Feb 14, 2019

Polarizing the Light to Photograph your Paintings without Glare...

Not the way to do it...
© Trevor Taylor 2019
I am often asked what is the best way to photograph a painting, especially if it has a glossy finish – and while my answer can range between shooting it outdoors on an overcast day, or in the shade, and digitally correcting the color for the inevitable shift that will occur – I think Trevor Taylor has detailed an easy low-cost way to shoot your work in your studio. Trevor's method is exactly what I pay a pro to do when I don't want the hassle of photographing my own work.

The cleverest part in Trevor's post is how to use cardboard boxes to hold the polarizing filters to the aluminum clamp housings, and +90 CRI index GE Reveal™ Lightbulbs for full-spectrumlight. Once you get the gear and set up your studio, shooting your work becomes easy. 

One thing to note, however, is that when you polarize the light your paintings will look as though they have gained in contrast, especially in the dark passages. (They may even appear a little warmer in overall hue.) This is because the polarizing also eliminates the subtle 'velvet' (soft reflectivity) you are used to seeing in those darks – not because you are doing something wrong. So if the appearance of extra contrast is an issue you will still need to digitally fuss with the image after each shot.

(Re-published with the author's permission © Trevor Taylor 2019)

How To Eliminate Glare When Photographing Artwork 
The first impression of your artwork matters most and in today’s age that will most likely be a photo. You may need to submit pieces to galleries, post on social media, send out newsletters, or update your website. Whatever it is, paintings are notoriously difficult to photograph but paying for professional shots for each piece quickly adds up. Thankfully, a small investment and a little practice will give you great results, perfect for online use and even small art prints or reproductions...
(to continue reading Trevor's blog post, click below...)

And if you would like to see more of Trevor's work visit his website here:

Thank you Trevor for allowing me to share this tip with my readers!...


Feb 1, 2019

My New Article about Painting on Monhegan Island in PleinAir Magazine is Now Out...

I just had an article published in the Feb/Mar issue of PLEINAIR MAGAZINE about my recent trip to Monhegan Island, Maine. 
In it, I share the pure joy of painting without purpose. If you are a subscriber, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed living and writing it. If you aren't subscribed, a copy can be purchased at your local magazine shop. If you must wait, I will publish it in full in three months. (Publisher's requirement.)
And yes – as my article says – I will be teaching a week-long plein air workshop this August on Monhegan. This will be a rare workshop from me, open to ALL mediums. I've already reserved accommodations for you in the grand old Island Inn, and in the artists' cottage Zimmie's – and I've put together an exciting itinerary for everyone to paint. So all you have to do is show up with your gear. 
Come join me, and experience the historic beauty of one of America's greatest art colonies! Paint in the footsteps of George Bellows, Robert Henri, Frederick Judd Waugh, Rockwell Kent, Kate Chappel, Elena Jahn, Lynne Drexler, and the three generations of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth.

But don't delay: an announcement has already gone out to my Early Bird Workshop Notification List and folks are now signing up...

To learn more about this, and my other workshops, visit: 

Pictured above: An old postcard looking out over the dock, near Fish Beach.
Believe me when I say things have not changed all that much today – TJK

Jan 25, 2019

Registration for my 2019 Plein Air Workshops is now open!...

Some of you have been looking ahead to the upcoming plein air season and asking about my classes... And finally, here they are! Three new locations in my yearly rotation: Charleston SC (sorry, now full), Wexford, Ireland (one day) and Monhegan Island ME (seven days). All great places to work on your outdoor painting skills. Plus two more listed below...

You can read all about my 2018 trip to Monhegan Island in this month's issue of PleinAir Magazine. (PAM's 2019 workshop guide shown left). My time on the island was a restorative week of quiet introspection, drawing, and painting for fun – oh and yes – scouting for my new Monhegan workshop listed above. If you don't already know, Monhegan is a famously beautiful place to paint, with a rich history of American artists working and living there. I've ALREADY got fantastic lodgings reserved for you so you won't have to find them yourself. (It's a small island, wait too long and they can be hard to get.) I expect Plein Air Monhegan to fill fast, starting this week, so don't delay if you want to join us.

And yes, this September I will offer something I've never offered before... I've scheduled two of my most popular Portland, OR, outdoor classes – Drawing for the Plein Air Painter & Painting for the Plein Air Painter – back-to-back so you can experience a two-week intensive plein air study like nowhere else. (Of course, you can take just one or the other if you prefer, but two weeks focused on landscape en plein air? Wow!) 

To learn more about these classes, click Plein Air Everywhere!...

Once you've read up let me know if you want to register!...

Sep 20, 2018

Brushstrokes - The Modern Era (Part 3)

Part 3 of 3 clips on the history of brushstrokes of the masters. (Part 1 and 2 are before this post.)

Remember, your surface and brushstrokes are two of the most important things you can use to distinguish your paintings from a photograph...



Author credit:

Published on Nov 21, 2017

In part three of this groundbreaking three-part series on brushstrokes, artist Jill Poyerd takes a look at the explosion of new ideas in brushwork and paint application throughout the modern era. Focusing on select brushstrokes, viewers walk through the gradual progression and learn how ideas of abstraction became part of the artist’s repertoire.
Music Credits (Part 3):
Classical Piano Inspirational by TheJRSSoundDesign
Emotional Flashback by TheJRSSoundDesign
Simple Piano by TheJRSSoundDesign
Emotional Flashback by TheJRSSoundDesign
Piano Inspirational (review) by TheJRSSoundDesign

Brushstrokes - The 19th Century (Part 2)

Part 2 of 2 clips on the history of brushstrokes of the masters. (Part 1 is before this post)



Author credit:

Published on Nov 21, 2017


Part two of the groundbreaking three-part series on brushstrokes delves into the significant changes that occurred in the world of art throughout the 19th century. Many of the innovative brushstrokes developed by the masters during this time, set the foundation for the work and ideas seen throughout the 20th century and into today. Music Credits (Part 2): Piano Inspirational by TheJRSSoundDesign Simple Piano by TheJRSSoundDesign Simple Piano by TheJRSSoundDesign Beautiful Inspiring Piano by TheJRSSoundDesign Solo Piano Inspiration by Opus68

Brushstrokes - The Early Masters (Part 1)

Part 1 of 3 clips on the history of brushstrokes of the masters. 

Remember, your surface and brushstrokes are two of the most important things you can use to distinguish your paintings from a photograph...



Author credit:

Published on Nov 21, 2017


How do brushstrokes influence a work of art? What are the different brushstrokes available to artists and which Masters made them famous? This groundbreaking video by artist Jill Poyerd traces the history of artistic brushwork from the pre-Renaissance era up to the 1800s. This is part one of a 3-part series. Music Credits (Part 1): Night Scenes by TheJRSSoundDesign Simple Piano by TheJRSSoundDesign Night Scene by TheJRSSoundDesign Above the Clouds by TheJRSSoundDesign Emotional Flashback by TheJRSSoundDesign Simple Piano by TheJRSSoundDesign

Apr 10, 2018

Sorolla and the Concept of Color Temperature...

First, let me begin by saying that Color Temperature is one of the worst explained aspects of painting....

Too often a teacher either doesn’t understand it himself, or she makes it sound more complicated than it is. This leaves a student struggling with trying to see what is being talked about before giving up frustration. Or worse, the student comes to believe color temperature is not a real thing. Which is unfortunate, because seeing, understanding, and learning how to accentuate color temperature can transform your work – indoors or out.

I think of color temperature the same way I think about cooking. Until recently, food scientists firmly believed there were only four flavors the human tongue could taste: Sweet, Sour, Bitter, and Salt. But now, most culinary experts agree there is a fifth flavor – Umami – the flavor of meat. It is a concentrated sensation found in grilled meat, mushrooms, and many fermented foods as well. A taste we all love...

Color temperature is similar to Umami in the sense that once you know it exists you start seeing it everywhere. And when you do, you never stop seeing it again. 

So okay, how do you start seeing color temperature?

First, it is important to understand that color temperature has nothing to do with a single color or hue. A yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, or greens by itself is not inherently warm or cool. Color temperature is defined by the relationship between two or more hues! The relationship between a green and a blue (top left). Between an orange and a purple (middle). And even a red and a slightly different red (bottom left). In all cases, one hue will appear to be warmer or cooler than the other. To what degree they will appear to be warmer or cooler depends upon where each hue sits on the color wheel. Or, to be more precise, how close a hue is positioned to the color yellow or purple. The French Impressionists discovered this principle while painting snow outdoors: the hue closest to yellow is the warmer of the two. The hue that sits closest to purple is cooler. It’s really that simple.

Okay, so why does this matter?

Landscape and figurative painters, such as Sorolla, understood that on a sunny day, the areas of light will appear warmer if the shadows in close proximity are being influenced by the cooler light bouncing in from the sky. Thus, on a sunny day the temperature relationship between a color lit by the sun, and the same color that passes into a shadow, will be warm and cool. For example, if you set out to paint a white shirt going from light into shadow you can see the white in the light contains more yellow; and the white in the shadow is not just darker, it is also a little cooler. The shadow has a bluish/purplish cast (see lower right image). If you maintain this relationship of warm lights/cool shadows consistently throughout the painting you will end up with color harmony – a unified color of light.

When you examine Sorolla’s outdoor work you discover he often pushed his colors in the sunlight more towards the yellow than they actually were. And you also learn he pushed the colors in his shadows towards the blue or purple. This warm/cool temperature shift, or ‘push’, forced a greater separation between the light and shadow masses and also created an optical vibration within the eye. This color vibration was a well understood physiological effect called “Simultaneous Contrast in Hue” and it was first exploited to its fullest extent by painters of Sorolla's generation. In fact, Simultaneous Contrast in Hue was one of the principles that launched Impressionism.

However, as you continue to examine at Sorolla’s work for this effect you find exceptions to the principle of warm lights/cool shadows. (Nothing is art is ever simple, right?) Yet when you find them they turn out to be logical exceptions, easily explained.

Not all light that bounces into a shadow comes from the sky. Some light may be reflecting in from another direction all together. And that light may be of a different color. In Sorolla’s paintings on the left, the sunlight is bouncing up off a beach below onto the underside of the woman's arm. In the middle image, the light can be seen bouncing off the inside of a straw basket that is held tightly against a boy's torso. And on the right, the light is bouncing off the face of a cliff outside the painting, AND bouncing up from the bottom under the water. (Fantastic, yes?) In these three examples the reflected light is so strong it overwhelms the weaker, cooler skylight coming in from above. So exceptions to the warm light/cool shadow principle is limited to specific situations where the color within the shadows are being pushed toward a warmer hue than the sunlight shining down from above. As a result, in comparison, the color of sunlight may appear cooler.

Tricky, yes? Well, not really, once you start looking for such exceptions in real life. And, once you do, you begin to see all kinds of colored light bouncing around in the shadows. And of course, when you include such temperature shifts into your own work it will imbue  a quality of light everyone will love.

My Sorolla video is extensive and filled with a lot of information about color and temperature. In truth, I’ve been working on it over the past five years when I began traveling to view his his masterworks and the places he painted. This demo is a stroke-by-stroke presentation and it runs just over 15 hours from start to finish. It includes detailed explanations of what I am about to do, and explanations while I do it. I talk about the Why, as well as the How because both are critical to fully understand what is happening. Nothing is left out or held back. Nothing is dumbed down. And topics beyond color temperature are explored in detail. I talk about how Sorolla applied his paint. How he altered, edited, and simplified his subjects. How he used his brush at the beginning of a painting, and how he used it at the end. And much, much, more...

So if you are a painter like me, who is in awe of the genius of Sorolla – or if Sorolla is a new artist to you – you can learn a lot about how he worked from this video. Click the link below to receive a time limited special pre-release price. But don't wait. This discount will end the day after its official release, Monday, April 16. 

In this video you will learn how to see, understand, and use color temperature to add vibrancy and life to your own work, just like Sorolla…

   – TJK