Thomas Schaller shows the way to proceed beyond what the eye actually sees to introduce a unique vision.
I did a quick compositional sketch to allow me to determine where I wanted to put big items and worth in my painting for maximum effect. Even though the nature of my drawing is very different in my reference photo, it keeps a connection to my original inspiration. This sketch functioned as a guide, however I felt liberated to change course as I painted.
The sky I painted does not look anything like the sky in the reference photograph. In my interpretation, bright light comes in from left
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So many times I will see a student complete a gorgeous passage, only to find that it’s been scraped away moments later. I will ask. Usually students will tell me the painting appeared OK, but it did not look like the subject. But it looked like your own painting, and that’s what matters,” I will reply. When the entire world of your painting starts to evolve, that’s the only reality you need. For as long as it takes to finish the painting, the artist needs to live just in that world.
While from the Tuscan town of Lucca, Italy, I snapped this picture of town of San Martino. This photo was only the springboard for my artistic vision.
It’s my view that an artist’s job is to translate what he or she sees, but not just to imitate it. Also, an artist ought to attempt and express what is felt about the topic, not exactly what is seen. There are various forms of reality. The observed reality of this subject is 1 form, but there is also the reality of this painting which results from this observation. This reality is much more crucial because it is where the artist’s voice has been heard.
BRUSHES: . Raphael Softaqua (synthetic squirrel-like) Nos. 2, 8 and 4 petit-gris. Raphael Kaerell (artificial ) No. 10 around and No. 12 flat. Raphael Precision (synthetic sable-like) No. 10 flat. 3/4-inch synthetic flat. Nos. 4, 8 and 10 synthetic rounds I also flipped the worth of this tower, making it darker on top, which draws the attention to the center of this painting. In addition to value comparison, I like contrasts of detail and specificity. The tower will be the tightest, most finished-looking part of the painting. Even the other areas of the cathedral have been painted a bit more loosely.
THOMAS W SCHALLER, AWS, NWS, is a award-winning artist, architect, author and teacher. In 2010 he left his career as an internationally famous architectural artist and concept programmer to turn his focus to teaching and creating fine art in watercolor. His work has been featured in prestigious exhibitions in more than 20 nations. Schaller has authored three best-selling books on painting; the newest is Thomas W Schaller: Architect of Lighting (North Light Books, 2018).
I painted the trees onto the proper impressionistically. Note that these trees do not reach as large as the ones in the photo. To add measurement, I varied the values. The lighter foliage on the top appears further back. Among the easiest, most successful tricks in painting would be to put up three distinct values–mild, dark and mid-tone. As if by magic, they imply depth.
This Facebook Live demonstration was a great time for all of us. Thanks to Tom for his generous sharing and lovely work!
I didn’t want the foreground to attract too much attention or be too special, so I put it in with a big, moist, succulent brush. At this point, the tree trunks were a little more specific than I liked, but I’d address them later.
To avert the bookend-ish look of the trees from the photograph, I differentiated the shape, tonality, colour and specificity of those two regions of foliage. Dark values make the tree on the left seem nearer, and its narrow branches link the left side to the right. I included a few dark marks to the tower to signify ledges and window insets. Spritzes of water softened the edges of the tree trunks and fuzzy the foreground washes, adding puzzle.
I flipped the values of the skies from what looks in the photograph because I needed the center of attention to be toward the base of the tower. The value comparison between the darker blue part of sky and the sunlit tower brings the eye to that area.
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Enjoy a watercolor demonstration with Thomas Schaller because he discusses his painting procedure in detail and generously shows how he gets the artistic magic occur one painterly stroke at one time!