Tuesday, April 16, 2013

115 The art of the sketch

Doing a preliminary sketch is one of the best ways to insure the success of a painting. In the video below I focus on keeping the design of the sketch strong by using three value zones. In this case I kept the sky and water as the lightest zone, the ground plane as the middle value zone, and the trees, shadows on the embankment (which read as upright planes) and the reflection of the trees as the darkest zone. Try it and see if it works for you.

Brad Teare April 2013


  1. Nice sketch, Brad. Nice use of overlapping shapes to create depth.

    There are three shapes on the right that are similar. The foreground dark mass, the middle ground on the other side of the bank (dark mass), and the dark mass at the horizon, though it is slightly different. They are all the same widths for the most part, and have similar slopes.

    My eye sees those three shapes as being very similar.

    Love the center of interest. Very interesting shape.

    I've been doing thumbnails more than usual lately. It's a very handy device for working on design. Previously, I'd draw monochrome on canvas and work on the design directly. But I kind of like trying to work things out ahead of time. I've got to get a small pocket sketch book and some soft leads. The Bic 'click pencil' I use has such thin lead and breaks easy.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. This step is the most critical when working out a concept. You can see immediately if a picture is working. I believe that the value study is more critical than the color study because if the values are wrong, no amount of color or flashy brushwork will save a piece.

  3. Good eye Robert! I plan to do a larger version of this sketch and the 8"x10" painting. I will definitely revisit the very asymetrical bands you mentioned. Not sure if I should add a smaller bush or maybe blend a few bands together. Thanks for the critique!

  4. Hi Brad:

    Please, it was just my view, not really a critique. I was reading a statement from Ovanes Berberian that basically says if the design isn't write, don't do the painting. And I'm not saying your design isn't right. It's good!

    Just trying to be more observant on my own thumbnails. If you can catch something there, and fix it before you start the real thing, all the better.

    I do like the design of this very much. The gentle slopes, the center mass of the main tree, the tree half off the edge on the left. You've got a lot of good things going on here.

    I don't know why those edges strike my eye. Again, not saying they're wrong as much as I'm just pointing something out. It's for you to decide whether it works for you according to your vision of it.

    And for what it's worth, I just love being criticized. Sometimes in my own paintings, I can't see flaws. I've started to use a mirror or turning a painting upside down. But learning to see my paintings critically is something I am trying to work on. Often, I can tell something's not right, but it's so subtle often and hard to pick out exactly what.

    Anyways, I really do like the design here very much! Keep up the good work!

  5. No problem Robert. I appreciate your comments. I actually didn't see those redundant shapes. I think it is easier for me to see redundancy as it presents itself across the horizontal axis. I tend not to see redundant shapes as they affect the vertical axis. It's strange but true. But it is good to remember. Like I mentioned I intend to do a larger painting and your input was much appreciated! George Inness would put a small bush or tree to break up the lines along the bank. I might give that a try.


Thanks for your comments!


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