Work and Awards
 
Recognition
Magnolia Blooms
:
Won the 2000 Ohio Watercolor Society Award of Excellence .
Japanese Garden III
:
Was accepted by Pat SanSoucie in the OWS 1st National Show at the Canton Museum of the Art in Canton, Ohio Spring 2001.
Show at PA
:
One person show in Sharon, PA., which included a two day workshop.
Award of Excellence
:
OWS 2001 Annual Exhibition, juror Peggy Brown
Published Article
:
"The Artist Magazine", F & W publications, featured Fran's work and a five page article in their Dec. 2001 magazine along with two paintings that were accepted in the magazine's 2001 art competition. The same publisher also selected sections of the article for their new premier October 2003 magazine "Painting 1-2-3", pages 4-5.
Hardcover Publications
:
F&W Publications found through the North Light Book Club:
"The Nose Knows" included in "Splash 8"; "Reflections" included in "Splash 9".
 

 

The article issued in "The Artist Magazine" Dec. 2001

 

 

Picture Perfect

Photo References can be just the painting tool to give your work the versatility you need. It's all in how you use them.

By Fran Mangino

Finding time to paint is a challenge. Even the time I do spend painting is rarely long enough, so after 10 years of juggling my art, my art business and my family life I decided there's no shame in taking shortcuts. As a result, photographs have become one of my most valuable painting tools. Although I love painting outdoors, the camera allows me to capture those wonderful scenes that I don't have time to linger over or that move too quickly for me to sketch.

In effect, my camera has become my sketchbook. It's a means of expanding and improving my everyday vision and giving me reference material for future paintings. But there's a lot to learn about taking the photos that make good paintings, and even the best photos won't guarantee good painting results. So here's my method of using photo references for my watercolors, and maybe it can help you make the . time you need to be the artist you've always wanted to be.

Getting the Goods

I have an easy-to-use 35rnm single-lens reflex camera that offers both automatic and manual features, and it's all I need to capture the action. But each time I look through the camera's view finder, I think about the composition of a potential painting by searching for the area that has the most contrast of lights and darks. Then I move round to ensure that the focal point is in a dynamic spot and that there's a path for the eye to follow through the entire image. Also, taking pictures at several different angles and depths of field greatly increases my chances for success. Sometimes only one print out of a roll will convey the excitement I feel toward the subject, but I'd rather have one good shot out of 36 bad photos than one good painting out of 15 or so bad ones.


When I get my film developed, I have 5x7 prints made. This size helps me see the print clearly, and I use tiny matts from the photo package to frame each print to determine whether it can be worked into a painting. This is the time to choose the shapes that should be kept or eliminated. If you keep in mind that whites come forward and darks recede, you'll be better able to re determine the focal point if necessary. To me, it's important to pull the viewers in and hold their attention as long as possible. Having a high contrast of light and dark areas helps to put that kind of punch into a painting.


Seeing a Painting

Next I pull out my old Autograph AG 100 opaque projector; tape a 22x30-inch white paper to the wall and project the image directly onto the paper: From this I determine what image site would bring the most impact to my painting, and whether the format will be vertical or horizontal. Making the image larger or smaller at this stage is just a matter of pulling the projector back or pushing it forward, respectively. The more the size is increased, however; the blurrier the lines become, and because the images are diffused you may have a hard time getting accurate lines if you
go too big.
Here I have two options: I can simply draw the image freehand onto a piece of watercolor paper; or I can trace the projected image onto the paper on the wall. If you choose the latter; there are a few important things to remember. First, the projector should be level and perpendicular to the wall. If the photo is larger than the glass on the projectO1; be sure to move the projector as you move the print in order to keep the traced image whole, and each time the projector is moved its distance to the wall must be rechecked. I recommend using a piece of transparent tracing paper and just a No.2 pencil for the tracing option.

Fixing the Holes

Cameras will flatten out perspective, causing the vertical lines in a picture to curve in or out, called "curvature of field." If you like playing with these distortions then the projector will enhance them for you, but if your goal is realism they can be a hindrance. When photographing people, try to direct the camera straight on, for an odd angle causes distortion of the figure. Sometimes the photos are such that the faces are blurred and unrecognizable, as in the photographs I used for Midlife Syncopation (below). In this case I had to search my other reference shots for images I could use to complete the drawing. Using multiple sources like this prevents you from wasting precious drawing time.


When tracing, once I get the right composition I redraw every line and frequently use a T square and ruler to check perspective. I never use this contour drawing as my final drawing, but only to determine the size and placement of the shapes. If I get the sense that something is wrong, I immediately start checking the drawing because the solution is usually found there and any corrections can still be made easily.


As the last stage before I begin painting, I tape the tracing paper over my Arches 140-lb cold-pressed paper with transfer carbon paper sandwiched in between. Using a fine ballpoint pen, I lightly trace over my drawing, being careful not to press so hard as to make deep grooves in the watercolor paper. I recheck all my lines for accuracy, comparing them to the original drawing, and use a soft white eraser to lighten up any dark lines and make necessary corrections. By this time I've mentally planned out everything, including the colors, where to start, and what painting techniques I'll incorporate. Now I'm ready to simply enjoy the act of transparent watercolor painting.

Feeling the Joy

I start the painting process by masking any elements that need to be protected, and usually around the edges of the figures. To choose my background colors I pull out a test sheet of groups of three colors that shows the interaction of the pigments in each group. I also have a test strip of all my colors, which makes my choice much easier. Instead of mixing large puddles of paint on my palette, I mix three separate background colors to a fluid consistency, each in a small plastic container with a lid. I give each color its own brush to keep the color pure, and my brush sizes depend on the size of the painting.

I like to spray water lightly on the background to create both wet and dry areas, and while keeping each brush filled with paint I allow the colors to overlap and mix on the paper. Where there's water, the paint will be softer and more varied in the background. I'll let the area dry completely before removing the masking and redrawing any lines if necessary. When I move on to painting figures I incorporate the background colors so the shapes won't look like cutouts.

Clean water is a must for keeping colors transparent, and I generally let layers of color dry thoroughly before adding new color. If I need to return to the background, I'll add. water by stroking once on the dried paper with a soft brush over the entire shape, and before this is absorbed I'll add paint with one stroke, trying not to disturb the undercoat. When I try to skip the stroke of water and paint directly over a dry area of paint, the results look dead compared to the vibrancy of other areas. Standing back from the picture, viewing it in the mirror, turning the paper upside down, and having friends view it helps me catch the areas that need work.

I love watercolors, but it's the great colors and subjects of life that really excite me, motivating me to paint. So I don't like to waste too much of my precious time, and I've found that photographs are immensely helpful in this effort. I always keep in mind that the camera and the projector art; tools to help me get to the painting process, where I can breathe life into an image On paper and share my excitement with the world.

 

Column : Intro to Making Art, Magazine : "Painting 1>2>3" , Premier Issue Oct. 2003

 

 

Turn a Favorite Photograph Into A Painting

When you trace a photo you don't have to know how to draw to create a piece of art you'll cherish!

By Ann Abbot

IF YOU'RE LIKE A LOT OF PAINTERS, you probably have oodles of photos-tucked in desk drawers or stuck to your refrigerator-that you're positive would make wonderful paintings. But how do you go about turning a favorite photo into a work of art? Freehand drawing can be intimidating, and getting your drawing just right can be time-consuming. If you have basic painting skills, you can create your own image by tracing or transferring an image from a photo.

A number of fine artists working at all different levels compose their paintings using photos. "Photographs have become one of my most valuable painting tools," says watercolorist and instructor Fran Mangino. "Although 1 love painting outdoors, the camera allows me to capture those wonderful scenes that 1 don't have time to linger over or that move too quickly for me to sketch. In effect, my camera has become my sketchbook."

Step I: Taking and Selecting Good Photos

"There's a lot to learn about taking the photos that make good paintings, and even the best photos won't guarantee good painting results," says Mangino. She uses an easy-to use 35mm single-lens reflex camera that offers both automatic and manual features loaded with 35mm print film. "It's all 1 need to capture the action," she says. Here are some of Mangino's tips for composing through a camera:

  • Think about composition. "Each time 1 look through the camera's viewfinder," says Mangino, "I think about the composition of a potential painting by searching for the area that has the most contrast of lights and darks. Then 1 move around to ensure that the focal point, the center of interest, is in a dynamic spot and that there's a path for the eye to follow through the entire image."
  • Take shots from different points of view. '1 take pictures at several different angles and depths of field this greatly increases my chances for success," Mangino says. "Sometimes only one print out of a roll will convey the excitement 1 feel toward the subject!"
  • Get larger prints made. "When 1 get my film developed, 1 have 5 x 7-inch prints made," Mangino says. "This size helps me see the print clearly."
  • Edit the photo. "You don't have to paint everything exactly as it appears in your photo," advises Mangino. "Once I've selected a print that 1 think will work for a painting, 1 edit the photo, choosing the shapes in the photo that should be kept or eliminated. If you keep in mind that whites come forward and darks recede, you'll be better able to change colors or values if necessary to make the focal point stand out. To me, it's important to pull the viewers in and hold their attention as long as possible. Having a high contrast of light and dark areas helps to put that kind of punch into a painting.

"Some artists take slides instead of print photos-and some do both. If you want to project an image for tracing, you can use either an opaque projector to project a print or a slide projector to project a slide. "


Step 2: Tracing the Photo

Once you have a photo or slide you like, your next step is to trace or transfer the image onto your paper or canvas. There are several different ways to do this, besides freehand drawing. Some artists use a grid to enlarge and transfer an image from a drawing to paper or canvas. Others project the image onto either tracing paper or directly onto watercolor paper or canvas, each of which is taped or hung on a wall. (Note: When you're tracing, says Mangino, make sure the projector is level and perpendicular to the wall.) Once you've projected the image, you can decide on the size of the image and the format (horizontal or vertical). "Making the image larger or smaller at this stage is just a matter of pulling the projector back or pushing it forward, respectively," says Mangino. "The more the size is increased, however, the blurrier the lines become, and because the images are diffused, you may have a hard time getting accurate lines if you go too big."

Step 3: Transferring the Image to Paper or Canvas

Mangino describes transferring the traced image onto her paper: "As the last stage before I begin painting, I tape the tracing paper over my Arches 140-lb. cold-pressed paper with transfer carbon paper sandwiched in between. Using a fine ballpoint pen, I lightly trace over my drawing, being careful not to press so hard as to make deep grooves in the watercolor paper. I re-check all my lines for accuracy, comparing them to the original drawing. Next, I use a soft white eraser to lighten up any dark carbon lines and make necessary corrections. By this time I've mentally planned out everything, including the colors. I know where to start and what painting techniques I'll incorporate. Now I'm ready to paint."

 

 

 

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