Switching gears from pastel, my focus this week has been on preparations for the upcoming "Intermediate Watercolor Workshop". Having taught many workshops over the past few years, the topic for this class is design and composition, featuring simple still-life subjects and cast shadows. Though I realize, pigeons represent more of an un-still life subject. However, the principles still apply for the purposes of this class.
The challenge...finding a unique, unusual perspective of the subject, possibly even abstracted, considering composition design structures, interesting value shapes, positive and negative space shapes.
One method I use for doing this is to simplify the reference, focusing on the areas that draw my attention, catch my eye, or trigger an emotion. I will often squint my eyes to minimize the shapes so I can see the simplified values and shapes...walk around the subject, using a viewfinder or camera to crop the image...and the finally, sketch various compositions.These small sketches will serve as "tests" for the design and composition. Here I am considering how I will you break up the space, what is the most interesting and pleasing arrangement or perspective of the positive and negative shapes, am I going to use a design structure for my composition, how does the light move across the forms, etc.
The "test" is where most of the decision making gets done...if something doesn't work...no worries...I'm not committed or married to the composition...just trying it out.Workshop participants are welcome to work through a few of these sketches prior to class. We will spend a good part of the morning looking at your subjects, finding interesting compositions and considering design elements. Below are a few other examples of subjects that work well for this challenge or follow the link to see some examples from a similar class earlier in the year.
And for those of you in class who just love to paint florals (as I do)...another example.