While I was in Seattle last month I attended a wonderful seminar at Gage Academy with visiting instructor Peter Van Dyck. Links to see some of his work are here and here. He emphasized basic concepts rather than any particular technique, so I can apply what we learned not only to still life, but also to landscape, interiors, and figures. He also showed us some neat, simple tools to make for ourselves to help with drawing and composition.
Here is one of his demo pieces. He is interested in the flow of energy across the picture plane, and in using values to both connect and differentiate big areas of the painting. His approach to drawing is to work toward accuracy gradually, both by trusting one's eye, and by also using tools to measure the angles, connections, and masses as they really occur in the composition.
His tools are simple and easy to use. Here's how he measures the comparative size of different elements: he doesn't hold up his thumb or a pencil, he holds up a measuring tape! He uses a viewfinder to double check all the angles, and also a simple device like calipers, made of two long pieces of wood he holds up to his eye. When I got home my buddy Paul made me a set.
Next post I will show some of my work from the class, but for now my PC is down and I am using Paul's. Also, we are heading out to Denali next week where I will paint some Big plein aire. I hope to have something worth posting in a few weeks.