Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Books vs. Videos

Usually when I attempt to learn something new, the first thing I research are the canonical books of the subject.  Amazon is great for finding these.  You can lose hours finding books and following the reviews of users that have similar taste.  Books have been my go-to for learning new programming concepts and languages.  For something as non-visual as computer programming, they have worked well.

Learning to paint from books is difficult.  I've never painted before.  I've never watched someone else paint.  I don't understand even the simplest concepts like how to pick up paint (how much?) using a brush (which brush?) and apply it (what type of stroke?) to a surface (which surface?).  Some books have process photos for things like this, but sometimes they're not enough.  

In addition to reading, I've been watching videos.  It's amazing how many painting instruction videos there are freely available on sites like YouTube.  I did a search for color mixing tutorials and found this page containing a video by Will Kemp.   While watching the video, these things jumped out at me:
  • Mixing paint with a palette knife leaves the paint on the palette.  When I tried mixing paint with a brush, the more I mixed, the more the brush took up the paint from the palette.
  • It only takes a little bit of a dark pigment to affect a lot of light pigment.
  • Holding the palette knife up to the target color is much easier than looking down at the paint on the palette or using a brush to judge the color.
Just watching someone go through the motions of mixing paint has helped me tremendously.  Watching Will hold up the knife to the target color to judge his mixture made me realize how flawed what I was doing was.  These things are obvious to those with experience, but they provide breakthroughs to a beginner's mind.  I've read many of these things in books, but seeing it in action took it from something theoretical to something I know I can do.  

I went out today and bought a cheap-o palette knife.

Today's inspiration:

Will Kemp's Acrylic Painting page contains a bunch of incredibly useful articles and videos.   He breaks down concepts so they are easy to understand and has a friendly, encouraging style.

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