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About The Artist

ABOUT ME

Thirty years ago, we settled down to raise our children in West Islip. It's a shore community on Long Island, New York. I created a plastic molding business, the same year that Dustin Hoffman was told in The Graduate. "plastics". The business was successful and today is primarily a medical products manufacturer. It is now run by one of my three sons.

When the kids left the nest, I found myself with the time to pursue a lifelong interest, drawing and painting. My teachers include: Brian Atyeo, Frank Webb, Stephan Quiller and Skip Lawrence All of these giants were prize winners of the American Watercolor Society, (thatís about as big as it gets). Currently my mentor is Sygmond Jankowsky. I am a member of several local art associations, enter shows, have won ribbons and awards, and teach watercolor painting. Itís my goal to create thoughtful and beautiful art. Itís also important to teach, and help other artists along the road

ABOUT MY SUBJECTS

I create fairly realistic paintings often with, watercolor, but more recently, oils and acrylics. I live in wonderful place for an artist to work. I find beauty in our parkways with their stone bridges. Our waterfronts and marinas make excellent subjects. We have wonderful parks, from the wild of Connetquot State, thru the polished beauty if the Arboretum. and so many golf courses. There are spectacular shores, like Jones Beach and Fire Island with their lighthouses bridges, ferries, dunes, seashells crashing waves and topless beaches. We have every kind of architecture surrounded by extraordinary lakes. Our downtowns are picturesque, with flower baskets hanging from the lampposts.

I also travel a lot and spend a good amount of vacation time painting. That's why there are many other subjects mixed into those of Long Island


What I am trying to achieve and how I try to do it.

My primary goal is to make beautiful pictures, which will remain alive and stimulating for as long as you own them. In the beginning, it was a struggle to figure out what to paint. I knew what I liked, but had no idea why. Successfully transcribing what I saw was the central issue.


Now, very many years later, those things are a snap. The struggle now, involves concepts like creating a painting which is beautiful, interesting, and a good description of a person or place, yet to give you a painting which changes day to day according to what you bring to it. Let me give a few examples of how this can be done.


This is a watercolor sketch: Look carefully to see if you notice something going on.

 

The top of the roof is not separated from the sky. You probably saw a line across the rooftop, and may still see one. I assure you, that the the sky and roof areas were left untouched. You, the viewer, was forced to draw that line. We painted the picture together. There is a name for what happened to you. You saw an "implied line". I refer to this phenomenon as lost edges. They occur in real life almost constantly, and are visual elements that add interest to the act of seeing.


There are more subtle ways to draw you into the painting process . Smithtown Trees In this next painting, can you spot how I am messing with your mind? The bottom of the picture has a "foreground shadow", and you are standing in it. See how you know from the shadow that there is a tree to your right?   Well I sure didn't put it there; you did !


With the shadow present and the tree missing, the viewer is left with a puzzle. "What does the tree look look like"? This question is asked and answered unconsciously. Look how powerfully the viewer becomes involved in the making and remaking of the art simply because I left the tree out. Because she has less information then she needs, she is forced into participating in the creation of this painting. Every time she looks at it, she will feel the presence of the tree the way she wants to at that moment.


Another current issue is to be honest. To never paint the way family, friends and especially peers, think it should be done. To have it be "my" work without thinking of what will sell, or what sort of stuff the museums and galleries are showing. In other words, to be sincere.


Along the way many new ideas invaded my work. Space, for instance. A house is a positive shape. The sky and the lawn surrounding it are negative shapes. Negative space is every bit as important as positive, but more difficult to handle. It is far more difficult for me to make you feel the air between someone's hands just before she claps, then to make you feel the hands. The impending clap will be louder if you sense the weight of the air, which is about to be imploded.


General Approach

I follow a very old school of thought called the "PRE-RAPHAELITES" They required that the artist paint morally uplifting subjects, using transparent paints on a white surface. They used harmonious relationships of shape, color, value and texture. My other school of thought is very modern. The artist must set up sat up a dialogue with the viewer, and that dialogue has to involve the viewer on his terms, and that dialog has to remain alive and maturing after the work is bought.


The Principal of Dominance

People seem to be most comfortable in situations of clear dominance We like to know what the thing is about, and who is in charge. . We find the story of the Papa Bear, the Mamma Bear, and little baby bears so soothing that we teach our children the concept, often before they can even walk. My goal at every stage of the process is to to set up a dominant and a subordinate theme which work well together. This makes viewers comfortable in the presence of the painting.


When I find a subject to paint, I begin by making a series of black and white sketches with pencil. At this point I am only concerned with attractive shapes and their relationships to one another. A dominant shape theme might be rectangular with subordinate "S" shapes, or Branching "tree" shapes against rounded "bush" shapes. The possibilities are infinite. I will modify the form of anything like trees and mountains for the sake of the composition.


Once the shapes relate well, then I shade them in and study the relative lightness and darkness, the "VALUE" of the composition. The values will be adjusted to also have dominant and subordinate ranges. The shading of adjacent areas is critical. In one case to make these areas distinct from each other. In the other case, to create lost edges.

The focal point of the painting will be the biggest jump in value between shapes, and I will use value jumps to control the viewers attention and path of vision.

 

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At this point the sketch is called a value drawing. It is my experience that if I get the value drawing right, the painting will come out right.


Everything up to this point is black and white, (and gray). Back in the studio, there is no color reference. This frees me to use hues that establish the mood of the work instead of what was actually in front of me. It's my belief that color is the key to expressing emotion. I try to use it like a chef uses spices, (more on this further on).


The next phase involves re-sketching small versions of the final drawing several times onto watercolor paper. I try different color schemes on these "thumbnail" sketches until I am satisfied. Here too, there will be a dominant and a subordinate family of colors. I generally use use color schemes which are harmonious, reserving any dissonant notes for accents only where necessary. In this stage I also concern myself with using color to create depth in the painting. Blues, purples and grays recede into the distance, while reds, yellows and oranges come forward. Even in terms of depth there is a need for the Three Bears. There should be a dominant depth, lets say the foreground, a subdominant depth, maybe the middle ground, and several subordinate depth in the near and far background.


The final concern is texture. By texture I mean the visual "roughness" of the picture elements such as how much roughness I will show in a stone wall, or smoothness on a porcelain surface. Texture too, will be dominant and subordinate.


When the painting plan is complete there remains only one more decision; size. Once that's settled, (which will often be dictated by the size frame that I have on hand), I am ready to transfer the sketch to the final painting surface. If I have done the groundwork well, the painting will always come out well.


The actual painting process is a thing of joy. I love the way paint runs off a brush, how colors mingle, the smell of my materials. While painting I am in a Zen like zone, where neither time nor problems exist.


My paintings seem more realistic than they really are. They are made to convey a feeling of a place, rather than a map of a place. I hope you enjoy them.


 Color - My great love and passion

A famous artist once told me that if the values are right, it does not matter what colors you use. I almost agree. An inexperienced audience will love a painting with the colors "pushed" just a little. A more experienced viewer will be very comfortable with a completely distorted color scheme. I want my work to have a realism to it, but will push the colors quite far if the mood of the work requires it.


For example; My use of blue.

I really love blue. Here's why

On a sunny day, there are two light sources, the sun, and the sky. They are almost equally strong. The sun is a concentrated light source. The sky is weaker but much bigger. The sunlight is white, and the skylight is blue. It should be obvious that shadows are illuminated only by skylight, (and a little reflected light). Since the skylight is blue, the less cloudy the day, the bluer the shadows. Most people never notice this, but on an some level they they sense the presence of blue in the shadows and their mood reflects it. People love the sunniest day with the bluest of shadows.

 

Why Not

This is a sketch of a real ski trail called "Why Not", at Steamboat Springs, Co.

I used pthalo blue, straight out of the tube, for the shadows.

Interesting that people feel "blue" on a cloudy day.

I push my shadows very far to the blue if the goal is to create a happy mood. For a somber painting the shadows will be more to the gray. There is never no blue in the shadows. No point in depressing my audience.


Mood

If there are faces in the painting, the faces will tell you how to feel, otherwise we have to establish the mood with color and value. Lightheartedness will be established with light values dominating, with blue shadows and with bright colors. Excitement results from a wide range of values and from strong diagonal elements in the composition. Interest can be developed interweaving erotic symbols. Of course the image can be critical.

I once painted a picture of a boy crying and holding a dead dog. No amount of color could make that a happy picture.

There are hundreds of known ways to effect the mood of a painting. These are just a few.


There is a lot more. Check back, as I plan to add to this as time and inclination allow.


 

My Personal Accomplishments

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Original Fine Art Paintings by Larry Weiss

 
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Updated 2/10/2008

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He paints the astonishingly complicated loneliness of the limbo hours in a coffee shop, like a glass-hulled boat trapped in the black ice of the city, lit by a slice of yellow light like stale lemon pie, and full of the sadness of a gray fedora, a red dress and a clean coffee urn. (Newsweek on Edward Hopper)

Original Fine Art & Web Design by Larry Weiss