Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Putting a Sky into Perspective

Hi Everyone!

I just had the most interesting conversation with my friend Paul Seymour on Skype. Right now we are both painting landscapes. Paul is working through Dave's landscape series and I've just started one from one of my favourite photos.

We were talking about the sky and how to paint it into perspective. When the sky is an important element in the painting it is really useful to spend time on it and develop it in a thoughtful, logical manner.

When painting a landscape the sky at the top of the canvas is generally a more saturated or intense (usually slightly darker in value too!)than the sky at the horizon line. Take a look the next time you go outside. Lock your eyes on the horizon and observe the value and intensity. Next tilt your head way back and look at the sky directly above your head. This is the 'richer' blue you will find at the top of a canvas.

The blue at the horizon is the sky that is the most distant from your eye, it will contain the most atmospheric perspective. The angle of the sun's rays bouncing from the ground and the amount of pollution or dust in the air will dull the blue and lighten it in value compared to the sky overhead.

Next pay close attention to the temperature of the sky. You may have a warm or cool sky depending on the mood and the weather in your painting, BUT it will be cooler at the top of the canvas and warmer at the horizon.

When painting an alla prima sky, decide how much movement and interest you want and then choose your brush accordingly. If you are looking for lots of movement and interest, choose a small brush, less movement = larger brush (fewer brush strokes!) I LOVE the Global Art Bristle filberts. Right now they are my favourite brushes of all time and if stranded on a desert island would be my first picks!

I spent a lot of time on my sky today. Maybe a bit too much, but I was learning and experimenting with a few things. I found that working into wet paint was wonderful for creating clouds.

I began by laying in a mass tone for the cloud that was a mid value. I used my brush on its side and really coaxed and pushed paint around to create shapes and tonal differences. I added a grey shadow tone to the bottoms of the bigger closer clouds. Gradually I worked up to pure Titanium White tones using thicker and thicker viscosity paint as I got lighter and more detailed. Often I would go back to deep sky tones and dance a little into a cloud that was getting too 'thick' to help break it up and help lift the light values up.

I have a class tomorrow so this painting will have to simmer a little while Anyone else painting a landscape? Any thoughts and observations as you go?


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Painting Classes at Dawbon Art Studio

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Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the First Day of Summer! I hope that this summer finds you with a brush in your hand and a painting in your mind's eye.

I've just come back from an amazing 10 days at the Jansen Art Studio in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Sixteen Heritage Educators from around the world were gathered together painting, creating and writing new material for you! This summer will see the publication of 3 brand new E-Books.

After such an exciting time I've come home raring to share all of the new things I've learned! I've decided to run Wednesday 'Casual' painting classes here at the studio.

Wednesday, June 29

Wednesday, July 6

Wednesday, July 20

Wednesday, July 27

Wednesday, August 17

Wednesday, August 24

Classes will run from 10am - 3pm. Please pack your lunch and all of your regular painting supplies. Cost of each session is $25. We will be using Heritage Multimedia Acrylics that you may purchase or pay a dipping fee and use some of the studio paint.

I will be teaching you Casual Florals using the Paint it Simply techniques. These classes are perfect for all artists ~ from the first time painter to the seasoned painter. The technique uses only 6 tubes of paint and 1 brush! How much easier could it get? No sideloading!!!! This technique depends on the use of tones! It is so much fun I can't wait until September to begin teaching it, so we're starting NOW! Laughing

You may paint on any surface of your choice (we have lots of plates in stock if you feel inspired!) just check with me ahead of time to make sure it is prepared properly.

Each day's lesson will begin with a talk and demonstration about a flower's shape and structure. After that you will be encouraged to paint your very own creations. Perhaps you have pictures from your garden that have always inspired you? Bring them in and I'll teach you how to put them into a lovely design. This open, casual studio atmosphere will allow you to learn from what your neighbour's are doing too!

If you are interested in reserving a seat in any of these sessions please email us at:


Seating is limited so don't delay! Barrie is beautiful in the summer, why not visit and paint with me! If you have a group and would like a special lesson let me know and we can schedule a special class for you.

Happy Painting!


Georgia Dawbon,

Heritage Education Coordinator


88 Letitia Street, Barrie, Ontario

705 792-9377

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Learning to Paint with Bottles

I haven't posted here for quite some time and my friend Yumiko gently (OK, not so gently!!!! LOL - hai!!!) reminded me to update my blog. Thank you Yumiko!

In 1994 I painted my very first decorative painting piece and I was hooked. I learned how to paint using bottled acrylics. My first lessons came from local teachers and books. I fell in love with the landscapes. Creating beautiful scenes in a step by step manner was the hook. The unfortunate part of the story is that although I was learning to reproduce these lovely landscapes, I really wasn’t learning how to paint them on my own. The bottles of paint were holding me back.

In my studio, Dad and my husband Blake built me the world’s largest spice rack! LOL, it was a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood fitted with shelves that held the entire line of Delta Ceramcoat Acrylics and the entire line of DecoArt American Acrylics. This was mounted on the wall and held over 600 bottles of paint. There came a time that I wanted to design my own pieces and I would sit in my studio alone faced with a blank canvas and a wall of colour staring at me. I really had no idea where to begin or what to do.

So, I did nothing. I continued to paint other people’s designs and followed the instructions to the letter, never deviating in colour because I had no idea how.

Recently I was writing Landscape instructions for Dave’s new DVD series and I realized something: the entire painting “Along the Seine” requires only 13 tubes of paint! I was watching him develop the foreground flower area in the bottom right of the painting and I suddenly wondered “how many bottles of paint would that take?” I hit pause on the computer and enlarged the screen a little…How many tones were in the grass? How many tones were in that bush? Hey! How many tones are in the river and sky??? Then I started to look at the village that I’d already written the instructions for, every building was just a little different. There was so much interest in that painting! I looked back in the notes and counted up the tubes he used, 13!!!! I’m going to guess conservatively, that if someone had designed that piece using bottled acrylics there would be upwards of 40 bottles required.

It made me really think about how far a limited palette can take us in a painting. Even if the painting had used 40 bottles of paint, the slight variations of colour and subtle nuances in the sky and water that come from an uncomplicated mix on your brush could never have been duplicated. Add to that the gamble that the 40 premixed colours would relate to each other and things could get dicey. Take a look at these paintings and see if you’d ever have guessed that they were all painted with the same palette:

I learned how to paint during the peak of the Decorative Painting industry with bottles of premixed colour that were supposed to make life so much easier. But when I think of that imposing wall of paint I freeze again like a deer caught in headlights. The limited palette lets me create my own painting, even when painting another artist’s design because I get to chose and make it my own. I know it sounds harder (ahh! I have to learn to mix????) but it is SO much easier and there really are no mistakes.