This daily weblog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney is for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. James Gurney wrote "Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter," he also wrote and illustrated "Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time.
Jeff asks: "Any tips for conveying the effects of candlelight or lantern light in a painting?"
Jeff, yes, let's take a look at Viggo Johansen (1851-1935). He was a Danish painter in the Skagen group, and like his colleague Krøyer he loved to paint gatherings of friends around the dinner table. His painting Evening Talk includes a lantern on the gable and two candles on the piano.
Viggo Johansen, Evening Talk, 1886
Johansen does a few things to make the effect of light convincing. 1. The areas of dark are large and simple. Note how in the lower part of the picture, it's very hard to make out the details of the chairs table. 2. The edges between forms in the outer areas are kept soft. Note the way he paints the framed canvases on the wall. They're quite blurry and out-of-focus. 3. The fall-off rate of the light roughly follows the inverse square law. 4. The effect area under the lantern is small, crisp, and detailed: lots of dots and sparkles. 5. The area of the lantern itself is a flat, warm white, with more or less glow or halation around it depending on the amount of smoke in the air.
Heinrich Kley (German1863-1945) often juxtaposed elegance and cruelty.
Like Arthur Rackham, his knowledge of anatomy and his fertile imagination inspired generations of artists in the early 20th century, including the Disney Studios.
According to one book: "In fact, Disney himself held up a book of Kley’s drawings during a television appearance and said that they were integral to the studio’s lessons and workshops for newly hired animators."
Shipyard painting by Heinrich Kley
Fortunately, new works by Kley regularly appear on the auction market. Former Disney animator Andreas Deja has uncovered some unusual and newly seen Kleys on his blog Deja View. Today's images come from his blog.
Artist Theodore Lukits (1897-1992) lived in Los Angeles, where he ran a school of painting.
Theodore Lukits (on ladder) and Dean Cornwell (below right)
Lukits had once served as an apprentice to Dean Cornwell (1892-1960). Los Angeles artist David Starrett has made a few short videos to share what he learned from his studies with Lukits in the early 1970s. Youtube Link.
David Starrett on Color Theory and Theodore Lukits - YouTube
Students were limited to working with white, cadmium yellow pale, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, Phthalo (Monastral) green, and ultramarine blue.
From those colors students would make a color wheel, tinting the colors in the center of the circle and darkening them with their complement on the outside of the circle.
Drawing by Theodore Lukits
As Starrett points out, Lukits placed a lot of importance on understanding drawing and value before embarking on color.
Painting by Theodore Lukits
To start out, students were expected to create 3-month-long graphite drawings of casts, and then they could paint the casts in color, still focusing on value primarily.
David Starrett on Theodore Lukits and Theory of Value - YouTube
Youtube Link. Once they understood value, they painted from still lifes, which were often lit with brightly colored lights.
Painting by Theodore Lukits
Lukits liked setting up strong color oppositions. Sometimes he would drape a red vase with a green veil, or put two strongly colored objects next to each other.
David Starrett On Mixing Oil Color: Greens and Reds to Grays. - YouTube
Lukits discouraged the use of earth colors, which he called "tobacco juice" colors. He argued that you didn't need them because you could mix any color from the few basic hues. (Youtube Link)
Starrett uses his fingers to mix a gray from complementary colors.
The lead is quite hard, unlike water-soluble crayons, which are waxier than the water-soluble crayons or pastels, such as the Caran d'Ache Neocolor. I'm not really sure what advantage it is to have the whole pencil made out of the lead unless you want to make large areas of tone. I suspect that these pencils would break if you dropped them on a stone floor, but I haven't tried that yet.
To wrap up my coverage of professional basketball, I'll paint the NBA/ESPN logo by hand using old-school tools. (Link to video)
At almost any antique store, you can find high quality drafting sets, by Dietzgen or DesignMaster. They're not too expensive because few people use them anymore. For example, I recently found a DesignMaster 1146C for about $20.
Drafting sets contain a variety of compasses and ruling pens. Some of the compasses can be set up with either a graphite tip or a ruling pen tip. The ruling pen tip has a small set screw that precisely adjusts the width of the line. The bigger compasses have double break points so that your ruling pen meets the paper at a right angle.
You can fill the reservoir of the ruling pen tip with either ink, watercolor or thinned-down gouache. Instead of dipping the tip into the ink or liquid paint, you should put a drop into the gap using a brush or an eyedropper.
With these tools you can paint a perfect circle in gouache.
The logo for the NBA on ESPN is usually seen in its digital incarnation, which has a gradation to make the white ring look dimensional. To do that, I load two brushes, one with dark red and one with lighter red, and blend the colors wet into wet.
The NBA / ESPN logo is a trademark belonging to their respective owners
The result, which appears here a little larger than the actual size of the original, isn't perfect, but it's just a sketchbook page. If I wanted to refine it, I would work larger and spend more time on it.
There are so many things in motion on and off the court in an NBA game that it kind of boggles the mind to translate it into paint.
(link to video on Facebook) As you can see in the video, I try to use the brush systematically to paint similar objects with a given paint mixture, so I'm not mixing and painting every spot.
Here again, I'm starting the sketch from life and finishing it later from a variety of references, including photos and videos. Even playing a sound recording of the game gets my head back into my memories.
Knicks game, Madison Square Garden, gouache
With a vignette like this I wanted to gradate the picture to the white of the page at the edges. I arbitrarily lightened it with cool colors on the right and warm colors on the left.
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