When I critique my students work 90% of the time I say this

Your values are wrong here and here and here.

If you get your values right everywhere, the realism will be good.



  • @Mark_Carder My 'school' is Australian tonalism - the Max Meldrum approach. Although I don't particularly like Meldrum's paintings - many of his students were better, and many better artists in his era - but the teaching as a foundation was cut-through. It parallels your teaching, which I've greatly valued - for example his emphasis on values as the most critical factor for the eye, in order of visual importance: tone, shape, edge, colour... The foundations were strong. My own teacher (who was taught by a Meldrum student) once did a correct values landscape with incorrect colours (eg, purple foliage) to illustrate. It still looked real, dimensional. There are only some slight differences in approach to your teaching. The only notable difference I think is the tendency to block in the entire canvas at the start, in simplified values, to establish the tonal relationships - it gives the essential drama immediately - 'You can't put sunlight in a tube. You have to establish the tonal distance.' And then you bring the entire painting along at once - 'paint the next biggest difference'; 'in order of visual importance'; 'you don't paint at the easel, you paint from back here. See the mark, make your mark, stand back.' (I can still hear my teacher's voice). If he caught me: 'I think you're missing a hair on a bee's knee, there. Leave the details for now, get the big statements right.'

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