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Pryce Studios Newsletter Archive

Pryce Studios Newsletter
March 22, 2011 - No. 2 


This week, I am posting my response to a newsletter question by Canadian artist Robert Genn, about the tendency for many artists to want to deal with one area of a painting at a time and not seeing the "whole" painting.  I would like to give my thoughts to this common ailment and some suggestions on how to overcome the problem.



Today's Topic - "Gestalt"

The word Gestalt has it's origins in the world of psychology and philosophy.  Sometimes  described as "essence or shape of an entity's complete form"

In visual art the word Gestalt can be used to describe the wholeness or unity of a painting. To explain the word Gestalt the Wikipedia encyclopedia uses the phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts."   Colour harmony is one important element in achieving unity in a painting.   Another way to obtain a degree of harmony is to allow the underpainting colour to permeate through and around shapes.   Some early Canadian impressionist plein-air painters used pine panels that were varnished. The golden wood colour of the panels was sometimes left around brushstrokes giving the paintings a wonderful harmony.

There is no single solution to achieve that wholeness in a painting and the use of colour is just one important element.  Each subject and each season has to be dealt with accordingly. 


Spring Creek - By John Stuart Pryce

Above, is an example of a quick plein-air painting of a Summer scene in Gibson's B.C. using a  warm red underpainting that permeates throughout the painting giving a form of harmony.

Looking at the big shapes first and dealing with the smaller detail later helps to overcome the urge to pick away at an area and not to see the whole picture.  To have one colour dominant also helps to achieve unity.

Best Regards,


Pryce Studios 


Quote of the week:

"There is no retirement for an artist; it's a way of living so there's no end to it.

Henry Moore

Quick Links: 

My New Tuscany Workshop!  

Oct 7-14 2011  

· Limited class size · Bonus free copy of my book "Plein Air Odyssey" with
sign up


New Schedule of  Local Classes and Plein Air Workshops this spring!

More info to come

Stay Tuned! 

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