shapes and colors. If they are interesting shapes and colors, or an interesting enough subject to you to motivate you to pull out those brushes - do it. It will all transfer. If you learn to really see and then record what you are seeing in paint, you can paint anything. (Yes, even metal, glass, water, a portrait, a plein air landscape....all those things that many people consider "hard".)
All we're doing is learning to see and translate that vision into paint on canvas. Do not have a preconceived notion of what you are painting. Don't decide a tree is green or water is hard, before you paint. LOOK at it as shapes and colors - NOT trees, grass, mountains, water, and snow...or even dead loons, snakes in a jar or rusty buckets. Different light, different weather conditions, etc. make objects appear differently. Wipe your brain slate clean and just look at it. Paint what you see.
It's all just shapes and colors. (I know I keep saying that - But that's the point I'm trying to get across.) If you can nail the colors and put the right shape in the right place on your canvas, it will appear correct - weather it's a person's face or frog skins.
Here's a recent painting I've been working on....
|Pronghorn study - 6" x 6"|
Just like our recent snowy landscape / plein air studies we discussed in earlier posts... Look at the white fur in the shadows. (Just like the white snow in those earlier discussions.) Compare the values of the white fur in the shadows to the light on the bushes. That white fur is a darker value than the bushes. It is NOT "white". And it's cooler. (Sound familiar from our snow discussions?)
Cool colors in those shadows, control the values when compared to the background. It's the same principles working here as the snow in a plein air painting. Learn to see that, and you'll learn to see it all!
So, why do I paint dead fish in a jar? Because it all crosses over to make me a better all round painter. I'm adding to my knowledge of painting shapes and colors. Honing that visual skill. The more I paint and the more variety I throw at myself, the better a painter I will become.
Paint the salt shaker on your table, your cat, your children, your foot, whatever hits you - they are all shapes and colors...notches in the rung of the learning curve. Keep a curious air of discovery and you will enjoy painting anything.
And if you keep your brushes moving... when you go outside to plein air paint, where the information bombards you and time is of the essence, the neurons will remember some of that shape and color information and translate it into the current problem solving on canvas. And "Wa-La", it got just a little easier.
Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from the windows of our gallery....
We see many pronghorn (often called antelope) out our windows. Fastest land animal in North America. Amazing creatures. (Hence the study above of "the neighbors".)
This photo I took a couple days ago. Not my best pronghorn photo, but it is a good example of light and shadow on them. Notice the strong difference of value from their white fur in the sunlight to the white fur in the shadow. If you can see that, all that is left is to translate that into paint on your canvas. Luckily, we have a lifetime to hone that one!