Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Design, color and the painting/Pierre Bonnard

6x18 pastel on somerset
This is just a study in shapes/masses.  It is done completely from memory, not photos, no plein air pieces.
Reducing the landscape to just value makes you think only in terms of shape and design. What does it take to make a pleasing design of positive and negative shapes? One of my favorite ways to find out is to play with one pastel and two erasers.  With these I work back and forth:I make shapes, then I gradually carve out my shapes. I repeat the process till satisfied.
Long ago,  Pierre Bonnard was my absolute favorite painter. He is the ultimate colorist. I was fortunate in that the Phillips Gallery in DC has an abundance of his beautiful giant, color filled paintings. I would go see them each week. These important words from the master have stayed in my mind, "Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it." Below are two paintings by Bonnard in the Phillips Gallery.  
Bonnard's words are the same as Richard McKinley's words, "Value does the work color gets the glory." So why do we so often by pass making notans and sketches? My lesson today, slow down and enjoy the process.

14 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

That bottom one by PB is the bomb. Love it.

What is Somerset like? Id it sized? Rough? I really went right to your image - I am also a fan of the eraser on charcoal, myself. Never tried it on a pastel monocrome. I also like your high perspective.

loriann said...

Hi Casey,
PB's work is absolutely beautiful in person. I really think you would love it. Vuillard is also right p there with him. They hang together in the Phillips.
Somerset is a soft rag paper (100%cotton) which is typically used for printmaking. It is softer and thinner than the BFK I usually use. It accepts a lot of pastel and abuse from erasers. I like the way a dark pastel, like sepia works for erasing. I think it is much richer than charcoal. Try it and tell me what you think. I like using it in the same way I do a wipe off in oil.
Thanks about my drawing.

Maggie Latham said...

Loriann, You will laugh at this…. I did a double take when the little tiny thumbnail of your blog post popped up on my dashboard…as I thought it was one of my recent graphite sketches! OK, so I have my glasses on now and can clearly see that it is Loriann’s Key Bridge in a beautiful rendition of sepia. Did you deliberately crop out your usual big sky…. or did you paint a big sky and crop it out? This crop gives an interesting dynamic from your previous KB. Since Jan first I have been sketching everyday, mostly from memory, sometimes from photo reference and sometimes from life…it is the best tonic! One of my passions is painting in monochrome (watercolour)…not just Notan type studies, but tiny paintings/studies in value and tone. I teach a class on this and it is one of my favourites.

loriann said...

Hi Maggie, yes it was a very deliberate crop of my sky. I always prefer long vertical or square, so I did the opposite, the uncomfortable... or maybe it reflects my physical state now. This has been a very hard week. I can't lift my right arm (because of the cuts into my muscle on that side of my torso), so a long horizontal makes more sense. Just glide across straight.
I used the pencil sketch created yesterday to decide the design. It is only about design...no reference so it is only the abstract that matters. It probably looks nothing like Key Bridge by now, but it doesn't matter.I look forward to color.

Caroline said...

Gosh I hope you are not over doing things Loriann with that right arm of yours. Could you try left hand work? I know that may sound strange but a while back I had a sore shoulder and did some painting with my left hand so I could rest my right arm. Then of course there are the artists who paint with a brush in their mouth, you got to admire them but they do some incredible work, I had some greeting cards off them at Christmas. Beautiful tonal drawing Loriann I thought it was a famous tonal artist's work from your tonal book!

loriann said...

Hi Caroline, It's hard to deny habit. I do with my right and then hurt immediately after. I am trying to use my left arm more. I had a similar experience to yours (long ago) and learned to paint theater scenery with my left hand. So I know I can do it. Right now I will think small, since that is my energy level. Thanks so much for your concern and support.
Thanks also for you compliment..you got a smile out of me with that one. (I wish)

Sally Veach said...

Dear Lorianne,
I have been away from the blogosphere for what seems like a long time. So just found out about your lung surgery! You have my most sincere wishes for a speedy and complete recovery! Take it easy on your body--pamper yourself! You deserve every bit of pampering! I love your memory paintings, and your great dedication to making art.

Double "D" said...

B, you are tireless! Love the value study ... now go to bed. Hey remember when you told me to try left handed. Ahhhh, it didn't work.
Take care B'
pb

Anonymous said...

dear lorianne,
all my best wishes for your recovery. i feel the left handed work right now, could be interesting for you. take a break and just go with the discomfort of your recovery. i am presently taking that advice for myself. also bonnard is one of my favorite painters next to cezanne, and i wonder why you write that he 'was' your favorite. when ever i meet him in the phillips it is happening in the present for me. and he shows me something new each time. i like that i get disoriented in his work. and then found again. i am enjoying your blogging commitment, and hope that you take care of you. i know your followers will be here still, because you bring so much to your blog.

Lynne E. Windsor said...

I agree with Caroline, I thought the latest pastel was from the tonal book. Very nice and I love the more horizontal/panoramic composition. Would make a great etching. REST! Love Bonnard and Vuillard... saw a great show a couple of years ago at the RA.

Brian McGurgan said...

Beautiful value study, Loriann - it's great watching these Key Bridge images evolve. Out of curiosity, why two erasers? Are you using different types for varying effects or are they just getting loaded with pastel dust so fast having two handy is more efficient? I'm looking forward to being in the water class together, and to doing some value studies for the assignments in the coming weeks. I might use black Conté for these, or maybe a few types of charcoal...

Donna T said...

Stunning drawing, Loriann! The two big land masses connected by the delicate, graceful bridge make such a strong composition. I know this could look good in any number of color combinations but it's so beautiful just as it is. Keep healing and don't over do it.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

'Where there's a will, there's a way' sprung to mind when I read your reply to Maggie. I confess I chuckled - you are unstoppable! We'll know you are better when you post long tall pictures again ;o) On a serious note... do take care of yourself.
Looking at your beautiful pastel again the lightest ground mass made me think of someone lying down arms outstretched... like when you make a snow angel. It won't be long before you can do that again. Best wishes.

loriann said...

Hi everyone, Sorry about the delay in responding. Yesterday as a long day at the doctors (again). I feel asleep for hours upon my return. I am eager to get my usual hamster energy back.

Hi Sally, Welcome back, I am on the mend. Good to hear from you again.

PB, my man, I did exactly what you said. (go to bed) Now I am beginning to work left handed. Can't just tell others to try, right...silly me.

Hi Anonymous, Ahhhh, Bonnard. I must admit to passing fascinations with certain artists. Right now my loves are Whistler and Inness. Many more to numerous to name. Bonnard will always have a special place in my heart. Thanks you for all of your kind words. It's always nice to hear my small contribution helps others.

How sweet Lynne, You and Caroline have made my day...I often think of getting back to etching. Bonnard and Vuillard, don't they make you drool!?

Hi Brian,
Thank you. I use two different kind of erasers- the stretchy kneaded on for large massing and the more solid white one for lines and tight spaces. See you soon with water!

Hi Donna, Funny things have happened with the color studies...I will post later. Always good to hear from you.

Hi Lisa, Funny that is just what my Mom used to say...where there is a will there is a way. Can't wait for my days with snow angels. I finally found a physical therapist that specializes with my needs. I am excited that I am another step closer. Thanks for your constant support!