"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Watercolor lessons, quotations for life

Frank Francese's brilliant watercolors, photo taken at OKC workshop
I'm convinced lessons on art apply to life, and Frank Francese's watercolor workshop was more proof in four days at IAO, part of my "art month." Here are some vibrant paintings and colors I saw, and vibrant thoughts I heard, from a great painter and teacher. Frank's website

Here's some of what he said:
"Use any color you want."
"If you draw every day, it'll improve your painting"
"If you don't draw a value sketch, you don't know how to finish a painting."
"Keep it simple and direct."
"Don't finish every area. A painting is like a symphony with highs and lows."
"Think in shapes, not lines"
"You can't have light if you don't have darks."
"Use big brushes."
"The first application of color is the best."
"A lot has to go right to make a good painting."
"If you over plan, you plan to fail. If you don't plan, you will fail."
"A line locks you into the shape." 
"The only way to get rich color is put the color on wet and wait on the paper."
"If someone says you can't do it, try it."
Workshop photo of one of Frank's brilliant paintings
"Do what you want to do. It's not life or death. Have fun."
"Leave the edges vague to draw the viewers' eye into the painting."
"You really never know what's going to happen in watercolor. You can predict some, not not all."
"Saying less lets you say more."
"Cows are like cars and people. They come in all shapes. and sizes."
"People are just shapes. They're carrots." "Paint the gesture of the body. Put the head on last."
"Have fun with people."
"When in doubt, leave it alone."
Drop some color in just to see what it will do.
"What happens in the foreground dictates what happens in the middle ground."
"Paintings don't have to make sense. They just have to look good."
"Let the brush do the work for you."
"If you have an idea you want to try, try it."
"Don't get too painterly. Get in and go."
"It's a difficult workshop. "
"You don't learn, unless it's difficult."

Mirror image of Frank finishing a workshop masterpiece as we watched in admiration

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