Making Marks

Whistler Evening, 18x24, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

There's no doubt that some paintings are more fun to make than others. Some are way, way, more fun than others. As I finished a fun one, I thought that it would be worth taking a minute to write down what it was that made it so enjoyable.

For me, its all about variety. If I had to follow the same process for every painting I made, I wouldn't have lasted long as a painter. Luckily, we are our own bosses in the studio, and we shall do as we please, right? 

This time I decided to play with making marks. I usually use brushes, but paint can be applied with all kinds of interesting tools. I was recently inspired to use palette knives and I've been playing with them ever since.

In this painting I used:


  • edge of the palette knife to establish the overall patterns in the under-painting
  • curved strokes smeared with a large palette knife to create the mountains
  • broken strokes with a smaller palette knife to create patterns of rocks and trees
  • fan brushed scumble to add texture to the rocks
  • large flat brush for the foreground snow and the flaming sky
  • edge of a small flat brush to add sunlit details in trees and rocks


    Each tool makes different marks, which are most interesting when they are left fresh and distinct. The bigger variety of marks, the painting is more interesting to look at. 

    Here is a beginning of another painting. where I experimented with mark making. This is really fun! 

    In case you are wondering about the theme of these paintings, I am on a roll with painting scenes from the Whistler area for the Crystal Lodge Art Gallery.  I will spend an afternoon painting in this beautiful space in the heart of the Whistler Village. Please come visit if you can. I will bring a bunch of brand new paintings with me. I wrote more bout that in my monthly newsletter, and I will make sure to post pics on social media.




    Whistler Mountain, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



    I never remember my New Year's resolutions, but I'll try to remember this one:



    Increase the joy of painting by using a variety of mark-making tools. 


    After all, isn't our job as artists to make a mark?

    Happy New Year my artsy friends!


    Tatjana


    One Way to Make a Painting - Silhouette


    Diamond Head Descent, 20x24, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



    There must be a million ways to make a painting - how to pick one? I ask myself this every time I put a fresh canvas on the easel.

    More often than not, the subject suggests the process. In this case, for example, the subject is a snowy sunset scene, which means that there is:


    • a lot of snow (very light values)
    • a lot of sky (even more of very light values)
    • a lot of back-lit trees (very dark values)


    In search of mid-values I find some shadows in the snow and distant hills, but still, there is a very narrow range of light lights and a very narrow range of dark darks. In photography, this is called a silhouette.

    The main characteristic of silhouettes is that the outlines of dark shapes are stark and sharp, so they need to be very pleasing to look at.

    This means that the shapes of trees in this painting - both the individual ones and the overall shapes of clumps of trees, needed to be drawn with a lot of attention. I tried to make all the shapes interesting, especially the largest trees, by making them appear playful, almost human-like.

    I also designed the overall patterns to lead the eye all around the scene and toward the point of the biggest interest, which for me was the gleaming ocean.

    I debated the inclusion of human figures and decided to go with it. The two hikers add to the feeling of wonder that I experience when I am on the mountain. Especially when the sun starts setting and  the cool colors of the snow are lit by the flaming light from the sky. I’ll never get tired from views like this one, which can be seen descending from the Diamond Head lookout via the Elfin Lakes Trail near Whistler. The ocean view is of the Howe Sound Islands with the Vancouver Island in the background.

    Paintings with such a particular lighting requirements pose an interesting challenge, and for me, a challenge is always a good thing. It's an opportunity to solve yet another puzzle. If not exactly a million, there are many ways to make a painting, and I am sure that more that one of them would do the job.

    Happy puzzle-solving!

    Tatjana