Student Works During Quarantine

sonia-leatarde-girl-with-doll

Recent works during the quarantine from two students Susan Surber, the Flower in pastel, and from Sonia L’eatarde, two girls in oil.

Very proud of my students, these works were done independently of me. They took what they had been learning and applied it on their own, self-motivated, and, in my mind, very successfully. Sonia painted the two girls from masterworks from the Prado, but they are free transcriptions. We’ve been working with color theory and forming the structure of the face. Sonia’s recent lessons with me was to freely copy some classic sculpture heads to learn form. The roundness in her children’s faces is superb. And they look like children, one of the most difficult things to do in art.

Susan’s previous lessons were on building up the light by many layers of pastel layers, gently get to the lightest patches, beautiful and delicate technique. Both students have worked very hard and fearlessly, no quick formula. For instance, if I see a weakness in the colors we will go tirelessly through how color theory works in creating forms, light, and depth — it is a conceptual technique, meaning once you get it you can apply it to any color range.

If you are interested to work with me, email me some of your work, let me know about what you would love to do most in subject and technique, and how many hours a week you can work. No formula, just a lot of fundamental work, no cheating. hahah.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 5/6/2020

Rebirth: Death and Life through Art

Mary Woodul, Espíritu Ascendente, charcoal on Rives BFK, 13x19"
Mary Woodul, Espíritu Ascendente, charcoal on Rives BFK, 13x19"
Mary Woodul, Espíritu Ascendente, charcoal on Rives BFK, 13×19″

Years ago a grandchild of a friend and student of mine died. The little girl wasn’t born right and was not destined to live past childhood. At that time Mary wanted to do a special project based on the little girl’s passing. I recall the concept started with a soft cloth with lace embroidery, and quickly a flower, an iris, was added. Mary drew 20 or so thumbnail sketches, tweaking each composition until she found the one that pleased her most.

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Five Pastel Still Lifes

Newberry, Double O, pastel, 18x24"

Today I uploaded these pastel still lifes to my archive. They are in my Idyllwild studio’s drawing drawers. There is difficult oxymoron in painting and pastel which is that color kills light and light kills color, but I think with these I achieved the perfect balance bringing out the best of both. At the moment they are available and upon sale they will be framed with museum Tru-Vue glass, the best, no glare all you see is the beauty of the pastel and paper.

Pushing the Composition Envelope, Melissa Hefferlin Still Lifes

Effortless Complexity and Boundless Imagination

Decades ago, Melissa Hefferlin told me that growing up, whenever she did something wrong,  her scientist dad would sit her down with paper and pen to make columns of pros, cons, and alternatives to her bad behavior. She dreaded these episodes (apparently they took place fairly often). But they served her artistic mind very well, especially in composition.

Challenge to Picasso and Vermeer

Art is very complex with many elements such as color, light, form, emotion, imagination, subject, etc. But composition is the granddaddy of fine art. Composition in painting and drawing is the arrangement of contours on a flat surface. Two important parts of it are groupings and the balance of the entire work. To try to create something new in composition is a daunting task and throws down a challenge to Vermeer and Picasso. It seems that Melissa is unfazed by the project. 

In full disclosure, I mentored Melissa in the early 1990s, but I can’t claim any credit for her brilliance since then. 

 Groupings

Hefferlin, Journey of a Higher Hare, oil on linen, 36” x 29″

In Higher Hare, my photoshop markups below reveal the play of a triangular pattern in the cloth, table, and part of the wall. When an artist is composing they have some flexibility to accent patterns they see or sense, Melissa takes full advantage of utilizing these angles. Another artist might not see them and paint only what he/she literally sees, but that doesn’t create these almost music-like beats. 

Continue reading “Pushing the Composition Envelope, Melissa Hefferlin Still Lifes”

The Problem with Equating Form, Light, and Space with Being Old-Fashioned

A Newberry still life recreating how depth gives a feeling of movement between objects.
Olaku's use of twilight to convey depth, light, shadow, and reflections.
Abiodun Olaku, Conversations, oil on canvas, 2014. An excellent example of a contemporary artist integrating form, light, and depth. And notice the groupings of people, as if the more we look we will be able to hear their conversations. Compare this to famous postmodern artists below with their empty, flat, trash devoid of human empathy or perception.

Mediocre artists, forever disappointed that they don’t match up, have a hard time acknowledging history’s great artists.  Michelangelo, Monet, Vermeer, and Rembrandt are hard mentors. One way second-rate artists work around this is to change the rules of aesthetics. The most extreme case is postmodern aesthetics, which obliterates the importance of mastery of the medium, or using any medium at all, and believes shock concepts are the essence of art requiring no skill.

Continue reading “The Problem with Equating Form, Light, and Space with Being Old-Fashioned”

Ellipses: Don’t Start a Still-life Without ‘Em

Ellipse demo Da Vinci

Newberry Art Tutorials

Ellipses make or break any drawn plate, glass, or bottle. When beautifully done they transport the viewer to experience serene harmony. It’s rare not to have a man-made cylindrical object in a still life.

It should not be surprising that da Vinci painted/drew beautiful ellipses. This detail is a from The Last Supper–it is the plate in front of Christ.

Ellipse demo Da Vinci
Continue reading “Ellipses: Don’t Start a Still-life Without ‘Em”

Charcoal Drawing Part 2

charcoal drawing demo

Newberry Art Tutorials

Charcoal Drawing Part 2 by Michael Newberry

In Charcoal Drawing Part 1 you will find what are quality materials you need to get the best results.

With this tutorial, I will take you through the drawing stages.

charcoal drawing demo

The preparation takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Now that you have prepared the paper you are ready to roll.

charcoal drawing demo

The charcoal rub on the paper is neither black nor light, but solidly in the middle of the tonal range. Here I am drawing with General’s charcoal pencil 6b. You will notice that I hold the pencil at the back end. It may not seem important, but you might be amazed at how the mark making becomes more fluid.

Continue reading “Charcoal Drawing Part 2”