Tag Archives: oil painting tips

“If You Must…”, My methods in working with photos

So often I have been asked if I utilize photography in my painting process. The short answer is “yes”, but I always add the qualifier, “If I must paint from a photograph, I find it absolutely ESSENTIAL to have done a color study from life”.

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 Color Study, “Last Kiss of Sunlight”  24″ x 12″

Implicit in this answer is the fact that I will try my hardest to develop the piece from life, but sometimes, it is just about impossible to do that.  Whether it is working with moving animals or very small children, using a photograph adds sureness to find the drawing in the complicated forms. Another exception is working with very late or early light that has a working period of about 10 minutes before the whole tonal range has shifted to another key. Again, I will often try to make this work by making multiple visits, but this too has its practical limitations.

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(Thanks for the photo Terry!)

Recently, we hosted a painting workshop in which I had the opportunity to share my methods of developing a study and then working up a finished studio painting from it.  We discussed what was beneficial in the photo and what not to trust. (Basically, I used the Field Study for the color and value reads and relied on the photo for most of the drawing, adjusting the foreshortened figure, etc…)  I would encourage you to implement this method in your own work. The extra time chasing the light in the study will pay dividends in your final work!  Not only will the physical study be necessary in completing the finished painting as you make value and color judgements, but you will also have the opportunity to fill your senses with the ambience of the experience which ALWAYS seem to work their way into the final work.  I wish you joy and success in your efforts!

 

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“Last Kiss of Sunlight”  36 x 24      Framed by  http://jsgildedframes.com

For those interested in further explanation, I have taken the time to extensively describe what I look for in the subject when working from life in our DVD’s.  Click image to see more… Enjoy!

 

Instructional Resources wp

 Thank You!

 


Balance…Poetry and Structure

Structure and Poetry

 

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Clematis  30 x 40

When I have been most moved and impressed by artwork, music, or any expressive art form, it has been when the work has first grabbed my soul with its poetry, then amazed my mind in its structure and construction.

Throughout my development as a visual artist, I have found my greatest struggle in the making of art is to balance the crafting of accurate, solid forms while retaining the lyrical nature of the visual world. So often in my efforts to capture the exactness of what I am seeing, I lose the poetic beauty and essence of the elegant, peripheral line.

For me, the balance comes when I can relax enough while in the throws of building the solid structure of the forms to absorb and feel the rhythm before me. Certainly this comes with experience, but to be aware of the end goal during the early stages of development is critical in not becoming too stiff in your approach. While working and studying the subject, to feel the connectedness of the forms, the living, breathing life of our subject makes a clear difference to me in the end result. I have found that it is having faith that the poetry will come and manifest itself if I am true to the beauty and strength of the construction, being careful not to overthink the problem.  Allowing all of your senses to take part in the mechanical process is the beginning of where the poetry begins.

I wish you great success as you strive to bring your paintings to life in poetic strength!

Clematis-detail

 

Merry Christmas!

Instructional Resources wp

Thank you!


Video Interview with “Master’s Secret Summit”

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First of all, I would like to thank all who have so enthusiastically followed this blog, and would like to thank you for your patience as the posts have been less frequent lately.  My intention is to begin to pick up the pace as we move into autumn.

On an interesting note, I just recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Kathryn Lloyd, founder of the Master’s Secret Summit.

While I have had numerous interviews about my artwork and my painting process, Kathryn seemed to bring out aspects and ideas that rarely surface in such a meeting.  I found her questions thought provoking and hitting at the heart of what this journey of art is to me.  Many other artists will be featured in this Summit as well including Burt Silverman, Arturo Garcia, Deborah Elmquist, Michelle Dunaway and Harley Brown among others.

I invite you to join us at….

Enjoy!

gerhartz videos

 

 

Video Resources and more that thoroughly share my approach…thank you.!


The Artist’s “Siren’s Call” Technical Insight #33

This past month, I was honored to contribute to John Pototschnik’s blog post, Finding your Artistic Voice.

This is such a critical topic in that so many beginning artists tend to be overly concerned with “being original”.  The danger in this obsession to “have a voice” is that artists cloud or muddy their own voice, often inhibiting their true self from coming forth.  I was no exception to this siren’s call and had to learn this through the years.   Below are my thoughts…may they be helpful to you.  🙂

In my experience, finding my  artistic voice came most naturally when I thought least about it. When I began a career as a commercial artist 25 years ago, the only virtue was to “have a style”. While that stint was very short lived,  I had to divest myself of such thinking as that approach only led to hollow, superficial works. While these commercial works were eye catching and trendy, they lacked soul and meaning. Rather, when I entered the fine art realm, I was very intentional to concern myself not with technique but simply recording the subject, it was then that my true voice emerged. The longer an artist works within this framework, the more authentic and original their artistic voice becomes.

Please see John’s full article at…

http://www.pototschnik.com/finding-your-artistic-voice-gerhartz-hanson-cook-landscape-paiinting/

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“Holding Her Close”  24 x 18 oil on linen

These ideas and more are described in great detail in our book and video presentations. Click image to see more… Enjoy!

gerhartz videos

Good luck as you charge ahead!


Technical Insights by Daniel Gerhartz, Lessons from Sargent #3

In this final post analyzing the magnificent portrait by John S. Sargent, I would like to share my thoughts on his brilliance in attention to edges.  I truly believe that accurate edge work is the one of the elements that separates great paintings from the good.
Sargent portrait #3

In Mr. Sargent’s piece, he utilized the full range of edges (softest to razor sharp), giving variety that adds great contrast, drama, and interest to the painting.

Notice how he has taken great care in modeling the transitions on the features of the face so as to soften them down so that the edges on the construction of the nose, eye sockets, brow line, and anatomy around the mouth did not compete with the razor sharp quality of the strongest, peripheral edge.

Again, as we see in this case, the sharpest edges presented themselves along the peripheral edge of the face (aside from the stark sharpness of the rims on the glasses).  In my experience teaching painting, I have seen many students wary of putting the hardest edge on the far side of the face for fear that the distant side will not recede, but if this is how it actually looks in the squint, (see Technical Insight #3), we must not doubt the verity of this and put the transition in as we see it.

Olive Trees at Corfu

Sargent’s “Olive Trees at Corfu” is another excellent example of the artist not being afraid to put the strongest edge on the farthest, most distant mountain, which visually had the sharpest edge.  Often we have heard that we must soften distant objects, but this is not always so.  How did he decide this edge relationship should be painted as such?  I am sure that is how it actually looked in its true relationship. Again, it is critical to squint to see the variety, accuracy, and contrast of the edges.  I would encourage you to study many of the great masters to see how their handling of edges brings their work to life.  Keep Squinting!!! 🙂

I have taken the time to extensively describe these edge principles in our videos for those interested in further explanation.  Click image to see more… Enjoy!

gerhartz videos

 

Thank you!

 

 

 


Technical Insights, Lessons from Sargent #2

Lessons from a Sargent #2

Upon further observation of this oil painting, what also caught my amazement in this portrait was Mr. Sargent’s use of color temperature to define and turn form instead value ( light and dark) in certain areas.

Sargent portrait #2

As I remember my own early artistic development and frequently witness it in others, there seems to be a progression to maturity in beginner’s work that follows this course in one form or another.  When one first identifies that there is a form change, their first assumption is that the transition is achieved with value only. Also, this is often overstated with a value shift that is too dark creating a sunken or overly dramatic change, not accurately representing the light quality. To more accurately accomplish this, either strictly using color temperature or coupled with the slightest value shift and temperature, the form change can be much more subtle and luminous.  Notice how Mr. Sargent achieved the beautiful spherical effect of the forehead by using peach tones on the frontal plane and ochre/olive tones on the far side of the forehead to spin the form with no value shift.  Absolutely beautiful!!! You will also see this happening on the bridge of the nose as it turns from (orange/pink) flesh tone to the more olive note on the far side.

The next stage in the progression is that the student recognizes the color transition, but overstates it, using bright blue or viridian greens to state the coolness to turn the form.  This was a great temptation for me early on. In the thrill of actually seeing the color change, I would overstate the transition, brandishing viridian so the whole world would see it too.  I am so drawn to the beauty of what Sargent has done achieving a stunningly simple, solid form with the subtlest of transitions both in value and color.

I have taken the time to extensively describe these color mixing principles in our videos for those interested in further explanation.  Click image to see more… Enjoy!

gerhartz videos

 

Thank you for your following!


Technical Insights…Lessons from a Sargent #1

Recently, I came across a simply stunning portrait of a gentleman by John Singer Sargent that captured my attention. Upon studying this painting, I was reminded of some simple lessons and it is my hope to share a few of these with you in the next few blog posts.

Sargent portrait

SIMPLICITY

 On first glance, I was struck by the solidity of form on the skull and the beauty and strength of the general mass of the simple form of the head. Notice that even apart from the facial features, the three-dimensionality stands out as truly believable.   The simple inverted teardrop (egg shape) form of the skull is not violated by the undulation of line on the far side of the face or the by varying line of his jowl.  On the near side of his face, the slight indication of the cheekbone, minimal accent on his temple, and dark accent under the chin create striking form within the simple values of the general light shape of the head.

Sargent portrait egg

Note that de-saturating the image gives greater clarity to the simple egg-like form that Mr. Sargent captured.  In my own experience, it is critical to remind myself CONTINUALLY throughout the painting to maintain this simplicity of form, taking every opportunity to physically step back or psychologically draw back from the detail that I may be consumed with.  It is so easy to lose sight of this concept as we begin to work on the detail of the features, trying to enhance the peripheral line of the face to “show more form”.  Also, critical throughout is the act of squinting continually to simplify the lights and darks to see the simple form emerge.  See “Technical Insight #3″ on squinting.

I look forward to sharing several more in the weeks to come!

These concepts and more are described in great detail in our video presentations. Click image to see more… Enjoy!

gerhartz videos

Good luck as you forge ahead!


“Rain, falling snow, wind… Technical Insight #28

In June of 1987, I embarked on my career as a full time fine artist.  Upon leaving the doors of the commercial art studio I was working at, my dear friend and co-worker Kenn Backhaus handed me a small metal plaque as a gift that has stayed with me through the years.  The inscription read as follows…

“Rain, falling snow, wind…all these things to contend with only make the open air painter love the fight.”      Walter Elmer Schofield

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Kenn and I had painted together many times dealing with the elements of rain, wind, mosquitos, hail, snow,etc… trying to come up with a worthy painting amidst the adverse conditions. This plaque has been screwed to the front of my french easel for years, reminding me that the effort is always worth the fight.

We are pleased to announce that our latest video, “The Beginning of Autumn” is now available at http://danielgerhartz.com

During this production, as you will see in the trailers, we had ample opportunity to work through the elements.  In this production you will see first hand how I worked through many of the challenges that face the open air painter as well as comprehensively talking through my thought process as the painting developed.  From a thorough explanation of materials to discussions about what truly ignites my passion for painting, this 6 hour presentation afforded me the time and opportunity to share my 25 years of painting experience. As is important to me whenever I teach,  great care was taken to explain the complex points of creating a successful painting in the simplest, most practical terms.  My thanks to Masoud Habibyan for the beautiful filming and precision editing.  Enjoy and great painting!

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Click DVD cover for more info….thank you!


Technical Insight #26 “In Her Care”

This work, as many of my other figurative outdoor paintings do, had a hybrid approach in regards to its execution.  As always, the best-case scenario is to complete the entire work from life, but because this is not always practical as was the case in this sunset scene, one must use whatever means appropriate to simply finish the work. “In Her Care” was begun from life and entirely blocked in on location.  All of the canvas was covered from life with the accurate tones and values that carried the sense of light.   I then continued the painting in the studio to refine the drawing and work the edges to turn the forms. Having said that, one must be careful not to make it a habit of this by only blocking in the subject or taking shortcuts as a general rule of technique.  Again, your BEST paintings will be when you are absorbing all of the stimuli of your senses and allowing them to work their way into your work.  This is only possible when standing before your subject.

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Because I knew that my time from life was going to limited in this work, there were several tonal transitions that I wanted to be sure to note and cover the canvas with while I was out with the subject. Some of the important observations I took note of were:

*Hierarchy in value tones.  (Sun the brightest, reflection of sun next, value of sky to follow, etc.…  Also noting the darkest dark from life. The photo wrongly recorded the distant trees almost as dark as the cat.)

*Color balance and cool influence on skin tones as they wrapped around the face and hair.

*Opalescent quality to the color in the water.

* Color balance in spring green tones. (Finding other colors within the green fields that balanced out the acid green that the photo recorded.)

*Noting the accurate color and value of the distant tree line.

This painting along with the close-up detail of the face and many of others of similar approach are depicted in our publication, “Not Far From Home”.

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Other good news from the studio…we are in the final phases of proofing the DVDs and BLURAYs before replication for our latest instructional video, “The Beginning of Autumn”!  Things are looking great and are we are anxious for its release hopefully in a month or so.  I am sorry for the long delay since my first announcement before Christmas.  We originally planned only for a digital download release, but realized the demand for a hard disc was too great to overlook and have spent the last months coordinating the production. We hope you enjoy it!  Please see another of the trailers below. Thanks much!

Enjoy!


Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #25

Nichols Creek …then and now

One of my winter rituals in landscape painting for the past ten years or so has been to visit a secluded glade which my brother Steve Gerhartz  first showed me.  Steve, an accomplished artist himself, has painted this location often and has been generous in sharing where his adventurous spirit leads him. This particular “bit of paradise” offers wandering streams that spring forth from the hillside as they descend through virgin cedar forest.  Endless angles and abstractions provide ample material for intriguing and inviting designs.

The invigoration of being surrounded by such beauty and experiencing the joy in trying to capture it on canvas bring to mind what my mentor and friend, Richard Schmid, once said to me while enjoying the experience of landscape painting, “We should be arrested for having this much fun while at work”.   His enthusiasm for the thrill of painting is truly memorable.

This past week I made the pilgrimage to our favorite spot and captured the afternoon sunlight in this new work, “The Scent of Cedars”, 24 x 40, oil on linen.

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The technical advice for this challenging work was to keep in mind the original intent of design and light as the moving shadows and spots of sunlight created a new composition every few minutes. If I had constantly chased the moving light and added spots here and there as they shifted, the composition would have been fragmented and less unified.  I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping in mind a solid design of lights and darks from the outset.  It is always helpful for me to produce a thumbnail sketch of this pattern, or if you are tech savvy, a digital sketch of the arrangement of shapes that you may refer to as you continue in the field.

Another snow scene entitled “Spring Fed”, painted in this same forest may be seen on page 101 of our book, “Not Far from Home”.  Enjoy!

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Just an update on the video, “The Beginning of Autumn” …  we were originally planning on releasing our latest video solely as a digital download but recently have felt it necessary to also offer it in DVD and possibly BluRay.  We are very close to production on that and hope to have things ready in a month or so.  Thanks for your patience!


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