I am an artist, educator, Corel Painter Master and Photographic Craftsman who has used Painter since soon after its launch twenty years ago. I work across multiple media, blending the beauty, quality and texture of analog media with the spontaneity, power and versatility of digital art tools in creating expressive contemporary portraiture. I’m thrilled to be able to synthesize traditional art forms with digital possibilities to create evocative artworks and, when the opportunity arises, entertaining action painting performances. In this blog I first share a little about a recent live art tableau vivant performance and then go into some technical details regarding adding color variation with a brush stroke in Painter.
In celebration of the opening of the exhibition “William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism” at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, I portrayed the great French artist Henri Matisse in a tableau vivant. Besides Matisse, I have worked with the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco over the last two years performing tableau vivant (“living scene”) portrayals of artists Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. In each case I recreated the look of the artist’s studio and performed in character and dressed up as the artist, making live art with models, also in character. You can see some examples of artworks and photographs from these portrayals in the gallery section of my new PaintboxTV.com web site, just relaunched after a complete revamp from the ground up. In the case of the Matisse performance I created art with a variety of media: sumi-e ink, gouache, acrylic paint, clay modelling and paper cut-outs. I did original drawings from scratch and also worked with gels and paint on canvas prints that I had prepared using Corel Painter 12, blending digital and traditional media into an exciting form of performance art.
Tableau vivant performances are typically accompanied by live music. I took this original photograph (below) at the de Young Museum of percussionist John Santos and was inspired to dive in with digital paint!
Matisse was a founding member and principal mentor for a group of artists known as the Fauves who were known for their use of vibrant and non-natural color. The Fauves, along with other the great colorists such as LeRoy Nieman, have been an inspiration for me. I love to mix in Fauvist color combinations such as light teals and cyans in highlights alongside deep blues, purples and oranges.
When working in Corel Painter 12, besides continually varying the choice of colors from one brush stroke to the next, I also like to add color variation within brush strokes. Adding color variability adds to the organic richness of a painting. It also brings in an unpredictability that mirrors the unpredictable aspect of natural media behaviour that is so easily lost in the perfect uniformity of digital. When looking at the painting below notice the color variability within the brush strokes.
In this painting I used two different methods of adding color variation within a brush stroke, the Mixer Pad Multiple Color Sampler and the Color Variability sliders, both of which are very fun to experiment with and which I encourage you to try out on lots of different brushes. Let me share what I did.
Let’s start with the default Oils > Bristle Oils.
Variability Method #1: Multiple Color Sampler
Typical of many variants in Painter, the default settings have a uniform color throughout the stroke with little or no color variability. Let’s start shaking things up by opening the Mixer panel and choosing Open Mixer Pad from the Mixer panel pop-up menu (accessed from the little icon in the top right corner of the panel).
You can take any image, save it as a small jpg, I recommend about 200 pixels wide, and then select that as a Mixer Pad. In my case I chose a Fauvist painting by Wassily Kandinsky (Autumn Landscape with Boats, 1908), one of the images from my “Inspirational Art Masterpieces Mixer Pad Collection” (see PaintboxTV).
I then chose the Sample Multiple Colors Mixer panel tool. This is a powerful tool which works with some, not all, brushes.
By clicking in different parts of the Mixer pad I could grab different combinations of colors to spread out within the brush stroke.
To return to the default Mixer Pad just select Restore Default Mixer from the Mixer panel pop-up menu.
Variability Method #2: Color Variability Sliders
Next we return to the regular Colors panel and adjust the Color Variability sliders. You’ll find the Color Variability panel via Window > Brush Control Panels > Color Variability (near the bottom of the list).
I find that I like a small hue variation (otherwise it can look too “computery”) and then slightly bigger saturation and value variability. Experiment with these sliders and see what works best for you.
More about this technique is covered in the recording of the webinar “Painting a Portrait with Bold Colors!” on PaintboxTV.com.
If you take another look at the detail of my painting you’ll recognize where I have used both of these methods of varying the color within the Bristle Oils brush stroke.
Have fun varying that color and exploring the world of digital art!