April 2014

April 2014

In This Issue:

  • Only a Month to Go
  • Looking at Cast Shadows
  • Passing Entries
  • Answers to the Quiz from the Last Issue
  • Test Your Knowledge

Only a Month to Go

By Dianne Crowther MDA, Certification Chair

Well, only a month to go and we will all be together again at Conference. I can’t wait to see all of my friends from around the world. When you get to see them only once a year, I consider that such a gift. With the venue in San Diego this year, we will be sure to have great weather, great restaurants, great attractions, and most of all, the best Conference in many years. I am so looking forward to it.

We have made quite a few changes to the Certification Program in the three years that I have been chair. I hope you like the changes, because we made these at your request. For the first time ever we created a video that shows exactly how we judge the boards in the judging room. This three-part video describes the submission and mailing process and then shows judges critiquing a Still Life and a Stroke submission from last year. A huge thank-you goes to Sue Pruett MDA for the hundreds of hours she spent editing the video, and another huge thank-you goes to Gabby Hunter CDA for the help she gave Sue on this project. This project was truly a labor of love, and I am so grateful to these ladies for making our project come true.

To view these videos, please go to:
  • Introduction to SDP Certification Program
  • SDP Certification Still Life Critique Demonstration
  • SDP Certification Stroke Critique Demonstration
View the Certification Video Library»

I am sure you will enjoy them and will have a better understanding of how the judging is done.

Another change that we have made is that this year you can submit in the CDA Still Life category in three new mediums. Besides acrylic and oils you can now submit in watercolor, colored pencils, and pastels. The judges are really looking forward to these submissions.

Finally, we are trying once again to offer one-on-one 15-minute conferences with a judge in order to help you understand your critique better so you know where you need further study and where you are doing well. These times are limited, so be sure to sign up at the Certification Booth for a time that will work for you.

There were several other changes this year, including cost-saving measures, rewording “Instructions to the Applicants” to include the new mediums, and printing a new brochure with updated information. All of these measures were done to help you take the mystery out of the judging process and open up the program so artists who work in other mediums have the opportunity to join in the “Quest for Excellence.”

If you submit this year and I don’t have the pleasure of calling your name, please do not get discouraged or have hurt feelings; it only means that you did not answer all of the questions in order to get a passing grade on the test. Think about all of the Olympians this year who did not come home with a medal. This does not mean they got upset and quit; it just means that they now have to go back to practicing so they can compete in four years. At least in our program you are able to submit every year instead of every four years! Some athletes never get to the Olympics after years of practice, and those who do may never get to the medal stand. Statistically you have a better chance of completing your goal than they do. So let’s get going and make this a banner year for passing scores!

I cannot believe this is my last year as Certification chair. These last three years have been a blast, and I would like to thank everyone who served on my committees; they gave and gave and gave without complaint, they worked as a team, and they fulfilled all of their duties with smiles. We raised money, we repeatedly asked for donations (which were gratefully given), we helped each other with projects, we (MDA Design Committee, chaired by Cheri Rol MDA) designed patterns for the coming years, but most of all we had fun. I am leaving my chair with a huge sense of fulfillment and gratitude.

Thank you again for this honor. Hugs and best wishes,

Dianne Crowther MDA
Certification Chair

Looking at Cast Shadows

By Susan Abdella MDA ©2014

What exactly is a shadow and what causes it?
A shadow is an area that is created by an object that interferes or blocks the path of light, thus creating an area void of light, which in turn creates a shadow. Light rays travel in a straight line and will continue to do so unless something solid stops the rays; when this happens, a shadow is created.

Without light there is no shadow. Shadows are formed and influenced by light—not the lack of light. The light source will dictate the strength, size, and direction of the shadow.

Cast Shadows—on a Flat Surface
A cast shadow is created by an object that blocks or interferes with the path of light and throws a shadow on the surface it is resting on, or onto a surface close enough to receive the shadow.

Cast Shadow falls directly across the light source.

Properties and the Effects of Light (on cast shadows)
Light Source Direction: In the photos below, the light is coming from the front left side. Turn the sphere into a clock and the light will be coming in at about 10:30.

The cast shadow will always fall opposite the light source and will mimic the shape of the object casting it (in this example the sphere).

Cast shadows are transparent and contain value changes within the shadow. The color of the cast shadow is determined by the color of the object upon which it falls. In other words, if the object—say, an orange—is resting on a green table, the shadow of the orange will be green, but darker and duller than the table.

Light held farther away from subject

When the light is farther from the subject, the cast shadow becomes lighter and diffused (softer). The edges of the shadow are softer, and four distinct values are easily seen in the shadow.

Consistency—All shadows in the same image will be consistent

Important: These two photos show the difference in cast shadows when the light is farther from the subject (top) or closer (bottom). The top photo shows the values between the lights and darks are closer; the cast shadows are softer and elongated. In the lower photos where the light is closer, you see stronger contrast between lights and darks, shadows are stronger, edges are more defined, and they are closer. But most important here is the consistency. The three shapes are pretty much on the same plane (lined up and in a row) and their shadows are all consistent with the same light source in their direction, value, and intensity. This is very important to indicate one light source.

The eggs below are all on a different plane, but the shadow direction is consistent with one light source. Notice the overall value differences among the shadows and how they become lighter and fainter as they move farther from the light.

  • A shadow must have light.
  • An object interfering with the light rays creates a shadow; it is an area without light.
  • Cast shadows fall directly across from the light source; they take on the shape of the object causing the shadow.
  • How close the subject is to the light and the light's intensity will determine the strength of the shadow.
  • Shadows create contrast with the highlight areas.
  • Shadows create direction and can lead the eye around a painting.
  • Don't paint black shadows. For more on shadows, visit my shadow class, "Understanding Shadows," at http://aaoclassroom.com.

Passing Entries

Here are a few examples of passing entries that you may view and study what is necessary to pass. The required score for a passing entry is 75 percent. This allows for a 25 percent margin for error. Along with the photos there is a brief description of what makes this painting a passing entry, but remember that there is a 25 percent margin for error.

Passing 2007 CDA Still Life: Hiroko Kibushi CDA, from Saitama, Japan

There is a well-established center of interest that is an area and not just one element. The tints and accents of reds help carry the colors through the design.

The shadows are consistent with the light source and show three values. They start out darker near the object that is casting the shadow and fade as they move out from the object that is casting the shadow.

Notice how the colors dance throughout this design, and this has created balance and harmony. The filler flowers have a variety of shapes, values, and intensities, which creates interest. They have less detail as they move toward the background and away from the center of interest.

The gold band around the container has a good shape and helps to carry the gold through the painting.

The pomegranate that is closest to the container is a little bit brighter and lighter since it is closer to the center of interest area. The cut pomegranate still has a variety of values and intensities, but it does not stand out and take away from the center of interest area. It settles nicely down on the table.

Beautiful attention to the small details such as the leaf veins, pomegranate ends, and the filler flowers.

Passing 2007 CDA Still Life: Naoko Sawai CDA, from Hyogo, Japan

The center of interest has been well established with bright colors and lighter values. Notice how the intensities of the bright colors get a little duller as they move out from the center of interest.

The leaves are a variety of colors that create interest within the design. They are warmer closer to the center of interest and get cooler as they move out from that area and get closer to the temperature of the background.

The pomegranates are located on the front plane but out of the area of the center of interest. You notice them, but they are lower in intensity, values are not as strong, and there is less detail.

The shadows display a consistent light source. They also show three values. The reflection of red from the pomegranate on the container helps bring interest to a normally dull gray container.

Tints and accents of color help to carry the color throughout the design. The frame and liner support the composition. Very clean and neat appearance.

Passing 2011 CDA Stroke: I-Fen Chang CDA, from Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

This is a style of rosemaling that is carried throughout the design. There are many small strokes plus very fine linework. It is done with bright colors on a light background and they work well together with all the added details to break up the large elements. This has created harmony. Nice balance of color. Graceful linework that has the appearance of being pulled in one continuous motion of the brush. This is a very fun and exciting interpretation of this design. As you view this piece you find more interesting things happening in every element.

There is not a center of interest established, which is not a requirement for the Stroke category.

Nice addition of strokes to the frame liner. The frame and liner are in the color scheme and help support the design. There is a clean and neat appearance, which is the first thing that the judges notice.

Passing 2011 CDA Stroke: Pil Ran Song CDA, from Seoul, South Korea

A center of interest has been established in this design, which is not necessary in the Stroke category.

Nice added details to the large heart that help break up such a large element. Graceful linework that has the appearance of being pulled in one continuous motion of the brush.

The large heart area could have used a little of the red color to help with the flow of color just a little better. The red color dances throughout the rest of the design nicely.

Even spacing between comma-strokes. Strokes along a line flow gracefully toward the line but do not touch it. The colors harmonize nicely together.

Notice how the red colors are brighter in the center of interest area and lower as the move away from that area. The outside flowers are not lost, but they settle nicely toward the background. The frame liner is in the color scheme and helps support the design.

Passing 2011 MDA Stoke: O Chisuk MDA, from Seoul, South Korea

This is a dramatic interpretation of this design with the use of the intense orange, dark outside edges, and center light effect. Notice how the background has been prepared with the lighter gray in the middle, flowing toward a well-blended darker gray to the outer edges. Good balance of color and the colors harmonize nicely together.

Beautiful blending skills and stroke control. The strokes along a line flow gracefully toward the line but do not touch it. There is equal spacing between the strokes. The majority of comma-strokes are double-loaded strokes that appear to be done in one continuous motion of the brush.

Notice how the intensities and values lessen as your eyes move away from the center of interest. Nice attention of added details such as the crosshatching. The dots are well shaped with equal spacing between them and gradate equally in size.

The background and frame colors support the design. The addition of the dark orange border line helps to carry that color to the outside edges. Very clean and neat appearance.

Passing 2011 MDA Floral: Takae Konishi CDA, from Okayama, Japan

This is a beautiful floral painting on a light background. There is a well-established center of interest, which is a requirement for the Floral category. Notice how the elements lower in value and intensity gradually as they move away from the center of interest. They also get closer to the temperature of the background as they move out of that area.

There is a good color flow that has created balance and harmony. The colors dance throughout this design by tints and accents. Notice how the pink flowers have tints of red and yellows where the yellow flowers have tints of red and pinks. The green leaves pick up tints of all the color in the color scheme.

Nice attention to details such as flower centers, leaf veins, filler flowers, and the addition of water drops. The filler flowers have a nice variety of values that give them form. The silver leafing has been antiqued to bring it closer to the value, intensity, and temperature of the background. The rouging of soft colors to the background helps with the color flow and supports the design. Beautiful blending skills. Very clean and neat appearance.

Passing 2011 MDA Still Life: Hidemi Katsukura MDA, from Aichi, Japan

This is a sweet interpretation of this design. There is a well-established center of interest. The bear is adorable with all the texture added. It was a good choice for the center of interest since it is the area that has the most happening in it.

The placement of shadows is consistent with the light source and they show three values. The added details such as the roses on the box lid and band on the balloon have added interest and help with the flow of color. There is a good balance of color, and the colors harmonize well together. Notice how the glass cup is far from the center of interest yet it has highlights. The shines are there but not as bright or light as the highlights closer to the center of interest.

The shading to the outside edges helps fill that large empty space in the background and keeps the focus toward the center of interest. Very neat and fun painting to view.

Answers to the Quiz from the Last Issue

How important is it to paint your entry entirely on your own without discussing it with anyone else?
It is very important because this is a test of your painting abilities and knowledge. Others may give you wrong advice. If the judges would find this out, it would be grounds for disqualification.

When painting a Still Life that has an apple in the foreground, does it have to be red?
No, unless it is a color in your color scheme. Otherwise it would be counted as an isolated color. Apples do come in a variety of colors; green, yellow, dark burgundy, reddish orange.

The line drawing shows an oval as a berry. Can you make that berry a raspberry or a blueberry?
Yes, as long as you keep the oval shape and not cover any of the design around it. You can add lines but not take them away.

Can you change the direction that a flower is facing?
No, since that would be altering the flow of the design. The design has been drawn with the flowers and leaves creating a flow for your eye to follow. If you alter the way the flowers face that would be interrupting that flow.

In the Stroke category you do not have to have a center of interest. If you select not do a center of interest would it be right for you to select a background with a lighter center and darker edges?
No, as the different values of the background would indicate that you are attempting to have a center of interest since the center is a lighter value. Your eye would go to that area. Without the rest of the design being painted with a center of interest, this would be confusing and lack flow for your eye to follow. It would not be balanced and it would lack harmony as the background would be fighting for attention and leading your eye away from the design.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. What color are cast shadows?
  2. How many value changes should cast shadows show?
  3. What is the rule of Thirds?
  4. How can you make the rule of Thirds work for you?
  5. How do you decide on the light source