I tried to paint like Matisse again by taping my brushes onto yardsticks and standing way back from the paper to paint. It’s fun! I had some problems with this painting, though. Not the yardsticks, the pink.
It’s impossible to mix this color. I tried every combination of the colors I had and put the painting aside because it was dull. That’s the one drawback about oil paint. When you mix colors you lose chroma (brightness). Eventually I went to the art supply store and bought a tube of “amethyst” by Michael Harding for $24. An expensive tube of paint, but I’ll need it in the spring when I try to paint some redbud trees.
You can avoid losing as much chroma as you might if you only mix your colors on the palette with a palette knife instead of mixing colors on the canvas with a brush. You also need a brush for each color. And you can avoid losing as much chroma if you build up layers of transparent glazes and let the viewer’s eye do the mixing. But the modern art way of avoiding loss of chroma is to not mix the colors at all. Just use the paint straight out of the tube!
When I put the painting on hold for a few days and went back to it, the petals and leaves were different so I had to kind of just wing it on top of my underpainting. This close up shows some fun leaf squiggles, smears and lines and blobs.
For the art viewer who likes to look at brush strokes, you might be able to see my layers, first the thin layer of underpainting and on top of that the thicker paint of the final layer.
I realized how I’m making the veins in the paint. It’s something I do without thinking, and big round brushes are ideal for this. You load up the brush with paint then go at it from the side of the brush, rolling the brush as you draw it across the paper or canvas. I hope you know what I mean. I should get someone to video tape me doing the brush roll thing, maybe you already do that if you paint. When I realized I was rolling the yardstick I thought I’m getting the hang of this.
This is the unfinished painting on the easel with the flower. I went larger than life. Larger is easier especially when you have your brushes taped to yardsticks.
I’m trying again to paint like Matisse by taping my brushes onto yard sticks and standing back from the painting. When I start to paint like this it’s always awkward for a few minutes because it’s hard to control the brush from a yard away, then it gets a little easier and it’s fun. I can’t tell if it’s improving my skill or not. I’ll have to try it a few more times then look back some time in 2021 and compare my paintings, see which ones to keep and how they look compared to painting at a normal distance.
This is a focal point, green dashes next to red lines on the dark background where some of the black paper is showing through.
I went over the whole paper twice. The poinsettia I painted last week was only one layer of paint and finished in one day. This time I painted the flower, and the gray blue background. When I stopped and looked at it I thought it wasn’t bright enough. The alizarin crimson is a transparent color and one coat didn’t cover the black paper enough. You can see the layers of reds in this photo. I waited for it to dry one day before going over it again.
Here’s a little hairy red smear that doesn’t need to be fixed on top of a red smear over green. oops,
If you don’t mix your paint colors on the paper by deliberately blending with your brush, you can get some overlap of complimentary colors with wet paint smearing together and you don’t instantly get a muddy color. Just leave well enough alone. I hope that makes sense. It might give the viewer’s eye something to focus on if they like to look into the brush strokes.
This is another focal point, bright next to dark, red next to green, small next to large strokes.
This is my unfinished painting on my table with the flower, my sewing machine behind it.
I’m blocking the sliding glass doors to my balcony with the table but this is a North light so the shadows don’t change all day. It’s not a direct light. The balcony of the apartment above mine is blocking the light then there’s trees on the other side of a fence also blocking the light. It looks like plenty of light in this photo but I felt like I was painting in the dark. I could hardly see what I was doing until I had the background started, especially on the black paper.
The reds in the photo aren’t the same as real life, but you get the idea.
I was having some fun painting like Matisse by taping my brushes onto yard sticks and standing back from the painting. You have to give up some control over the brush because it goes where you don’t want it to go but that’s ok. It gives the painting a loose modern look. Fast, loose, unfinished, spontaneous, that look is what the modern art world prizes the most. A finished painting is looked at as being “labored over” which is ungood. I’m not really feeling pressure to paint modern. I’ll go back to doing finished paintings. I got so modern painting this yesterday, I didn’t even sketch it first, just started slapping paint on paper.
This is a close up of the flower’s center features, I’m not sure what you call the little parts, and a stem.
I painted it on the back of a figure drawing that was on black paper. I’m enjoying painting on paper and I like to use both sides. You can see the black paper showing through here. Then I wanted to tone down the black a little so I went into the background with gray trying not to mess up my edges and smears of the reds. In traditional painting you paint the background first but in modern art you can do it last if you want to.
I might give this another try on another piece of paper. Look, Ma, I’m a fauve!
That’s metallic gold oil paint stick on watercolor paper with watercolor paint. When I’m trying to do an abstract painting I don’t know how to proceed, or how to start at all. So I stole this idea from one of my favorite artists, Matisse. He taped his brush to the end of a yardstick and stood far back from the paper. You have less control of your drawing. Lines go where you don’t want them and you can’t erase with oil paint sticks. this is an exercise for artists who want to loosen up their work.
I hear that a lot, loosen up, and I don’t think it’s really necessary to follow the trend and draw and paint loose and fast. But I do kind of enjoy taping my charcoal or a paintbrush or in this case, my oil paint stick, to a yardstick. I could knock out a whole bunch of these in one day!
This photo shows how I set it up. I taped the paper to the board to protect the wall in case I went off the edges with the oil paint stick. I taped my charcoal sketch from last week above it and didn’t bother transferring the original sketch to the paper first. I just started in drawing with the oil paint stick on the white paper freehand. That should add to the abstraction.
That little stub taped to the yardstick is my gold paint stick. From where I was standing I couldn’t see the end of the thing on the paper. It’s too stubby. Drawing and not being able to see what you’re doing also makes it more abstract. Some artists like to sketch without looking at the paper. There are a few tricks you can use to get an abstract look. The brush on a stick technique is fun.
The first photo I posted was taken inside on my work table. I like it because it shows the gold reflecting. This photo was taken on my patio in natural light.
I think I have time to do another. I want to use my white oil paint stick on watercolor paper. That will be impossible to see what I’m doing. I might do just the head.
It’s raining here today so I enjoyed staying home and finishing this painting. I did the sketch weeks ago in plein air and painted at home ala Matisse, with my paint brushes taped to yard sticks, so I was standing back from the canvas and trying to control my brushes, which don’t always go where I want them to from a yard away.
I’m not going 100% modern on this painting since I used my Maroger medium and black to make the dark green grey of the trees. But I am going more modern by using my big brushes taped to yardsticks.
At art school, long ago, they told us to use black. The old masters used it, so it works ok if you use black like they did. And more modern artists, even Manet and others of his era used black successfully. To make a black that isn’t dead they told us to mix equal parts Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. The Ultramarine Blue is your darkest cool color and the Burnt Umber is your darkest warm color so you get a neutral black. If you need a warm or cool gray you can mix any other color into this black. We also were taught to use gray in glazes and if you layer warm colors over cool colors, or cool over warm, after waiting for the first glaze to dry, you don’t get muddy colors but the viewers eye mixes the colors.
Sometimes you can’t just throw away the lessons of the old masters. I like to use the best ideas from the old and the new. Painting like Matisse, with the brush taped to a yardstick is fun and freeing. I’ll get out to draw and paint in plein air again real soon, but I got distracted by bad weather and other fun art projects to do indoors. So, I was glad to finally finish this painting after waiting weeks for the background to dry.
Don’t you just love to see fall leaves backlit? With the sun shining through the leaves the tree looks like it’s plugged in and turned on!
I wish I was a better photographer because this is brighter in person than my picture makes it look.
I was standing on the shady side of the tree and I could see the branches but on the other sunny side of the tree all you see is a skirt of leaves.
This is another try at painting like Matisse in my quest to understand more styles of art than the traditional, which is what I was indoctrinated into at art school. I taped my paint brushes onto yardsticks and stood back to paint it. It’s fun and this time I felt like I had more control over my brushes than before. I’m still mixing different styles together in this painting. I did some glazing, which Matisse probably didn’t do. And I used gray even though most modern artists don’t like to use it. Matisse wanted his paintings to reflect some kind of emotion, but I’m not feeling very emotional these days. If I was to represent any emotion it would have to be my love of this tree.
This photo shows my canvas hanging on the wall over a piece of packing material and a piece of checkered vinyl to protect the wall from my paint when my paint brush taped to the stick goes off. You can see my sketches taped up too. I did my sketches and mixed up my colors in plein air on the path by the tree, but the canvas was too large for that narrow path so I painted it at home ala Matisse.
This was the first step, the background. I didn’t do an underpainting, which is the traditional way. This background took over a week to dry because when you paint with the brushes taped to a stick the paint goes on thicker. After I looked at this while it was drying, I decided to kill the brightness a little so the background wouldn’t compete with the tree. I wanted it to fade back a little, so when it was dry I put a thin glaze of white over the yellow and green. I think glazing with oil paint is verboten in modern art styles. Once a juror that rejected a painting I entered said, “Don’t mix different styles together.” I needed to do a glaze here. So much for dumb art rules.
They said the mind seeks balance but we shouldn’t make a balanced composition because when the viewer’s eye sees balance it’s instantly bored and moves on to the next thing.
The way to create imbalance is with focal points. An odd number of focal points is more interesting than an even number because the viewer’s eye will keep going around the canvas. If there’s only one focal point the viewer’s eye will go to it and stop right there. Also, don’t put a focal point dead center on the canvas. That makes a static composition.
Focal points can be created in different ways by using contrast such as complimentary colors or value contrasts, or by making sharp detail on an otherwise blurry painting.
I find composition to be a difficult part of painting and cutting my shapes out of paper and arranging them like Matisse helped me plan this painting. I’m getting a lot of inspiring ideas from Matisse this summer.
About this painting : The path through the Japanese garden is too narrow for me to stand up my easel. I’d have been blocking the other visitors so I took a few pastels and did my sketches on my small sketchbook because I don’t need my easel to hold it and I can easily back out of the way if people want to walk through. I did the painting at home using Matisse’s method of taping my paintbrush onto a yardstick and standing back from the canvas to paint. I’ve tried the brush on a stick method a few times and it still seems awkward. It’s hard to control the brush. I have to hover the brush over the canvas and when I make contact with the canvas in the right general area I want to paint, I kind of roll it. After I get the general shape I’m trying to do, I can get some brush strokes on it. I want to keep practicing this brush on a stick thing. Maybe it will get easier if I practice.
The paint is thick so I’ll have to wait till later this week to paint the flowers. I’m not sure what Matisse’s oil painting technique was. He liked to put his paintbrush on the end of a long pole and stand way back from his canvas so I’m practicing that. It’s hard to control the brush. I think the practice is supposed to make the artist “loosen up”.
The other times I tried to paint with my brush on a yardstick I didn’t use medium. I painted on a dry tinted canvas and I’m not used to the brush having so much drag on the canvas. That, plus the brush on a stick made it a strange experience. I guessed Matisse probably didn’t paint in the couch like I was taught to do, so I didn’t use my Maroget medium. Painting in the couch is when you paint a thin layer of medium on the dry canvas and paint your colors on top of the medium. It makes a slick surface for your brush and it’s easy to use glazes or paint with thick texture. This time I decided to use my Maroget medium and paint in the couch to make it a little easier to control my brush on a stick. To use medium or not to use medium, that is the question.
I doubt if I’ll be able to stay true to any one style. There’s so many that I like and I only steal the good ideas. Plus, I don’t have all the info on Matisse’s technique. It doesn’t matter. Rules don’t apply to me.
These are my sketches for the lotus painting. The eight smaller papers are my pastel sketches from the Japanese garden at Norfolk botanical where I hung around on eight different days for a couple hours. The three larger papers are my enlargements of my leaf sketches done by taping a sharpie on a yardstick like Matisse. You can see my scribbles where the sharpie went off on it’s own.
Then I cut out the leaf shapes and arranged them on my canvas different ways to decide the composition. That’s something Matisse enjoyed doing. He cut shapes out of colored paper and arranged them. The arranging part is where I got hung up for a while.
I have to sketch my flowers again on tracing paper and figure out how many I can fit on the painting. I don’t want to crowd them because they’re not crowded in nature. Maybe only three on my 18 x 24 canvas. I did a lot of sketches I won’t use and will never frame but that’s ok. It isn’t about the finished piece, it’s about the process. The questions answered, the new experience, the practice. Know what I mean?
That painting I did last week was sooooo bad. How bad was it? Matisse rolled over. I tossed it.
They don’t give any information about technique in my Matisse book. It’s trial and error here. At least no one will ever say I fear failure. I’m learning something about fauvism by trying to copy the style. This is what I got so far.
Fauve means wild animal so my painting should be bold. Last week I was hesitant so I daubed. Matisse would h8 that. This time I was more deliberate with my brush strokes.
In fauvism you’re supposed to convey an emotion with your color choices. I hope I can do that. Imagine Diana, goddess of the hunt. She represents the feminine ideals of independence and chastity. She can kill her own food so she doesn’t need to rely on some god to bring dinner home and she’s better off without being in a relationship with some god because those guys cause all kinds of mischief fooling around with mortals and chasing nymphs etc. She’s alert and at peace with nature. She’s strong. I hope I can capture her attitude.
Trying to paint in a style I’m not used to is challenging. I’ll try again. If you know anything about it please advise me. Thanks for the likes on that last post which was a really horrible painting. I appreciate the support.
It seems a little ironic that my first subject to try fauvism is Diana because she’s the goddess of the hunt and fauve means wild animal.
Matisse said you should use color to express emotion and I thought he!!, I’m not emotional. Then I remembered the plaque at the museum said Diana represents the feminine ideals of independence and chastity so I thought about those things when I was working on it and picked colors I like to work with.
Yesterday when I got home from sketching at the museum I knew my sketch wasn’t right. I wanted to correct it but not go back to the museum so I taped my sketch to the wall and taped a piece of charcoal to a yardstick so I could stand back and do it again. The first try I taped a sharpie to the yardstick and that sketch looked real bad. Almost human. So I tried charcoal and got this sketch which looked better than the sketch from the museum. You can see places where my charcoal on a stick went somewhere on it’s own.
I tried two more but this one was the best so I used it for my painting. I’ll do the charcoal on a stick practice again. I’m pretty sure Matisse did it thousands of times. It’s good to stand back from what you’re working on and you can’t really focus on any certain little thing too well. It seems like you have to draw a bunch of lines and pick the one you want.
Here’s a few fauve portraits for you. The one on the left is Matisse, Madame Matisse. Then portrait of Matisse by Andre Derain. Then portrait of Derain by Maurice Vlaminck. On the right is portrait of Vlaminck bu Andre Derain.
It looks like your sketch doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. That’s a nice thing about fauvism. I don’t know if mine fits in with this fauvism thing but it was kind of fun and easy to do. I’ll probably do another one from a marble bust.
An interesting story about Matisse is that he cofounded an art school with some other artists but he didn’t want to be paid because he didn’t want it to be an obligation. He went on Sat. and did the critiques. He must have been a harsh critic because another teacher said it took him all week to build up the confidence of the students and on Sat. Matisse would destroy it.
On the first day of school the students were so excited to do fauvism they hung all their bright fauve paintings in the room and when Matisse came in he was mad and told them to take all that garbage down. Then he made them sketch busts! The students were not happy.