Golden Autumn 1895 Isaac Levitan
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Having spent a lifetime exploring and finding purpose and fulfillment through art, we decided to build this ad free art and painting website to share what we have learned and to inspire others in their creative lives. Much of the important content (over 500 articles) you'll find here is instructional - the steps to making paintings in oil, pastel or watercolor - often illustrated by videos, slide shows and Step-by-Step demonstrations. As a member, each month you'll receive a new in-depth educational or art travel article along with a new, illustrated Voices of Experience interview with a top-flight artist. Enjoy the free content - it takes many, many hours of research and writing to produce. We believe that you will find value and inspiration in it. If you do, please consider joining as a member now to access all the members-only in-depth articles and to add your valuable support to this important effort. And don't forget, members receive discounts on many of the useful products, downloads, books and gifts in our Store.
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"Together, John and Ann have decades of experience to share in watercolor, pastel, and oil painting, and they are some of the savviest, committed plein-air painters I’ve come across. Their expertise makes The Artist’s Road a one-of-a-kind resource and Artist Daily is lucky to have them as contributing writers to our Plein Air blog".
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Page from the interview by Bob Bahr of The Artist's Road co-founder John Hulsey in Outdoor Painter (Plein Air Magazine). John shared with Bob his experiences this fall being filmed by PBS St. Louis while he demonstrated plein air paintiing high above the Mississippi River near Alton, Illinois.
Click HERE to watch the plein air video demonstration.
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The visual artist who works with color has a tall, but very interesting mountain to climb. We start by intuitively playing with colors as children. Our choices are free and somewhat arbitrary. Fun. Our senses are not well-developed to perceive subtleties in shades or values at first, and so we paint that way. As we grow, our innate sensitivity to all things visual grows and our appreciation of the vast world of color begins to develop. The more we look, the more we tend to see. The more paintings made, the greater the proficiency and sensitivity to color. It is a positive feedback loop which is never-ending.
There are two ways to learn about colors and color mixing—trial and error, or the science of color theory. Ann and I both had the good fortune to have taken color theory classes in art school. They provided a solid theoretical foundation for the work of mixing paint that was to come. Color theory provides a framework, based on the color wheel, for understanding color, color temperature, harmonies, complementaries and all the various color relationships and combinations which can be made. It is the starting point for experimenting purposefully with color and using it deliberately to create an effect.
Although color theory is a very valuable way to understand color, one can also learn all about the colors on the palette by methodically cross-mixing each color together in a grid, as Richard Schmid recommends and demonstrates in his iconic book, Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting. By the time one has done this laborious exercise, one will know for certain how to make any color out of any other color on your particular palette. It may seem like a tedious way to go, but it works, and the lesson will never be forgotten.
As a young painter, I didn’t want to do exercises—I wanted to paint. After a while, though, I realized that I was often guessing about color relationships and doing a lot of re-painting. That’s when I started to collect books about painting and color. In addition to the Schmid books, one of my favorites is the late Ted Goerschner’s Oil Painting: The Workshop Experience. Goerschner’s painting style was bright and impressionistic, but based on solid color theory. In this terrific book, Ted showed us how he arranged his special palette of colors and worked through some basic color wheel relationships in easy-to-understand demonstrations. Ted also developed his own colorful grays which he mixed up each time he laid out his palette. He knew by heart how each of his grays combined with his other tube colors to create a wide range of colorful neutrals which made up the largest masses in his paintings. The entire book is a delightful education in advanced color use.
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Perfect proportions observed in nature often follow the theory of the golden section - the ratio between the dimensions of natural and geometric forms. Historically, artists, designers and architects have used it as a means of defining beauty in a theoretical rather than intuitive way. Use the Golden Section Finder, a pocket sized gazing device, to locate the proportional perfection in your surroundings. Also in our Store: Check out the tools and other products that we use in our own art and travels. We only offer things for sale in our Store that we enthusiastically believe in.
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We are artists, authors and teachers with over 35 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals. You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
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We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.