Jerry Markham believes that painting is a logical process like math, and that learning the ‘rules’ provides us with the freedom to paint what we envision. Our style will naturally emerge during this long-term process. As Robert Henri writes in his book The Art Spirit, ‘Seek technical excellence so that we may give compelling expression to our thoughts.’
During the workshop Jerry helped us to use effective language to critique our own progress. Instead of just saying something like ‘too muddy’ or ‘it’s not working’, we used specific terms such as too dark, too cool and so on. Learning the meaning of art vocabulary is key.
A few of the many ideas Jerry passed on:
Begin with a clear intention; Let the values do the work by pushing and pulling the lights and darks; Soften edges at the outer edges of the canvas; Use edges to keep your viewer involved; Keep the colours clean (a recognizable temperature and/or seeing how the under colour affects the added colour); Try using a 3-colour palette plus white; Every stroke needs its own character; Be aware of how far you can move the marks before you break the integrity of a shape; Play with visual weight (big/small shapes, dark/light areas etc); Take your own photos and do your research; Discover problems and what you don’t know by sketching before painting.
Jerry quoted Bill Reese who said ‘Value does all the work and colour gets the glory.’ He suggests reading Reese’s book ‘Painter’s Process’ wherein Reese states that ‘Really good paintings are expensive as less people like them’.Workshop Review