So earlier on in the semester, the week of September 26 to be more exact, Nathan Fowkes came out to BYU as a visiting artist and attended several classes to give demos and gave a couple lectures. He was really cool to have. Not only is he really good at what he does, but he hardly repeated himself, so that every lecture or demo you attended you got more and new information. I got to go to a couple of them and I want to share with you what I learned!
The first lecture I got to go to was one mostly about color theory. He talked a lot about the basics are very important, and those basics boil down to believability and harmony.
- Color is a product of our brain, our brain interpreting light in a way that is useful to us. It interprets opposing/complementary colors even though color is really just a progression.
- The color wheel sets up colors with oppositions even though it really doesn’t exist.
- The human eye can distinguish 2.4 million colors.
- Color can be broken down into the measurable: hue, saturation, and value; and the emotional impact: temperature.
- Sometimes you can just rely on Value and Temperature.
- Color is always in context. It needs relationships. Your brain craves meaning. Art/color needs meaningful relationships.
- Harmony: Variety vs. Unity vs. Unity with Variety.
- The most interesting compositions have lots of unity with some variety.
- Pigment can’t do as much as light can.
- Look for simple value groupings. Look for relationships.
- Don’t separate color & light, they are related.
- Work general to specific.
- If you can get the temperature you want with the value you want, you can get close to the color you want.
- Make conscientious color choices.
- Cheat it to make it read to the viewer. Make it compelling.
- It takes mileage and practice.
- Paint from the world around you, especially outside. That’s the best way to learn color.
- Take breaks for 5-20 minutes at a time from your work to refresh yourself.
- He always needs a simple idea of how it might work, then he does some comps, then he does some more comps, then maybe even some more comps before doing the final work.
- He uses a Listerine bottle as his water bottle in his traveling painting kit that he takes with him everywhere.
That were the essential basics of his color theory lecture. There were many, many slides that went along with it that helped demonstrate what he was teaching. I can’t really explain those without them, so the best way to learn about how colors relate to other colors would be to go look at a color theory book. I might get one and go through and write a post or two in the future to try to explain things better. I still have a LOT to learn about that myself!
The other big lecture he gave that I was able to go to focused on artist and audience, basically the relationship between the visual artist and their audience.
He talked a little bit about how he saw Ray Bradbury at Comic Con one year and the awe and respect that that man received there. Fowkes told us that an artist trying to reach in and touch the gut of feeling in people like Ray Bradbury did needs to have some ideas on how to do so. Visual artists have a responsibility to create mood, storytelling, environments, and space that draws the audience in. A few key things are:
- Audience engages with character and character expression.
- The audience has to understand the environment in a glance. Sometimes they only get two seconds to look at it (like in movies).
- Important elements are SHAPE, LINE, and SPACE.
- circles are lovable and comfortable
- squares are solid and stable
- triangles are dangerous
- organic is interesting
- horizontal is peaceful
- vertical is strong
- diagonal is for action/is dynamic
- should reflect the emotion
- You should do color studies–thousands of them!
- Practice! Prepare!