JOHN POTOTSCHNIK FINE ART

The Form Principle

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In his book, Creative Illustration, Andrew Loomis provides some very helpful information for artists. Whether using drawing or painting media, working in black and white, color, or working with a variety of subject matter, his comments about creating form apply to all of us who draw and paint.

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“If we cannot do a study in black and white and do a good thing from the standpoint of values, we certainly cannot do it better in color just because it is color.”

 

Kevin Macpherson, in his books, Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color, Landscape Painting Inside & Out, and Conversations with Nature, he stresses what Loomis describes as The Form Principle. When I studied with Joe Paquet a year ago, he too placed great emphasis on creating form. Form is built on values, and form is created when there is a clear separation between light and shadow. Paquet is a master at creating form because he thoroughly understands and applies this principle in all his paintings. He made it look easy while I watched him paint, but the truth is, seeing the form, understanding what you’re seeing, and effectively beginning every painting in this way, is not that simple. It takes time and a lot of practice to master it. (Click images to enlarge)

This is an excellent example of the way Joe Paquet applies the form principle. If all the shadows are painted accurately and in the correct value relationship to one another, the painting is then solidly established.

This is an excellent example of the way Joe Paquet applies the form principle. If all the shadows are painted accurately and in the correct value relationship to one another, as in this painting, bringing the painting to completion is almost a piece of cake.

Joe Paquet - "On the Arno" - 24" x 30" - Oil  (The foundation for the painting was established when Paquet carefully considered, and united, the shadow patterns of he landscape).

Joe Paquet – “On the Arno” – 24″ x 30″ – Oil  (The foundation for this painting was established when Paquet carefully considered, and united, the shadow patterns of the landscape).

Applying Paquet's teaching to my own work, here's a piece I'm working on.

Applying Paquet’s teaching to my own work, here’s a piece I’m working on.

The Form Principle is clearly illustrated on this plaster cast.

The Form Principle is clearly illustrated on this cast drawing.

 

Loomis continues: “The best way in the world to learn values as well as color is to work from life. If you are working in black and white paint, from life, you are naturally going to have to take those things before you which are in nature’s colors and transpose them to black and white values. You will find with concentration and study that you will do it better than will your films and sensitized paper. Always look for the lightest thing in the light and compare it with the darkest thing also in the light, not in the shadow. Then look for the lightest thing in the shadow and compare it with the darkest dark of the shadows. In this manner you think of two groups of values, those in the light as opposed to those in the shadow. The lights must hold together as a whole group, while the group of shadows should be “stepped down” enough so they also seem to hang together. Every bit of the form should instantly identify itself as belonging to one group or the other. Consider your halftones always as a part of the light.”

 

“The relationship of things to one another is the same always, either in light or shadow. That relationship must be maintained under all circumstances. The biggest obstacle to good work is the lack of consistency in these relationships.”

 

“Try to understand that form is truth of tone and nothing else. Good color is also truth of tone rather than brightness of pigment. Set up a still life. Make a small black and white study. Then try it in color. You will thus understand what I am talking about better than through any language at my disposal. You may believe you are good in color and also in value relationships, but when you really begin to see these things as they are in Nature, you will find many errors in your work. We all do. Correct values can make a picture have that ‘quality of existence.’”

 

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John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE