The Art of Charles Sovek


Paint Like a Master Impressionist: The Art of Edward Potthast
The Artist's Magazine - December, 1988

Enlargement of Illustration

Step 1: A Simple Scheme - By covering the canvas with a thin wash of warm color, Potthast was able not only to subdue the stark white of the canvas, but also set up a warm-toned base on which to paint his basically cool color schemes. He avoided a detailed drawing in order to move figures or change proportions without fussy reworking He also kept it simple because he drew as he painted, and any linear hindrances would only hamper his spontaneous technique.   Step 2: A Tonal Guide - Still working with thin paint, Potthast would have indicated the key elements of his tonal plan. Although these first two stages will be covered with opaque paint they're an important guide for the placement of forms and overall patterning of the composition. Notice how the spotting of darks and deepening of the sky and water values give a preview to the painting's final tonal organization.
Author's sketches - "A Holiday"
Step 3: Thick, Simple Strokes - This is a critical stage for any painting, and Potthast handled it beautifully executing the poster like patterns with deceptive simplicity Rather than building colors from thin to thick, he developed this stage with thick, opaque paint. There are only 14 pieces of color on my canvas, yet from a distance, the whole composition begins to unfold.   Step 4: Refine and Highlight - In this stage, forms are refined. Notice how warmer yellow blues are introduced near the horizon to imply distance, and dark accents are added beneath waves and in the small background figures. Potthast saved his lightest lights for the white bathing dresses, which look even crisper beside the rich accents of hair, bathing trunks and background figures. The jewel-like touches of hair ribbons complete the colorful orchestration of patterns and shapes.