Painting A Vignette

A vignette, a picture that doesn’t have a definite border, incorporates the beauty of the paper. The image should be off center and the vignette should read left to right, up and down, and connect on three sides. The corners are negative spaces that become a part of the design. To begin a vignette like the one pictured above, I soak a sheet of Strathmore Aquarius II paper. Then I start the painting process with a juicy, blob of color. This blob is an irregular shape to begin with; it’s a continual mass that expands and stretches. I tell my students, “You have to allow it to happen.”

Next, I go in with a square of compressed charcoal, Char-Kole (manufactured by Alphacolor). Char-Kole is soft, like pastel. If I dip it in water, it melts on the paper—adding a hint of something dark, something textural and linear. The charcoal dissipates; the paint already on the surface eats it up. It’s an exciting effect and exciting to work with.

Ernie Baber was raised in an encouraging environment in Denver, Colorado, that stressed an appreciation of the arts. After serving in the military, he moved to New York to study at the Art Students League with painter David Leffel. He then lived and studied in Europe for several years, taking advantage of the world’s finest museums firsthand. Eventually, he moved to Calcutta, India, where he studied Indian classical music and art. Baber currently lives and paints in Carmel, California. He has work in collections throughout the United States, as well as in Japan, Saudi Arabia and Europe. He’s represented by the Jones and Terwilliger Gallery in Carmel.

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