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No. No. No. No. No. No. Hello, I'm Nancy Kaminsky. Today we're going to paint San Juan Mountains in Colorado. I don't know if you've ever been to Colorado. I have. It's a beautiful state, and I hope in this painting to capture all the beauty of that beautiful countryside.
Let's get started, because we have a lot to do, and I want to make a couple of points about snow on the mountains. OK? Now the first thing we do is just thing the canvas. Like this, by the time we're through with this series, you will have seen many, many canvas sustained, and exactly this way, as a matter of fact, all of them. And it must be done. And I keep saying the same thing over and over again. But as I said, concerning your children, you will have to say the same thing over and over again 20 times a day for 20 years. There we are. Let's wipe it off. Repetition is the way you learn. So don't be afraid to do it over and over again. Now we'll put in the drawing and the grids.
Divide it in quarters first, because I think that way you keep out of trouble, like that. You're little lines like this, and draw them in. Oops, that's a little bit messy there. I can tell, of course, immediately, if you've got them in the wrong place. Let's get this one a little better. It's a little messy there. Right. Now then, again, I'm going to say, as in landscapes or seascapes or whatever, you find the horizon first. In this case, the horizon is quite low, and the sky and mountains are very dominant.
So we're going to put in the horizon line immediately. It's very important to do that first, so you know how to build the rest of your painting, like this. Fine. Now we have mountains, and we have green rolling hills. Next, let's put in our green rolling hills. Not too high now, because we have mountains, and we don't want to obscure the sky. Watch the points now. Let's not have, they're actually green rolling hills, and not pointed dough hills, like this. I have one that's a little lower, one a little higher, and so on. Very them, that's it. Now, leave them for the moment. Let's go to the mountains, while let's have the point over here, right over the other one, like that, and then have them a little smaller down here.
Let's change this a wee bit, because I had two. I don't want them going this way, you know. Again, we have a very simple drawing. Thank goodness. Because if you don't spend hours on the drawing fusing with it, then you can enjoy your painting. Now, there again, I don't want the straight line at the horizon. Let's vary this a little, so the hills look like they're going back and back and back, and we do that by the simple expedient of getting rid of the straight line this way, like this, the feeling that's going all the way back there in the canyon, which they have. It's beautiful, like this. Lots of wild rabbits and tumbleweed, and all of that. Now, we have trees and shrubs, and what have you?
I do not want to draw the foliage on the trees, because we'll only have to paint them out. However, if you want to, you can paint them in, and then get rid of them. That's the best way to do it anyway. We'll do that anyway, because I think that's best for you. Now, the trees are quite tall on the right-hand side, because they're quite close to us. And another reason I want to do this, because I want to show you the structure of the tree. I don't think I've done that enough, and I want to show you that a tree is rather like this, and the branches evolve one from the other like that. You have main trunks, or a main trunk like that, and then they go out that way. Trees are very beautiful, and really quite simple. We complicate everything, and we don't have to. We have two small trees right here, like this. Of course, these are not the same kind of trees
that you have in the eastern part of the United States. We have very large trunks, and the tops are quite large. These are a little different in the west. All right, leave this for the moment. I just left the branches no foliage for now. A tree is over here quite small, because I'm much further away. We're creating a marvellous feeling of distance in this painting, which we may not do with some of the others, and it's a perspective in color, which is very important. There are the warm tones going all the way into the cool tones, which creates a marvellous feeling of perspective in color. We do have perspective in color as well as in line, more so in painting than with lines in drawing. There we are. These are very small, these trees here, like this. We'll leave those for the moment. Don't fuss with them. We also have, in front of the canvas, which is a marvellous gimmick, which again creates a feeling of distance. Some shrubs and bushes and weeds and all of that,
and we'll just draw those in very simply that way. There are several of them right here, very small, and very much in the distance. And we'll leave them for just a moment like that. Fine. Well, that's it. That's the drawing. It's very simple, but it's all there. Now, always we decide where is the light coming from. In this case, the light is coming from the right. We take our brush and a little umber with our wash but please do not have it dripping because you will lose your paint you're drawing. This way. Now, we're going to paint out the trees. Don't fret. You can get them back again. Like this. If you lose a little mountaintop, don't worry about it. You know, we always get it back.
Goodness knows. All right, how about your hills? There we are. The hills also. Don't let the tree war. You know that tree's there. Even though you've painted it out, you've done it once and it's in your mind. You will remember it. That's the interesting part of this. Now, I'll put the bushes in like this. It looks pretty nice in sepia. I've done sepia paintings and they're very beautiful. It's a monochromatic painting when you use all tones of the one color. And it's also a very interesting technique. Perhaps one day we will do it. I want to show you that also. I want to bring everything to you so that you really will enjoy all faces of painting. I think that's about it. There we are. That's our drawing for today. Now, always a fun part. We're going to paint. Now, remember we work from the back out. The sky first will start with a light tone along the horizon.
I would like to make another point here. When we paint florals, we start from the dark tone and working to the light. When we paint a sky, we work from the light tone, practically always, at the top either at the horizon or in this case, at the top of the mountains, like this. And go around carefully. But I do don't want you to lose your mountains if you can help and save yourself a little work. When you learn to paint, you'll find that you can, as I say, have moods in painting. This is the interesting thing about painting with a knife that makes such noise. Let's drag it up like this.
This sky, a little movement. I like the idea of the sky not looking static, of having something going on up there. Fine, now. Let's go to the middle tail, like this. Now, when we take the middle tail, we start up in the corner like that and work down towards the mountains this way. But please do not lose your tonal values. That's why we mix them in the first place. You see, we do everything in three values. Light, medium, and dark. Although we've had students that have created raging storms by adding a little too much orange to the sky tone. Remember that in painting, the warm tones will cool or gray the cool tones and the cool tones will cool and gray the warm tones. And that's the way it goes.
In this case, when we mix the sky tone, we usually use orange with our blues and greens to create a cooler effect. Let's put a little dark tone up there, because it's not quite interesting enough. Very lightly, please, hold your knife lightly. Do not load it with paint, because then you cannot control it. Hold it very lightly, flat of a knife, like this. Now, we've got the sky and leave it alone. Let's work in our mountains. There again, we had the three tones. Start with the dark tone on the right. The strokes go towards the left like this first. Then we take the lighter tone, and we work it this way. In the opposite direction to create a feeling of death. The opposite direction to create a feeling of death, like this. And once you learn the pattern in nature of all the objects you paint, it's amazing one, how much easier it is
and two, how terribly effective it is. It's a very exciting thing to watch it grow in just a few strokes into something very, very true to what you're trying to do, just by a few strokes, the right strokes. Get back and look at it now, because then you'll find that you might have been working too hard. We have those green hills there. There. You mustn't play with it. Leave it alone. You'll hear me say that a million times, and I can't stress enough. I think in class, they used to tell me that it was my theme song. As soon as I came, we got leave it alone. I had a coach around the instructor at the YMCA in Rome. We said I sound like a coach at halftime with my students.
I scream at them to leave it alone. There we are. Let's put the green hills in. Leave it. We have to get a marvelous feeling here. These very dark green hills in silhouette. I think that before I do that, we'll put the little green valley. We have a lovely little green fertile valley, right at the foot of these mountains. Let's do that first. I think I like to do that first. It's gorgeous. You can see how lovely that pale green is with that purple. It's a fantastic contrast. But then no one can surpass, or anything, surpassed the beauty of nature and the color of nature. You have marvelous colors like Van Gogh, who dared to paint purple trees.
There we are. Now, let's go back to our dark green hills. There again, the dark side on the right, poor trees have had it by golly. We've lost them all together. Now, these hills have vegetation on them, so let's not make them too smooth. Let's create a feeling of vegetation without, please, adding lots of little things. We'll add a little lighter tone right here like this to create the difference in the hills like that. Color is absolutely fascinating to work with. I've been painting for 30 years, and it's still the most exciting thing every painting I do is the first one. And all of you young people who are thinking about it, don't think about it, do it.
Because when you're ready to especially the women, when you're ready to join a menopause set by a golly, you'll be grateful to your children. I know. There we are. Again, a lighter tone. If you have gone over the area that you have painted out or rather sketched in down here, don't let it worry you. We put in the yellow grass as we go up into the hills and create the space between them so don't fuss. Color-wise, I think this is one of the most beautiful paintings. By the way, I didn't put the snow in, and this painting has snow, so we're going to do that. And I would say that when we paint the snow, please, they're not to look like ice-cream cones. A dark tone of white on the side.
Let's do that across all the mountain ranges like this. Very lightly like this. Like that. Let me take the white tone like this. You see, I've created a feeling of crevices which it has by simply running the knife very lightly over the lumps of paint underneath. Now, when I was learning to paint, I would have painted the snow first and added the mountain color around it. And I would never have gotten this effect. In pulling the white snow over the form of paint or the paint underneath, it has created a feeling of it going into the crevices of the mountain, which it would naturally anyway. Also, it's starting to melt in spots, which it does in the west. Of course, it's switching, and you have another problem. I want to soften this wee bit like that.
That's a marvelous gimmick. And let's pick it up again. Like that. There we are. Now, we've done that. Got a beautiful snowy range of mountains. Don't go back to it because that's one thing that you can ruin. Very easily is a snow. I do think that we should have another one right here and another one in front. Now, let's go to the foreground. The light tone is coming from the left, so we start with the dark tone on the right. There again, our strokes are terribly important. It's across and down like this,
and use the middle tone alternately to make the feeling of some of the grass is catching the light and some in shadow, because it changed itself at spray tall. And I'm going to add a little purple at the bottom on the right side to create a feeling of it being dark and the light coming from the left, like this. I'm going up into the mountains, because I'll take a little bit off there. I don't like the straight line, and you should try to... Let's put that in there like that. Like this. Let's bring this down a little bit like that, so create the feeling of it being an underlating line, and going up into the hills like that.
Now, let's go to our light tone. Leave there for the moment. Let's go to the light tone, like this. Isn't that beautiful? The beautiful, warm yellows get that dark, lovely green. It's a painting. You will always enjoy... It will never get tired of looking at it. It's very restful. And I've traveled quite a bit, but I have yet to see... Some of the countries are as beautiful as the West, but I have yet to see anything as lovely as Colorado. I'll keep this light very light, to create a marvelous feeling of contrast. Now, we're moving right along.
Let's go to the trees now that we've painted out. Don't worry, we'll find them. I'm here. I'm going to change that just a little bit. I would like this little more exciting than it is. There we are. Okay, now put the right tree in the very tall one. With purple, please. No brown trees and no telephone poles. Use a tip of your knife. Don't load it with paint and do this. Please don't fuss. I would suggest that before you do trees or anything like this, practice on paper first with your knife. And get the feel of the strokes. You'll find that it will be a great help. I'm going to leave that for the moment.
We have trees over here. But these are smaller, do you remember? I have a lump of paint there which has caused me a little trouble, but I'll get rid of that. Not very tall, please. Because with the shorter trees, it tells us that there's quite a distance here. Between them. I'm going to make these taller. I think they're going to be the same size. I think they make this a little taller. Get your little shadows in, please, right away, so you don't lose them. Fine. Now we'll put our foliage in. We strip of the leaves across the trees, across the trees, like this.
And not up and down. There we are. Just pat them on. It's also a fantastic stroke. I do not want you sitting there drawing little dotty leaves. There. I did get that a bit high, but that's okay. I think about painting is ever changing. And please, I think it's a wonderful idea if you would simply take your purple and goes to here like this. After you get your foliage in, paint a few strokes like that. For more branches, that makes it look much more natural.
I'm going to paint on the left. I'm using medium tone because of the dark hills. Ordinarily I would use dark tone. So let's add a little extra yellow on here for emphasis and for light. To create a marvelous feeling of light, I'm going to add a little extra zinc yellow on that. I purposely kept the colors down for you to 10. It's less expensive. And you learn color that way by doing your own. I can remember going to the art store and he would talk me into about 20 colors. And I can help not know what to do with them. Now we've got the trees.
We have our little shrubs down here. They're very dark across the front like this. We have a little light green tone on the left. We can add a little purple on the bottom like this. And we have a bit, we have some tumbleweed in the center like this. They dry in the fall. They dry out and then they move and they go across the whole countryside. The whole prairie is fantastic. They get huge. And they're very soft. They're all dried branches. It's a very interesting thing to watch them blowing. They have lots of wild rabbits in this country.
You didn't know you were getting a travel film, did you? I think we have, I think one more. A little tiny one so it looks very, very far away. Now forget your shadows like that. I'm not going to do what I tell you not to do. Play with it. I'm going to stop right now. There we are. Well, that's it for today. Now we must sign it. Always sign your paintings. I can't tell you enough. And this time we use the brush to sign. Goodbye for now.
Bye. Bye. This program was made possible by a grant from Commercial Union Assurance Companies. Thank you.
Thank you.
Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky
Episode Number
San Juan Mountains
Producing Organization
Connecticut Public Television
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
Nancy Kominsky teaches viewers how to paint the San Juan Mountains.
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Fine Arts
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Moving Image
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Host: Kominsky, Nancy
Producing Organization: Connecticut Public Television
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Library of Congress
Identifier: cpb-aacip-d3ec6bec7d2 (Filename)
Format: 2 inch videotape
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Chicago: “Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 124; San Juan Mountains,” 1976, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 124; San Juan Mountains.” 1976. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 124; San Juan Mountains. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from