William Bouguereau, was a 19th Century French Academic painter. His technique was the zenith point of representational painting. He was able to catch the very nuances of light shifts and color changes to create breathtaking, life-like figure paintings. Mr. Bouguereau’s realism is unsurpassed, before or since, in all of art history. With that being said, let’s learn from the best, just how do we paint the landscape as a background to our figure paintings?
Bouguereau’s work, “Breton Brother and Sister“, is the perfect example of a very effective way of using the landscape to create a background in a work of art. Notice that in this piece, the stars of the painting are the two figures in the foreground. Their colors are well saturated and vivid with a full dynamic range of values. Their warm skin tones and red skirt leap out of the painting. Light and dark tones are next to one another to attract your attention.
The background, or “supporting actor”, is much more muted with an abbreviated range of values. The colors of the foliage are less saturated and cooler in temperature. All of these elements push the landscape much further into space while pushing the figures even closer to us. Everything is done intentionally; much as a movie director composes a scene in a film.
Remember that the background needs to be painted as a backdrop and never to compete with your figures. Keep this in mind next time you work on your figure painting’s composition.
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This evening I have discovered the HBO show, entitled, “Silicon Valley”. The show is about this young man who has developed an idea that has the possibility to make huge changes in the world of digital technology. Big tech companies offer him millions but the growth of the idea and concept will be taken from him. He has the dilemma, to grow the idea with investors or sell it out and abandon his baby.
This show struck a major chord with me. I have been perfecting my technique over the years since my teenage years and adult life. My art has always been my baby and I am in charge of what happens to it, its development and it’s commercialization. Yes, I said it, the commercialization of my art. I have been taking care of my art my whole life and I have finally come to the point that it is time that my art takes care of me.
When is it OK to commercialize? Is it nobler and artistic to work for someone else when I am sitting on something as marketable as my art? It is not nobler to play it safe?
We wait and hope that someone will discover our talents, our developed skills and ideas. We pine and hope for validation. Really? We need validation?
I was the one that had gotten up 3 hours early and left 3 hours later during high school each day, to take extra painting and drawing classes. I was the one that had taken a bus and 2 trains to the National Academy of Design, 5 days a week, for 4 years to study with the best painters in New York City.
I paid my dues and over the 25 years after art school, I have kept pushing my artistic talent and technique. I have been taking verbal jabs at those who had given me the advice to give up this “art thing” for something more serious. I have sacrificed new cars, relationships, and respect of many for the development of my artistic skills. What is more serious than that?!
Validation? I earned my stripes and I need no validation. The only validation I need is my hard work and experience. Yeah, I will be betting on me because I know the solid foundation my art is standing upon. No more being a tool to achieve someone else’s dreams and goals. It’s time to work on my own. It has been an honor to develop my art over the years. I would not trade one day of it. It is time to bet on myself.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
Is it OK to go all out? Is it prudent and wise to take a chance that seems risky on paper?
Do we decide how our life is going to turn out or are we destined to fulfill a plan? Someone asked me, is it our compulsions and inner drive that will determine the ultimate level of success?
Have you ever been afraid of the still small voice within? Does that voice have promises for a different life? Can that voice direct us on a path that would deliver?
These questions I have been wrestling with since I was a teenager. I have been and always will be afraid of that still small voice and its obsession. That obsession is my art and the destination that it promises for me if I move forward without compromise.
To be successful in the world of art, wouldn’t that be everything that I have always wanted? Wouldn’t financial freedom and a certain amount of fame make my life easier? Won’t all that I wanted to be mine and the people around me happier?
I think of the roles that we all play within our social groups, be it family, romantic relationships, or friendships. We all serve a role in the “play” of life. Some of us are the smart ones or another would be the pretty one. Person “A” would be the one with the financial struggles and an issue with money managing. Their group of friends and family would just say, “That is just how “A” is.” Every one of us fulfills our individual roles. It is who we have become in the eyes of everyone around us. It is our “station” in life. I have a hypothetical for you though.
What if I make such a huge paradigm shift that I shatter the roles that I have always played? I know that if I do become successful and fulfill my calling, I could be such an alien to who I was. I may alienate myself from the people in my life. I am not saying that this definitely will be the case or that there is any truth to this hypothetical but, it could happen and that is alarming.
I have always been the one that was not successful and struggled for my art. I was the one that made the “safe route” more attractive to those around me. My being the example of following their heart and losing, propagating the notion of stay in school and get a practical degree, is edifying to their decision to play it safe. But what if? What if?
Let’s say, that I rise above my fears of homelessness and strive to listen to that still small voice and reach the goals that were set forth for me; how will that paradigm shift affect those around me. Will my success allow others to listen more intently to that still small voice? Will my sweat and tears save another from as many?
It all comes down to that, doesn’t it? I will strive to help the one that does not want to go the “safe route” be it now or sometime in future, even long after I am gone. So I will persevere and continue to fight the fight to keep that voice alive and listen to the voice, whatever the consequences.
Here I am in the wee hours of the morning, on my Samsung Galaxy tablet, typing my blog post about my art and my inspirations. With the advent of technology and the Internet, I can reach more people in a single morning than Rembrandt could have reached in years.