Student Works During Quarantine

sonia leatarde girl with doll oil painting

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

Demo on Student Work, Color Theory and Light by Michael Newberry

Newberry student demo time lapse

Newberry Art Tutorials

Using color theory of cool shadows and warm highlights, I corrected this student’s painting. The student got stills with instructions of the steps, here it is simply a time-lapse. Shadows and distance are often either cool or warm, cool shadows imply a cool background. It works. I did about 12 steps, cooling up the background and shadows. For example, on the lips, I changed the blood-red shadows to violet, red+blue=violet. Then I softened the edges where there was a strong line between shadows and highlights, they always need a middle tone dividing them. Then I finished with the light using a light peach, light orange or peach is the opposite of blue — Warm light, cool shadows. I hope this is useful to you.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 4/1/2020

Tutorials, Online Mentorship and Student Testimonials

Color Theory: Shadow and Depth Share the Same Color Base

Newberry, Clay Jar with Burnt Umber Shadows, 2017, oil on linen, 10x8"

Newberry Art Tutorials

Painting Is a Lie That Helps Us See More

An important part of being a true artist is exploring visual knowledge. In this series of small 10×8″ paintings I tested my hypothesis that the hue (color) of shadows would have similar hues in spatial depth. The idea was gleaned from two things: looking at landscapes when the distant mountains are blue and there is blue in the shadows of everything including in the foreground. And from my study of the colors of the light and shadows of Rembrandt and Monet, what was different yet similar between them.

At first glance of my paintings above look fairly natural and you will notice the simple objects gently lit. Which is a good thing. This implies that the hypothesis is working. They each have a different color base: red, black, burnt umber, manganese blue, ultra marine blue, gray, and sienna. This means when a lit white stripe in the foreground enters into a shadow it will merge with that shadow’s color base, for instance if the base is manganese blue the white stripe now turns turquoise. The real complexity begins when the further you go back in space the colors of things take on more manganese blue hues.

This fits with a classical view of warmer colors come forward and cooler colors go back but what happens when we reverse this and give the shadows the hot red or sienna and use those hues to blend with the background colors? Yay, it still works in the sense of creating depth and light. As soon as the first artists started painting real things like horses on two-dimensional cave walls there was a paradox that it was a lie and a truth. The advantage of being able to work with radically different color schemes gives the artist more emotional range and visual options. And it gives the viewer more to look for in the world around them.

Workshop Series: Composition!

Newberry Art Tutorials

Some Guidelines For Great Compositons

In my workshops students have plenty of time to compose the work, the line drawing set up before painting begins. The following tutorials show techniques you can focus on as you map out the painting’s composition.

Composition in One Easy Lesson

Van Gogh, demo
For demonstration a markup of Van Gogh’s bedroom in St. Remy. This was one of our wonderful locations in our 2019 Provence Art Experience Workshop, and might be on our itinerary in 2020.

The lesson in three words: Make interesting corners. In this tutorial I show how some of greatest artists of composition, Vermeer, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, Diebenkorn, and Velazquez make fascinating shapes and lighting in the corners. It is a very simple way to get the most out of your composition without having to remember a million rules!

Abstraction in Representational Art

My mark up of Rembrandt’s One Hundred Guilder Print, showing how he grouped light and shade into large abstract shapes incorporating several figures. Abstracting is handy way to organize a composition.

Though this tutorial is not strictly about composition it will be helpful to see how one can organize abstract shapes in a compositional way. Using Rembrandt, Kline, and Monet I show how they group things into broader abstract shapes. This is an extremely powerful technique that gives the viewer an epic journey through the big picture.

True Lies Warp Negative Space

A markup of a detail of one of Monet’s Cathedral paintings. The gray and dark gray stripes mark the darker, closer edge of the doorway’s shadow and the lighter, further away edge of the shadow. A very exciting and dramatic tool to breath passion into your work.

A very surreal artist’s perspective but indispensable to give life to your painting is accenting the negative spaces of things. I go into detail showing how Monet, Rembrandt, Vermeer, myself, and William Wray manipulate negative space to create a sense of movement in the painting. If you can take a few seconds, while composing, to check the negative spaces it will add tremendously to making a powerful painting.

Pushing the Composition Envelope, Melissa Hefferlin Still Lifes

A still life from Melissa Hefferlin, one of the greatest artists of composition alive today. Her biggest strength is balancing negative spaces.

This is a very helpful article on how Picasso and Hefferlin arrange their compositions, and how Melissa manages to do so in a realistic way.

When you are taking a workshop with me you don’t have to hold all this info in your head, that is my job, but it is good to read up on these tutorials. I hope you enjoy them and I guarantee you that adding them to your technique will feel great and raise your art up a few levels.

For more about studying with me please introduce yourself and your work via email, mtnewberry at gmail dot com.