Shades of Gray (Not of the BDSM Kind)

In art class yesterday we at last began painting! It was such a relief to drag a brush across canvas again, to feel flecks of paint on my hands and see a painting come to life.

I’ve only once tried painting realism (the result ended unfinished), so it was nice to be led through step by step by our teacher. Most of my other art classes have been so preoccupied trying to teach the fundamental basics of drawing that we’ve had very limited time to move on to painting. But since in this class we’re starting our painting at an intermediate shading-in-grays, it’s a good compromise and is letting us jump that hurdle sooner than usual.

I feel like I say this a lot, but I have to say it’s a great opportunity to have a class move so swiftly from true foundationals up the technique ranks. It’s so good to be taught all those steps that have become either assumed knowledge or useless knowledge. With computers, projectors, and photoshop to do a lot of the grunt work of proportioning, shading, and perspective, no one learns how to do it themselves anymore. It’s like learning complex physics and algebra, but relying on a calculator to add 2+2.

Some things are invaluable to know inside out, however, and especially if you want to truly render realism, as I’m increasingly discovering, you have to be able to x-ray your work through the many processes. Like in all things in life, you have to know the rules to break them.

Prime example of know-er and breaker of rules is magic realism painter James Gurney, artist and creator of Dinotopia.

Step by step grayscale drawing of James Gurney’s steampunk dinosaur world, Dinotopia.

He was the one who first inspired my desire to learn realist painting, mostly because he could make dinosaurs appear real, which my 5 year old self found irristable. That desire was rekindled when I discovered his daily blog with painting tips two years ago, and since them I’ve been hungering after this foundational knowledge of rules so that I can (at least attempt to) make art inspired by his.

I never would have guessed when I was 5 that it would take me going to Korea to start really learning realism though. Funny how life works out.

So here’s my initial tone mixing scale smeared across my paper palette as we mentally prepared ourselves for the leap into painting.

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And here’s my primed and perfectly gray canvas as I patiently wait for it to dry.

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Next came my apple, and though it’s far from what I imagined in the glorious high realism of my mind’s expectations, it’s not a bad first attempt.

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I had to leave it at that because 1) I kept being too impatient for it to dry – and considering we were painting with hyperfast drying acrylics this says a lot – and fucking it up, and 2) the class finished and everyone else packed up to leave. I might go back during the week to finish.

….Ooooor I might just stay home to finish reading Dune. It’s at that point where it’s hard to put down.

It’s going to be a tough call.

But I’ll just say I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s art class and can’t wait for next week! We’ll also be having a BBQ cookout/t-shirt making/drinking get together on Saturday which is going to be great. Fingers crossed this week goes by fast!

Anyway I know this once again isn’t Namhae Chapter 2, but things were busier than expected at work considering I had no classes today due to midterms. But this is becoming absurd so I do hope tomorrow will offer me time to regale you with more adventures!


5 thoughts on “Shades of Gray (Not of the BDSM Kind)

  1. you’re deft skillwork continues to amaze. as I told you several times before your can write the book and illustrate it too.

    Like

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