German or Polish?

I had the good fortune to travel to Góra, the town my grandmother's family left when they emigrated to Michigan. They spoke German while some of our cousin's families spoke Polish. The nearby Rheda River served as the boundary for early partitionings of Poland. Grandma was being diplomatic when she told me that we were Prussian.


Fletcher Who?

This term I am teaching Color with Intent. While we're looking at all sorts of facets of color theory and application, one of the things we're doing is looking at Frank Morley Fletcher's color system. Fletcher approached color like music, suggesting that palettes should be limited to a specific "key," one based on intervals around a twelve-hued color wheel the same way musical keys are based upon specific intervals based on a chromatic scale. 

While I was familiar with Fletcher's theory, I never actually applied his theory to my own work. Here is my first attempt as applying his color system to a sketch of the Dachstein Massiv in Austria.


I did it in the "key" of "yellow clockwise," or "Y>," the main color triad of which is yellow, blue and red-violet; primary accents are red-orange and green; complements are yellow-orange and blue violet:


Fletcher's premise (if I understand it correctly) is that while the three colors of the primary triad can be combined to create the darkest neutral, any other color mixing must be done only with colors immediately adjacent or nearly adjacent to one another on the specific color wheel. This limited mixing prevents "promiscuous color mixing" (Fletcher's words, not mine), while ensuring color harmony. 

While I stuck to these parameters when mixing my color, my specific application of color may have been "promiscuous." I layered up color, doing underpaintings with temperatures contrary to the final color temperatures I was working toward. In other words, I ultimately wanted the distant mountain ridges to be cool and the foreground ridge to be warm, so my underpaintings were temperature opposites — warm distant ridges with a cool foreground. In layering up my color this way, I combined colors across from one another on my color wheel, not adjacent to one another. 


But before thinking about color or temperature, I start with a little value sketch.

Then I sketch out the image using Prismacolor — in this case on recycled paper.


The following are the steps I used to build up color in ways to add a translucent richness to the final sketch.


Watermill in Westfalen

As flat as Münsterland is, the area around Nottuln is wonderfully hilly. The Stevern flows through this area and provided power for this gristmill. 
   This piece was a challenge to do because of the perspective. While the buildings themselves were properly square (as in square and plumb), the channelized river was anything but square, making the linear perspective fun! The subtle value shifts on the mill, especially with the planes of the roof, contrasted to those of the walls, were difficult to deal with in a fifteen minute sketch like this.

Forget Paris! I'll Take Berlin Anytime!

Berlin has become an even more incredible city since the wall came down and the capitol was relocated there from Bonn. I love the cultural layers of Berlin, its various quarters, the sights, the restaurants. 
     This quick sketch was on the Spree River looking toward the cathedral. It was interesting to me how its domes mimicked the tops of the trees, the broad arc of the bridge and even the shape of the boat in the lower right.

The Rural Coast

There was something about this ramshackle outbuilding in Apalachicola that spoke to me. It was still in use, though nothing about it was squared up. The bare trees and electrical wires provided spindly contrasts to the skewed planes of the building. 

Barbecue Aside...

I think that the only thing New Riegel, Ohio, is truly known for is its barbecue. (And if you haven't eaten it, it is really worth the trip!) I grew up near New Riegel and it was always a treat when Dad brought home carryout for dinner (though this never happened on a Saturday evening because we didn't dare to go to Mass Sunday morning with garlic breath). 
   The land that All Saints is on was donated to the Church by Landolin Brosmer, a German immigrant who helped settle the area. The uncanny personal fact about this is that Herr Brosmer is a distant relative of my wife (whose entire family is still in Germany)! The world is, indeed, small!
   I enjoyed the value contrast of the headstones against the dark row of pines, and the contrast of the architectural forms with the organic shapes. 

Still Exotic to This Yankee

I have been in Savannah for eleven years now and palm trees still seem exotic, if not downright strange. When I walk Winslow in the woods it's easy to imagine that we're tromping through a jungle because, instead of spruces and birches, the woods here are full of palms!
     I did this sketch on Cockspur Island. The artistic challenge for me was to try and capture the intensity of the midday light in black and white, striving for a subtropical look with none of the color so strongly associated with scenes like this.