Hi and welcome back to another video demonstration. Color, shape and value is a very important, basic and very fundamental trinity of elements that work very closely together. For any color has an inherent value of lightness, or tone. Shape cannot be omitted either, as any use of color results in a shape – be it a random smudge, dot, line, in other words, any color mark regardless of its level of sophistication. These are the very basics of painting but sometimes we struggle to connect these concepts. Taking this understanding to the next level produces a sense of pattern. Once we grasp the concept of overall patterns or rhythms, we can look for them in our own paintings or search for them in the masterpieces of the past. Hopefully, in time, we will become working in reverse to what is natural to us at first and look for pattern before making an actual painting. Eventually we will learn that pattern is the key and ignoring it poses huge risks to our success in producing good and consistent work output.

However, my main intention in this article is not to provide an extensive analysis of each of these topics but rather bring these issues to your attention and point out the connections, so hopefully you’ll be able to recognize the bigger picture. I’m focusing on each of them on my blog in my written lessons, which are very detailed and feature a number of examples and diagrams that complement the written word. I will also include these in more detail in my upcoming book. Today’s video lesson is to demonstrate these connections on an actual painting. If more depth of explanation or illustration is required, feel free to search the blog for related topics, click the articles mentioned below or leave a comment with your inquiry down in the comment section. I’ll be happy to get back to you with more recommendations tailored to your preferences.

The Demonstration


©2017 Daniel Novotny. Watercolor on Paper, 11 x 15 in.
©2017 Daniel Novotny. Watercolor on Paper, 11 x 15 in.

As you could see from watching the video, technique-wise today’s panting was made in the most direct manner possible. This way each shape is made with absolute control of its appearance, both of color, value and dimensions. This approach may be a double-edged sword in certain situations but I find it to be a very powerful tool in assuring a bold statement. The audacity of making direct, final marks from the very beginning forces us to think in terms of shapes. You cannot get away from it when your first stroke is your final stroke.

You can also notice that I don’t draw on the paper beforehand and start directly on a clean sheet of paper, relying on estimation to establish my first “point of contact”. Once the initial mark is established, it serves as a new frame of reference and the relationships are no longer copied from the original reference but evolve from this point onward. Now is the time to react to what’s happening on the page. The original reference becomes obsolete. The task is to react to the current, new reference and not copy the relationships from the original reference further but to extract an essence of the relationships and recreate it as a new entity.

On the first glance, this approach may be mistaken for lack of preparation but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you tried this approach yourself, which I highly recommend as an exercise, you’d notice that your first stroke is going to be the hardest and you may feel stuck and frozen. I absolutely feel the same way oftentimes when I begin this way. It is only natural, for the initial stroke is you anchor around which you’ll recreate the new reality. Without it you don’t have any point of reference. Therefore you must find you balance anew. This can be, certainly, a very demanding but also liberating experience. Ofttimes an actual physical rush can be felt as a manifestation of the demands of this approach.

I already covered this technique previously in another video lesson from a slightly different angle. If you’re interested to find out more you can click on the following link.

It is very important to understand shape well as it is the very basic building block of any painting. My recent article explains and illustrates how shape works in an environment of a painting extensively and also makes a point of reading the painting in its entirety.

A very intensive discussion on pattern is coming to my blog in the near future but for now I recommend you to revisit my previous posts where pattern is discussed intentionally and plays a major role:

I hope these ideas along with the process of painting today’s painting were helpful to you and shed some light on the complexity of the design problems we face as artist. If you have any questions feel free to post them below.


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