The following sentences were taken from a recent workshop given by James Richards in Tucker, Georgia.
James Richards Workshop Notes
Composition is the abstract arrangement of dark and light masses.
Value is the lightness or darkness of a color.
A landscape painting needs a center of interest which dominates the rest of the painting. This area is enhanced by the following:
- most detailed drawing
- sharpest edges, strongest contrast
- most saturated colors
- addition of manmade structures, animals, or people
- complimentary colors
- should not be placed in the center of the canvas.
Make your single statement clear and forceful. Don’t try to say too much. Many paintings are ruined by this.
Create at least three planes: foreground, middle ground, and background. Each has its own dominant value.
General rule is that there are four planes in a landscape and their value is relevant to their angle to the source of light. The sky(source of light)- is the lightest. Ground planes are next lightest. Slanted planes are next. Upright planes are darkest.
Keep your value range tight. Holding back on value and color creates a certain power in a painting
It is upon sound values that a picture depends for its solidity and convincing power.
Try to visualize the finished painting before you begin. Do several thumbnails and value studies to help develop a strong idea and design.
Keep it simple.
Don’t be afraid of editing and moving objects around to help emphasize the main idea.
Try having a rest area in front of the center of interest. This allows for some breathing room and really helps set the stage.
Make sure you use horizontals, verticals, and diagonals, and that one dominates.
Lean objects inward not outward.
Try limiting your painting to seven or fewer masses.
Try to find a way to connect all of the lights or all of the darks.
Relate every value to one another. Value relationships are the most import thing in making a painting read.
Within each mass in a painting, keep the values closer together than what you actually see in nature.
Remember that the closer together you can paint your lights and shadows in value and still distinguish light from shadow, the better you are as a painter.
The one unbreakable rule in painting is unequal distribution.
-light and shadow
-warm and cool colors
-soft and hard edges
-thick and thin paint
-horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines
Common errors to avoid
- Lines that come from or go to the corners
- Parallel lines
- Repetition of the same size mass
- Dividing the canvas in half
- Kissing edges
- Too many sharp edges
- Equal spacing between objects
Light, Color, and Atmospheric Perspective
Light and shadows are opposite in temperature. Temperature is relevant within each painting.
Yellow is the warmest color. Also the first to drop out as you recede in distance.
The darkest darks are dark and warm up close. They then lighten, purple, and blue off as they recede.
Colors lighten and cool off as they recede.
It’s good to have one color dominate.
Compare trees to trees and trees to grass. You don’t want both the same color. Nor do you want all of your trees to be the same color. Look for variety.
Texture comes forward and thin paint recedes.
There are subtle temperature shifts within just about every mass.
An edge is formed where two colors, values, or objects meet. An edge is either sharp, soft, or somewhere in between.
Sharp edges can be used with great effectiveness in leading the eye around a painting.
The strongest contrasts are found up front. Contrast decreases with distance.