Welcome to the Trevor Fine Art Blog. Here you will find how to instruction as well as insights into great art and artists. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back very often, because it will be updated often. Also be sure to check out my Website at TrevorFineArt.com.

You'll also fine some funny stuff here and political commentary.

Please see my comments under the welcome post below for more information and commenting guidelines.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The one secret of drawing.

"Tell me the secret I learn quickly".  I can not tell you the number of times I have heard that from people wanting to know the secret of how to draw.  So here it is. I hinted at it in my last post when I said I have drawn over 20,000 one minute drawing.

Peter Max
   Peter Max (of Beatles Yellow Submarine fame) said that his art   instructor  told him the secret to learning to draw was the to do least 100 drawings a day.

The fantastic illustrator and war artist John Groth  told me and his class that he hounded his instructor and even followed him home so that he would tell him the secret.  Finally the instructor said "look kid if you want to know the secret, never go to bed until you have done 100 drawings".  So there you have it. The secret to drawing is do 100 drawings a day.

Sure there a many other things to learn about drawing, but there are no short cuts, there are no tricks, it is just a matter of hard work. It is matter of putting in the time.  There is only one secret, and now you know it.  There is a lot that can be taught, but without the hard work all the teaching in the world won't help.

Up next we will look more closely at the elements of drawing one by one.

John Groth

John Groth
John Groth


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to: The advantage of drawing fast.

 This is my first how to draw post. There are a great deal of advantages to being able to draw fast.  One obvious one is when you are sketching people in public.  People in public don't often stand still in one pose and if they did it would be boring poses. In order to capture moving people you have to be able to draw fast.
But  more than that the best way to learn to draw is by  doing a lot of fast drawings.  I  have figured out that when I was at the Art Student's league I did at least 20,000 one minute drawings it is hard not to get better if you do that many drawings.  If you learn how to draw fast you will fine it much easier to draw when you do have the luxury of more time. If you only know how draw slowly you will have a much harder time of drawing when you don't have the time.

These were 1 minute drawings the top middle one was worked on after the pose.

You should approach a drawing that you know you have a  lot of time  to complete the same way you approach a drawing in which you have very little time. Start with a light sketch and then work it up to a more completed and accurate drawing going from large masses to smaller ones working all over. There are of course many other ways of working, but this way has several advantages. As you can see in the above drawing with the one minute poses complete one can work on the shading and detail after the model stops posing. However, if you say start with the head and work down, when the pose changes you have no where to go.  Another advantage is that working quickly breaths life into a drawing, see my post on Frans Hals for more on the breath of life in paintings. Another advantage is that even if you don't have time to finish your drawing the viewer still has an outline to look at.

Ok so how do you learn to draw fast.  Practice, practice, practice.  As I wrote above I've done at least 20,000 one minute drawings, you have to practice, try to find a sketch class near you where they do a lot of one minute drawings. Unfortunately unless you live in a big city this can be hard to do;  many people who go to sketch classes like longer poses, and think of short poses only as warm up.  So you might have to talk them into doing short poses.  At any rate always carry a sketch pad with you and sketch as many differant people as you can.

Next up I will tell you the one secret of learning to draw.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm sorry I am writing the Hals post but in the meantime I found This.

A cleaning lady cleaned up a sculpture made to look like a dried rain puddle. It is claimed it is worth $1.1 million. I think that the cleaning lady had a better idea of its worth.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Here as promised is my post on Frans Hals. Now, remember I warned you that even some of my art posts are likely to be controversial so you have been warned.
In my not so humble opinion Frans Hals and Rembrandt are almost unrivaled as the greatest portrait artists of of all time. Oh I can hear you screaming  and you aren't even in the room.  "What about Sargent, what about this guy what abut this other guy." Ok  I agree Sargent had a lot of technical skill, so to me it just boils down to taste.  So this post is about what it is about Frans Hal that I like.
Franz Hals The Merry Drinker  From The Art Renewal center
 This painting says it all. To me this painting is the essence of painting. It says everything that needs to be said without saying too much.  We follow the shadow up the left arm and up the face.  The face is just so  magnificently painted we instantly get the essence of the sitter. This is such a free and lose painting it doesn't get bogged down in detail, it isn't overly concerned about exactness, yet the whole character  of the subject comes through.  Look at how simply the hands are drawn and painted. 

You can not tell this on a computer screen, but when you see a Frans Hal in real life, as you move away from the painting it becomes more and more into focus.   The right hand in this painting would look very realistic if viewed from a distance.   Also notice how extraordinarily beautiful the light is.  Notice how the shadow moves you around the painting, while the light is spotted in a few areas where Hal wants you to look.

This painting is clearly of someone moving, this merry drinker  isn't going to be holding that pose for very long.  One gets that feeling of movement not just from the pose, but also from how freely this is painted. Now days that feeling of movement might be shown by the blur of a camera lens or the lines that one sees in cartoons.  But this style captures the movement without being gimmicky.  

It is that movement that bring this painting alive. This is not a static rendition of a person who has been sitting for a portrait for six weeks. This is a painting that is breathing life, just as its subject is a living breathing person. Through its looseness and movement of shadows this painting lives.

Hals also uses color to breath life into his painting. One can see it the red checks of the subject.   There are other Hals paintings where it is more pronounced, but here too the colors in the face breath life into it. It is clear this is a real person and not a mannequin.

Another reason why I don't care for  paintings that look too much like photographs is that they often take all the life out a painting.  This painting makes me think I  could  walk into the  painting and shake hands with the drinker and he would  slap me on the back and invite me to join him at the bar, it is that alive, it looks like he could reach out and grab my arm and say come on in.  To me a painting with life says so much more than a painting that is  just technically accurate.
Franz Hals  breathed life into his painting better than any other artist I  know of, that is what makes him great to me.

Coming up I  plan to show you how drawing can come alive or be pushed to death. Please check back for that and a lot more.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What make a great painting?

Peter Paul Rubens Descent from the Cross [detail: center panel] From Art Renewal Center

Naturally this post is a lot of opinion, but it is opinion based on a lot of study. One of my favorite artist is Peter Paul Rubens. The painting above shows many of the elements that I think make a great painting. These elements include composition, light and shade movement, color and great drawing.  In future posts I will discuss these elements in much more detail. For now I'll just touch on these in order to take closer look at a how these elements work together to make a great painting.

When I look at the above painting the first thing I notice is the movement of light and shade, also know as chiaroscuro. Notice I did not say just "light and shade," but "the movement of light and shade." Chiaroscuro is not just  a contrast of light with shade, but the switching of light and shade. In other words in some  places the subject is lighter than the background, in other places it is darker, this helps create movement, one's eye does not stop idly on just one spot, it moves. In great art one's eye moves throughout the painting. 

Notice that in the painting above you eye tends to enter at the bottom near the leg of the person in red, this is in part because of the composition, which we will get to, and in part because of the dark areas on each side of the leg.  The viewer's eye then follows the light on the red rob up to Christ, the subject of this painting, where it rests for a while, but Rubens wants us to know that there is more to this painting than just Christ,  the light leads us farther up to the man holding Christ's arm.   From there the light leads us down the figures on the left  side and finally to the figures at the bottom.  But it never lets us out, there are no really light areas near the edge of the painting.

The composition, how things are arranged and shaped, reinforces the travel of the eye through this picture created by the pattern of light. The pattern of light  by the entrance foot is shaped like an arrow leading the viewer in. Then the long shape of the red robe draws the viewer up. The arrow shape of the cloth Christ is on and the position of his left arm leads us farther up and to the right.  Less we are drawn  all the way up and out of the painting, Rubens places the cross piece of the cross and the chest of a man  here, at the top end of the cloth.  You can't go too far off to the right  here because the man's bent arm brings you back.  Your eye then follow the cloth across. The next man then  holds the cloth at a right angle forming a triangle. This is counteracted by a triangle formed by the cross. Christ's right arm and the arms and body positions of the people on the left repeat this triangle shape. The legs of the figures  at the bottom left  thrust to the right thus reinforcing the idea that your eyes should enter this  painting from the leg of the man in red.

At first this painting doesn't look very colorful and compared to modern paintings we are used to seeing, it isn't. However, there are subtle colors,  the green  and purples of the  robes in the  figures on the left and the blue of the robe of the figure behind them, and the red robe we have talked about. By  keeping most of the other colors subtle, one thing Rubens does is attract our eye once again to the red robe, and up and into the painting. The warmer (closer to red) colors of the green and purple robes help to separate them from the blue behind them, as does the reddish and blond hair of the women on the left.  Warm colors  give the illusion of coming forward, while cool colors give the illusion of receding into the picture plane. The overall look of this painting is warm. giving it  a harmonious feel.  A good painting should take advantage of the different properties of color while maintaining the over all feel. In this painting Rubens does that masterfully.

There is of course a lot more to what makes a great paining  great, and each of these elements is far more complex than what I have touched on here. In coming posts I'll go into  much greater detail, about  the elements of painting, but this should give you a fair introduction to what we will be touching on.  For those of you who came here for the FREE art lessons and expected a how to demonstration, have no fear that will be coming up soon too. But, there is a lot to learn by studying the great masters, and if you can't learn from  Rubens, who can you learn from?

Please check back often there is a lot more to come. Next up: Frans Hal. Oh boy this should be fun.