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

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.