February 2017

February 2017

In This Issue:

  • A New Year of Certification – Take the Plunge
  • Introduction to Certification
  • Overall Effect
  • Certification Critiques – A Look at a Selection of 2016 ADP/CDA Entries
  • Certification eZine Index – Articles You May Have Missed

A New Year of Certification – Take the Plunge

By Sue Pruett MDA – Certification Chair

Happy New Year! It’s also a new year for the SDP Certification Program. There is still time to order a portfolio, and to paint an entry for this year. The last day to purchase the portfolio is February 28, 2017, and submissions must be postmarked no earlier than March 13, 2017 and no later than April 10, 2017. Even though you are required to paint your entry entirely on your own, that doesn’t mean you are alone on this journey. Over the years the Certification Committee has provided a library of knowledge and information to help you achieve your goals. You can find a vast amount of information in the following locations:
  • Certification eZine: Produced three to four times per year via email and on the Certification page of the SDP website
  • Certification Corner articles: Published in The Decorative Painter magazine
  • Certification Videos: Master Decorative Artists demonstrate theory and techniques, available in the Member Only section of the SDP website
  • ADP/CDA/MDA Quest to Excellence Facebook group: Your forum to ask questions and read others’ questions along with critiques of passing entries
  • Certification Web Page: This is the part of the SDP website where you can find applications, design samples, and other information about Certification Program
  • Certification Store: Past articles that have been in the Certification Corner of The Decorative Painter magazine, as well as CDs with pictures and critiques of CDA and MDA passing entries can be purchased in the Certification Store on the SDP website
If you have the desire to improve your painting skills, this program has been developed to help you do that. If this is something you have been considering, but do not know how to get started, please read the next article explaining how the program works. If you have any questions regarding the Certification Program, please email me suepruett@artapprenticeonline.com or call 760-721-1671 PST.

Introduction to Certification

It is extremely important that each applicant understands the work submitted must be entirely his/her own. In preparing and working on the entry, the applicant may not seek assistance or critique from anyone, including teachers, art students or friends.
Other important guidelines and requirements:
  • All designs belong to the Certification Program and cannot be used for any other purpose.
  • All applicants are assigned a number. The number is to be painted on the back of the surface; the judges only know this entry by a number.
  • Each entry must be submitted on the surface provided in the kit, except that the applicant may substitute a panel of comparable size and quality inside the frame provided. If colored pencil, pastel or watercolor is chosen as the medium, the applicant will provide appropriate paper. The official kit and frame will still need to be used.
  • A passing score is 75% based on the Standard 75% set in 1985.
  • The portfolio cost is $30 and surface fee is $50.
  • All applicants receive a written critique from the judging team.
  • Passing entries are announced each year at the SDP conference

Overall Effect – It All Works Together

By Lisa Price MDA

The Certification program is a test of your abilities but the specific criterion that is being evaluated can be applied to any painting whether it is being scored as a test or not. Before many artists begin a painting, they already have a distinct notion of how they THINK their artwork should appear when they’re finished. Then when the painting doesn’t turn out exactly how they planned, they are disappointed. Many painters don’t use the knowledge and tools of information that are readily available to them. They just set themselves on automatic pilot and begin painting without any guidelines. Of course nothing takes the place of practice. You must paint often in order to recognize your weaknesses and improve growth. Painting is a never-ending journey!

Before a painting can be started one must have a conceptual idea. You must have a plan and a method to execute your plan. Sometimes you can dive right in and have a happy accident, but most of the time it takes careful planning.

A good composition will incorporate a pleasing layout of shapes and lines, balance of values and intensities, good color harmony and balance, a dominant color and nice repetition of colors, changes in temperature, attention to detail, and on and on and on! I must admit at times there is so much to think about it makes my head hurt! But let’s take one thing at a time. In the case of the Certification design, the concept is chosen for you and you must make your decisions based on the line drawing provided in the portfolio.

Center of Interest
The first thing I look at when viewing a line drawing is where to develop the center of interest area. The center of interest area is sometimes called the focal area or focal point. Just remember it should be an AREA and not one object or thing. This should be a painting’s main subject area and everything else in the painting should support it. The viewer’s attention should be drawn toward this area first and then move through the painting with the help of the supporting areas.

A good choice for the center of interest area is often in the heaviest part of the design, but this is not an absolute. You can also use the Golden Mean Rule to find the center of interest area by folding the pattern into thirds lengthwise and crosswise. The heaviest pattern area will usually fall on one of the four points of intersection. This is also not an absolute.

The center of interest area should be well developed and have the most contrast, variety and the greatest detail with the sharpest focus. Variety occurs through opposition and contrast such as placing a cool color against a warm color. In a warm color scheme make the focal point cooler. In a dark color scheme, make the focal point lighter.

In planning the center of interest area be sure to think of the special element of a design. There should be a front plane, middle plane and back plane. The front plane normally will have the objects with the widest range of contrast and values (center of interest area). In the middle plane, the objects still have detail but things are not as sharp and the color not as intense. Think of the middle plane as a connector between the front and back plane. The back plane should be toned and painted with less intensity. Softer edges, cooler color, less contrast and less detail occur in the back plane.

Light Source
Light source is very important in developing a painting. Always be consistent with your light source. The choice of a single light source is the easiest, especially when painting for a test. The decision of an upper right light source or a left hand light source also makes it easier for a test. To complicate the light source when painting for a test is really asking for trouble. Some artists can pull off painting a multi-light source beautifully, but most cannot!

It is very useful to set up your objects in a box and shine a single light on the objects and observe the light and cast shadows that are formed. Try different angles with the light. Nothing is better than observing from life. A good rule of thumb in choosing a light source is if the bulk of the design is on the right and blank area to the left, then use a right hand light source and cast shadows to the left but this is also not an absolute. When painting a still life, make sure your light is consistent and well developed.

Color management is achieved through the effective use of a color scheme, repetition, balance, temperatures, tints and accents. The three properties of color are hue, value and intensity. The most important factor in a good color is good value. To me, value is the hardest concept to grasp. But remember, the purpose of color is to create harmony within your painting and evoke a mood to the viewer.

Learning to use color effectively is one of the most challenging aspects of becoming an artist. Mastering this process starts with understanding the terms and concepts of color theory. Then it’s a matter of applying these principles to your art. There are many excellent books on the market regarding color theory. I encourage you to study the concept of color.

The color wheel can help you create a color scheme and a plan for your painting. Limiting your palette is a good idea and look for objects in the design that will limit certain color choices. Once you determine your color scheme make sure you have one color that dominates throughout the painting. You also need to decide if you want the painting to be high key or low key. Also remember to include your background in your color scheme. The background can make or break your painting.

A balance of colors throughout the painting is needed, and a repetition of all colors used is essential for flow. If a color stands alone, or is isolated, and not repeated, the color flow is disrupted. Repeated colors must have balance.

One color from the color scheme should be the dominate color. To keep a color dominate, it can be used to cover more space, make it more intense than the others or use it in tints, tones and shades. This is also a way of repeating a color. Think of repetition of color as an echo. Accents can also help carry color. Use cool accents/tints in shaded areas and warm accents in the middle value areas, or turning area.

Value Management
Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color. Value creates form. Without the proper values, objects can appear flat and lacking shape. I mentioned this above but I want to stress that value is the hardest property of color to grasp. It is the most critical technical principle in painting and the most difficult to master.

First one must learn the placement of value within each of the four basic forms (cube, sphere, cylinder and cone) in order to achieve the correct shape of the object. Then you must create value change within your overall painting in order to guide the viewer through it.

Most of what the eye sees is in the middle value range, but we must learn to see all values and learning to translate values correctly is one of the most difficult skills for an artist to develop. Many students try to substitute color for value but then the relationships of light and dark simply doesn’t work. You can actually paint with correct values and wrong color and produce a pleasing painting. That is how important value is.

Munsell’s value scale is based on a scale of 0 = black to 10 = white. There are 9 values of gray between 0 and 10. In order to create form within an object, you must use a minimum of three values (light, medium and dark). An object painted with five to seven correct values will create even better form. I encourage every student to practice creating value scales and painting forms. I promise you this practice will prove to be crucial lessons in your growth as an artist.

Light values will appear lighter when placed next to a dark value and vice versa. Remember that value is relative to what is around it. Your light source can determine the values within your painting because values create space. A wide range of values can create a strong center of interest. Objects close in value will recede. The contrast or lack of contrast between elements can create a visual journey through the painting.

When planning your painting, always remember that the background of your painting has a value as well. It will set the tone of your painting and will determine if it is a high key or low key painting. A high is a light background and a low key is a dark background. Many artists use a middle value for the background. I have been guilty of it myself. This is one of the hardest backgrounds to be successful with because it makes it very hard to create depth and drama throughout the painting.

The intensity of a color or hue is the brightness or dullness of the pigment. Understanding intensity can really give your painting a boost. But you must know how to use intensity.

A bright hue is a high intensity color (cadmium yellow or ultramarine blue, for example). When you neutralize a color, you are lowering the intensity and creating“dullness” to the color. Earth colors straight from the tube are a low intensity color (raw umber or burnt umber).

There are several ways to neutralize or lower the intensity of a pure hue. One of my favorite ways is to mix the color with its complement. Other ways to lower intensity is to add an earth tone to the color or to add a neighboring color from the color wheel. Adding black to a color will also lower the intensity and can create a shade, but it may also change the hue to a completely different color. Adding gray will lower the intensity of a color often times without changing the value, if you use the same value of gray as the hue you are neutralizing.

When you add white to an intense color, you will lower the intensity but you are also changing the value and cooling the hue. Intensity, like value, is relative to what is surrounding it. For example, a yellow-orange pumpkin will appear more intense next to blue-violet plums. You must experiment with intensity in order to make an educated choice when deciding how to neutralize color. Intensity studies are great practice too.

Good blending skills should produce a gradation of values from light to dark which are smooth in appearance without blotches or visible value lines. Over-blending creates a loss of contrast and/or color clarity (muddy). Under-blending creates areas that appear as stripes or lines instead of a smooth gradation of color and/or value from light to dark.

Learning good blending skills takes time, good brushes and a keen eye. I like to squint to see the values and blending edges. Many times I use a reducing glass or you can hold the painting in the mirror or turn it upside down to view it. You can also look through a piece of red or green acetate to determine under-blended areas. But blending is really a technical skill and nothing takes the place of practice, practice and more practice!

Line Work & Detail
The line work and detail can add sparkle to your painting if handled in the right manner. Sloppy or thick lines and dots can ruin a beautiful work of art. The most detail should be in the center of interest area. The supporting areas of the painting should have detail that is less demanding in attention. The sky is the limit as to what you can add in detail but remember, in submitting for Certification, what you add will be judged.

Background & Frame
The background should support and enhance the overall composition. Although I’ve left this section to the end, the background should be one of the first aspects that is taken in consideration in planning your conceptual idea. In the case of the Certification Still Life, the background and frame must be stained. The floral must be painted and the addition of leafing must be executed. The stroke tray must be painted.

The finish should be skillfully applied and provide protection to the painting. When I first began entering Certification, the entries were overly varnished and almost had a decoupage type finish on them. Thank goodness that is no longer the case because the painting can turn discolored in time with so much applied varnish. A good application of varnish which sufficiently covers the painting and contains no impurities is important.


Certification Critiques – A Look at a Selection of 2016 ADP/CDA Entries

By Sue Pruett MDA

Pat Hull ADP

This entry was painted with colored pencils by Pat Hull ADP. Pat chose to make the lower left container a glass vase, and is done extremely well. The red and green complimentary color scheme adds a touch of excitement (vibration) around the entire design, and using a limited palette makes color repetition much easier. Each section is a separate still life and is judged one section at a time, although, when the applicant chooses to make the entire painting one composition with color flow, balance, intensity, value, etc. and then the 'overall effect' of the entire painting is critiqued. This option lends itself for more success in the 'overall effect' as a whole. The upper right light source is continued throughout, notice all cast shadows fall to the left side of each object. Cast shadows are not a requirement at this level but notice how they convey the objects are occupying 'real space'. If you chose not to add cast shadows you will not be marked down but please add resting shadows so the objects are not floating.

Diana Tyner ADP

This passing 2016 ADP Still Life was painted by Diana Tyner ADP from McKinney, Texas. Diana has chosen a center light source for each of these vignettes. Notice the lightest area is in the center of each object, and the shadows fall directly behind the objects. It is important when painting a still life to make sure the light source and shadows work together to depict which direction the light source is coming from.

Blending and values work together to create form and dimension in each object. The size of the item will determine how many values are needed to create the form so it looks three-dimensional. Diana has exhibited good blending skills and knowledge of value and form.

Intensity is another aspect of a painting that can be distracting if not handled well. Looking at only the intensity of color, notice how the eye travels around the painting without stopping abruptly. The intensities are equal throughout.

There is a nice balance of light and dark values around the entire painting. This helps to keep the eye flowing from one vignette to another. The judging criterion on the ADP test does not require that each vignette flow with the next, although Diana did a nice job carrying the eye from one to another. The butterfly was added to the vase and was handled very well. The frame and liner are a nice complement to the painting.

Kathy Miller ADP

This passing 2016 ADP Still Life was painted by Kathy Miller ADP from Southern Pines, North Carolina. Kathy has shown the judges that she understands how to use value and color to create a dynamic painting. Notice how the subjects appear fresh and alive due to color and intensity. Her use of green throughout helps to move the eye around the painting from one vignette to another. Kathy has displayed excellent attention to detail in the vein lines, tints and accents on leaves. It’s very obvious she understands how to make objects dimensional with good blending and value skills.

Debra Pool ADP

Congratulations to Debra Pool ADP for passing her 2016 entry for the Accredited Decorative Painter category. Debra’s done a nice job with her intensities flowing equally around the entire design. Repetition of color has been handled well; notice how the colors flow around the entire design. Values also have been handled well; there is a nice balance of light and dark values throughout the entire painting. Stroke control is very important in this category; strokes and line-work are consistent and well formed, and flow nicely into the stems. Frame and border treatment are a nice addition to the overall effect.

Shirley Shouse ADP

Congratulations to Shirley Shouse ADP from Omaha, Nebraska. Good job Shirley! Shirley's got a wonderful overall effect on this painting. The intensities flow nicely around the board without one taking over the other. The color placement and values flow nice and keep the eye moving around looking at all elements. Strokework is consistent; comma strokes are well formed with a head, body and tail. Line-work is consistent and graceful. Shirley has added strokework on the flowers, and cross-hatching on the heart. Both add interest and are well done. The frame is a little darker value of the background and complements the painting.

Ayako Sakemi CDA

This 2016 passing CDA Still Life entry was painted by Ayako Sakemi CDA from Saitama, Japan. Ayako chose a split complement color scheme of red, blue-green, and yellow-green. Yes, I see some yellow in there but you can sneak other colors into a color scheme in small increments. The yellow is not an entire object but part of another. When we learn to use color schemes effectively we also learn how to break the rules to create a beautiful painting. Choose a color scheme but also if you need to add other colors here and there, within an object, go for it.

Using complementary (and near complement) colors makes a bold statement and draws the viewer into the painting with strong temperature contrast. One thing to be aware of with complementary colors is to keep the intensities similar so one does not over power the other. The red stands out first due to the temperature and color contrast from the background. If the background were a soft pink the green would stand out first, which would not be as effective for the flowers. If any of that is confusing, please ask questions.

Notice the value of the container is similar to the background. This allows the large object to be seen but not stand out or take focus away from the flowers and leaves. Large objects are tricky to deal with unless you want that object to be the focal area, although remember a focal area is an entire area encompassing several objects, not just one object.

The white filler flowers have been handled very well. Notice how they are similar in value to the background without being lost into the background. The colors have been repeated throughout the design; even a little ladybug or frog could jump from green to green, red to red, and white to white, light to light, and dark to dark. The cast shadows to the left of the objects are consistent with the upper right light source. Remember to pick ‘one’ light source and stick to it.

Noriko Hayashi CDA

Even at first glance, there is no question this is a passing entry. The use of color, value, temperature, and intensities work well together and create a harmonious painting. The cool light background sets the tone for how this painting will be played out. Cool temperatures, low intensity, and light values used in the back plane certainly help items to recede. Warm temperatures, high intensity, and darker values are used in the frontal planes to help those objects to advance. Part of the still life test is to demonstrate how to create depth within the composition. This is achieved by utilizing each of the mentioned properties of color. Notice how the most forward objects are opposite in temperature to the background.

Notice how the container is similar in temperature and color to the background, which helps the flowers to be seen first. If the container was dark in value and very colorful it would probably compete with the flowers. This is in relationship to the entire painting, this does not mean that in another color scheme the container would have to be this light, dull, or etc. Remember it’s all relative to background temperature, value, and how intense/dark/light the other surrounding objects are.

The blending skills are excellent, along with form, and values. The only suggestion I could make is to have a stronger focal area. The eye is drawn to the bright yellow tulips and tomato instead of one area of the painting. When choosing a focal area remember the rule of thirds, if you are not familiar with this we can explore this in another posting, just let me know if you want to discuss this. 

Certification eZine Index – Articles You May Have Missed

There is a vast amount of information located within the Certification eZines. Here is an index of articles listed by the date of the eZine. This way you can find exactly the article that will help you the most.

November 2016

  • The Line Drawing – Can It Be Altered? - Marian Jackson MDA
  • Painting Transparent Objects - Sue Pruett MDA
  • The Color Map – Part Two of the Critique Form - Marian Jackson MDA
  • Q&A Stroke Category Questions - Sue Pruett MDA
August 2016
  • New Certified Members – Results from 2016 Certification Back of the Board - Marian Jackson MDA
  • What is the Difference Between Intensity and Temperature - Sue Pruett MDA
  • Why I Entered the SDP Certification Program - Pat Hull ADP
  • Videos:
    - Master Floral – What Not To Do - Sue Pruett MDA
    - Master Still Life – What Not To Do - Sue Pruett MDA
    - Master Stroke – What Not To Do – Sue Pruett MDA
    - Repeating Color – Marian Jackson MDA
April 2016
  • They Want What? Strokework – Kay Baranowski MDA
  • Liner Brushwork – Susan Abdella MDA
  • Value Control – Certification Critique – Sharon Hamilton MDA
  • Intensity – Certification Critique – Sue Pruett MDA
  • Stroke Control – Certification Critique – Susan Abdella MDA
  • Color Management – Certification Critique – Sue Pruett MDA
January 2016
  • Tips on Leafing – Ginko Otaka MDA
  • Paper Selection for Colored Pencil – Marian Jackson MDA
  • Accredited Decorative Painter FAQ
  • Videos
    - Three Ways of Cutting Gold Leaf – Ginko Otaka MDA
    - How to Apply Leaf Sizing – Ginko Otaka MDA
June 2015
  • What Exactly is a Shadow and What Caused It? – Susan Abdella MDA
  • Picturing Your Painting Through the Camera Lens – Joyce Sieve CDA
  • Test Your Knowledge – Quiz Questions and Answers
  • Video

    - Adding Shadows to Still Life Designs – Cheri Rol MDA

February 2015
  • The Difference Between Color Harmony and Color Management – Sue Pruett MDA
  • Importance of Value – What is Value? – Susan Abdella MDA
  • Passing Entries Photos and Critiques
  • Test Your Knowledge - Quiz and Answers
October 2014
  • Conference Wrap Up/New Certified Members
  • Where to Begin – Dolores Lennon MDA
  • Tracing a Pattern – Junko Nasui MDA
  • Photos and Critiques of Passing Entries
  • Test Your Knowledge – Quiz and Answers
April 2014
  • Looking at Cast Shadows – Susan Abdella MDA
  • Passing Entries Photos and Critiques
  • Test Your Knowledge – Quiz and Answers