Take Advantage of the Sights Around You

31 Oct 2013

In Splendido by Bernie Fuchs, the color scheme is warm, inviting, and has the appeal of a festive gathering that you want to be part of.

In Splendido by Bernie Fuchs, the color scheme is
warm, inviting, and has the appeal of a festive
gathering that you want to be part of
.

I typically don’t carry around a sketchbook, but during this time of year I could make an exception. There is so much going on, and it seems like everywhere I look there’s a composition  waiting to be found, a color scheme that excites because of its drama, or just an event I want to remember. Just yesterday I went for a walk, and the sight of a little girl tugging demandingly on her father’s pant leg, pointing to a 14-foot Christmas tree with an "I want!" look on her face was just begging to be captured. Later, two dapper gentlemen sitting on the subway in matching business suits, horn-rim glasses, and camel-colored trench coats looked as though they could have stepped right out of a painting.
San Miguel Courthouse by Bernie Fuchs is an example of an everyday scene with the makings of a great painting composition.
San Miguel Courthouse by Bernie Fuchs is
an example of an everyday scene with the
makings of a great painting composition.

Recognizing a compelling composition is the first step we all take when fleshing out an idea for a painting or drawing, and going through the rigors of how to interpret the scene takes time. But an artist also has to be ready to strategize and think about how your interpretation will evince the kind of dynamism and power you are after.

That power to project a concept or idea in your work comes down to not letting skill become a barrier between what you want to say and how you are able to say it. I think that is why so many artists focus on foundational skills such as drawing mastery. The pendulum swings both ways—innovative ideas inform skill; skill allows you to execute your vision. The same goes for truly understanding the color wheel and basic color theory. Without a reasoned approach to color mixing, a painting can be full of visual conflict or art colors that fail to excite.

To that end you need to be able to utilize resources that are worthwhile, so that the time you spend sharpening your skills is time well spent in areas of color and composition. There are several books I've discovered that marry these two crucial interests together. Drawing Nature for the Absolute Beginner, Radiant Oils, and Inside Acrylics are compelling resources for an artist, and each has instruction of the highest quality, and the author-artists are some of the best in their field. They expand on color mixing and how to evaluate a composition in a compelling way, among others.

These guides can help you take your art to the next level, so that wherever you look to find inspiration, you’ll have the skill to match that creative impulse. And right now, the North Light Shop is offering a tiered coupon deal, so the more you spend the more you save. It is the perfect time to stock up on all the new North Light books from the past couple months!


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Drawing Nature for the Absolute Beginner

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Through easy-to-follow techniques, tips and step-by-step demonstrations, Mark and Mary provide guidance and encouragement for beginning artists to draw nature.

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Inside Acrylics

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Catch a glimpse inside expert artists' studios as they explore innovative ways to use today's popular acrylics (including new slow-drying acrylics) to achieve not only the handling that has been traditionally the domain of oil paints, but also to learn other contemporary techniques.

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