Normally I post information about stuff Corel Painter or Wacom Tablet related, as well as tutorials on how to do stuff. Well, today, I thought you might be interested in seeing what leads up to a post about how to do stuff. Confused? Me too.
I am saying that before a post, I have to do a lot of paintings. Some are successful and others not so successful; it is all part of the process. During this preliminary painting, I am making brushes and tweaking the process. If you have followed the blog, then you know I love Asian style paintings, especially Chinese brush work and Japanese Sumi-e. I’ve never been trained in either, just read a few books, watched a lot of You Tube tutorials, and practiced myself.
I have to admit that I love the practice. I find it relaxing. But, I’m sure working digitally is vastly different in feeling from working traditionally. And please, I don’t want to get into a discussion on the pros and cons of working traditionally versus digitally. For me, they are two different media and really are not comparable. Both are equally valid and creative. I do find it interesting that I cannot find folks working in this style digitally.
Recently I discovered the work of Gao Xingjian, who according to Wikipedia “is a Chinese émigré novelist, playwright, and critic who in 2000 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity.” I do not know anything about his writing; I discovered his traditional visual art. Do take a look at Gao Xingjian on Artnet or google the images of Gao Xingjian.
I cannot describe his work, or at least, I cannot describe his work in a way that does it justice. It is contemplative, and that is what I do when looking at his work. I sit quietly with my thoughts and enjoy.
With the work of Gao Xingjian as my inspiration, I tried my hand at digital ink or watercolor washes. The first image isn’t like his work at all; I was just trying out a few brushes and looking at the way the media flowed. I was using some of my custom brushes. I already knew how they behave when working in my normal manner, but now I am looking for a different look and feel from the same brushes. I am not sure that makes sense. In one case, I am looking at how the paint flows and blends together smoothly, but in another painting I am looking for the flow to crash into paint already applied and disrupt it, not blend with it. The action is at first accidental, but with practice is controllable.
The first image isn’t complete…it is a simple sketch that was never meant to be seen, but I am going to show it. I may regret this, but here goes.
I liked the grainy quality of the variant and the way the paper affects its flow. Stylistically, I was not showing much influence by Gao Xingjian. I tried again, but I turned my paper horizontally. I went wild. I tried multiple brushes, I splashed, I scratched, I played, and I got this.
I loved areas of the image, but it disappointed overall. It seemed scattered and too busy. My next attempt was very different. I changed my paper to one of my suminagashi papers that I used in the post Corel Painter X3 SP1, New Flower Brushes…Loads of Fun. The landscape that unfolded surprised me, and I wish I had left it alone, but I didn’t. I decided to add a tree and a bit of grass, which I do not think works.
Horizontal Landscape 3 started out nicely. I liked the mountain landscape, which I made with 2 strokes, but alas…it seemed too simple and I had to add the bamboo, which did not help. I added a signature chop and supposedly my name. The chop I designed and for my name, I found a web site that would create the calligraphy. At this point, I must tell you, that these paintings represent the paintings that I saved, there were many more deleted attempts.
In the next attempt, I did not add anything and left the first wash alone. I allowed the paint to flow into different paper textures and I used wetter brushes to disrupt areas. I thought Hanging Landscape represented my first success.
I took another look at Gao Xingjian’s work and compared it to mine. That was a laugh. I had none of the power, emotions, or strength showing in his work. But, I had to let that go. I just needed to plug along…after all, his work was my inspiration, I wasn’t trying to copy him. I hoped I would develop something of my own from this exercise. I decided to go back to the vertical format and work with the concept of a tree from the beginning. I had added trees as an after thought instead of making them part of the original idea of the painting. I did two quick attempts with trees as the original idea.
I liked the background of Tall Dark Tree, but the tree, itself, seemed too much. I tried again, but I kept the tree small.
I wasn’t pleased with the overall composition of Tall Pine with Mountain Hint, but I was getting stoked by the watercolor effects. I especially liked the area at the base of the trees that is running. That is pretty cool and an amazing testament of the power of Painter’s watercolor. I also loved the distant mountains. I decided to go back to a horizontal format and play a bit with the watercolor functions and a cityscape emerged.
I do like the watercolor effects, but overall I thought this painting was a step backward. Going backward isn’t always a bad thing. I’m not sure what I was thinking, if anything, when I did the next piece, Landscape House. I wasn’t thinking about a house. I liked the landscape, but the few lines indicating a house or structure were an afterthought. I don’t know, but the afterthought seemed to work better this time. Karen Bonaker had sent me some paper textures, and I place one on Landscape House. I do like the way the paper looks.
For me, something seemed to click with this Landscape House. But…then I had another step backward. In the next image, I tried to repeat some of the bold brush work, but again, I added a lonely tree and bush, which didn’t work. Will I ever learn?
OK…so I am thinking I need simple, bold brush work and very little added details. I actually liked the next attempt.
I am beginning to think I am heading in the right direction. I had a lot of help getting there. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I am taking Tim Shelbourne’s Winter School, which is fabulous BTW. Anyway, I decided to post some of this work at the school, which was very hard for me to do. I am always nervous to post…even here on my blog. But, the students at the school were so encouraging and helpful. They told me what they saw in the work and pushed me forward. I started feeling more confident, which is always a plus. Unfortunately, the next image seemed a little forced to me…not very spontaneous.
Mountain Trees 2 has some nice parts, but I think I was trying to hard with the main trees. So next, I just splashed paint and didn’t try to make a landscape at all. For fun, I threw in a splash of color. I do not know why I like this image, but I do. I intended to do more with it…but for some reason I just stopped…probably because I didn’t know what else to do with the image, which is always a good indicator that it is time to stop.
When I introduced color to Abstract Landscape, it was like a breath of fresh air. I decided I needed a color break…and did a digital wet watercolor I call The Wet Arrangement.
It is definitely a riot of color and I do like the painting very much. It is funny, but my favorite parts are the three places where the image leaves the picture frame. The two flowers and leaf were fairly representational, but I thought they needed to be less so. Using a very wet brush, just like adding water to a traditional watercolor painting, I brushed the flowers and leaf causing them to disperse. I love watching that happen in Corel Painter 2015.
I think I needed the color break because the next two landscapes pleased me. I saw a direction; I saw me influenced by Gao Xingjian, but remaining me.
The color break brought the touch of a warm color to The Lonely Hill. I liked that very much. I continued with the same concept in the next vertical piece.
The green might be a little much especially in the signature. I still like this piece very much. Yesterday, I went back to a more traditional style. I do love working with quick brush strokes creating objects.
There you have it, dear Reader. You know what I am doing. I will continue working this way for a little while longer, and then I will produce some “how to” videos and provide some brushes, too. I may even have a paper or two to share.
I hope you enjoyed the show,