How Tools influence our Thinking

Art Tools

A thought about tools and painting: The tools we hold actually change our thinking. A tool determines what can and can’t be done, what solutions and options are open to us or not.

Our subconscious looks for solutions based on the options our tool provides. If the size or shape of your brush is not the one that matches what you envision should happen on your canvas, then you will probably get something that doesn’t exactly match your vision. Same thing for the paints you use or how the surface of the painting is like.

Like trying to do a block-in with paint on a very absorbent surface. The brush doesn’t want to move and it’s hard to draw. It can change the way you do your block-in. The drawing may come out more segmented, for example.

Or how about trying to create bright chroma with a muddy pile of paint?Trying to create large shapes with a small brush. Trying to create straight edges using a rounded brush. So my conclusion is that it’s nice to incorporate the habit of spending a minute to choose the right tool before I start working.

The many forms of visual CONTRAST

Midsummer Eve, Edward Robert Hughes, 1908

Visual contrast is a key concept in the making of an artwork. A concept I learned from online lectures by artist Bill Perkins at NMA.

My initial concept of visual contrast was very limited. I thought that contrast consists of something visually¬†standing out due to being¬†darker or lighter than what’s next to it. I was aware that you could create color contrast. But his lecture really opened my eyes to the endless forms of visual contrast that take part in an artwork and shape the way we experience it.¬† Continue reading

Value in composition

Values is a term in art that describes how light or dark something is. It refers to the grayscale value of a color.

How light or dark something is is one of the primary ways our visual system analyzes the visual world around us. It’s how we recognize something as a shape or an outline and it clues us to understand it as an entity.

In visual art it is a primary tool to emphasize and de-emphasize elements in a work of art. More specifically than value, it is the contrast that is used to make something stand out or disappear. When you start paying attention to how it is used in art, some of those lovely paintings and the way they were composed starts seeming very deliberate and not so random. It is not just that an artist gets an inspiration and an idea of what they want to paint, it is also that they then spend time composing the values of the picture to make the theme or subject of their painting stand out. So much so that in some cases it can almost seem shamelessly composed, yet seem entirely coincidental, unintended and realistic. Continue reading