Americans, have yourselves a Happy 4th!
During our June YouTube Sunday Live Chat, the question of overthinking while we are painting came up, leading to my talking about some exercises I've done with my gesture drawing students. As a follow up to that, one of our members asked if there were books on oil painting with those kinds of exercises. At the time, I couldn't think of
any. I still can't.
FROM EXCITEMENT TO FRUSTRATION
Too many emerging painters, regardless of their preferred medium, dive right into a painting far too soon. Consequently, they often end up working out too many "how to" problems during the painting
rather than using their energy watching the painting unfold and responding to that.
Areas get taken out and put back in, colors get revised again and again, the paint starts getting dull or building up--the excitement about painting turns into frustration
until the artist becomes "sick of it" (words from a question during the June Chat).
TAKE A CLUE FROM MUSICIANS
Any accomplished musician spends hours of practice time honing their skills and refining their ideas prior to giving a concert. Painters, though, want to cut to the chase
and get right to the painting. Another thing musicians do prior to a performance is find ways to warm up, to get focused and into the flow of what is about to happen. Too often, painters dive right in and wonder when the flow will come.
Cartoon from depositphotos.com
If any of what I have just described is familiar to you, it's easy enough to regroup and make your painting life one of joy and anticipation, rather than one of dread or spinning tires.
Here are a couple of ideas:
• Find a routine that works for you for warming up, such as
○ Spending several minutes doing gesture studies of your subject like I show you in show you in Quick Tip 131 or
○ Warming up with a few watercolor or gouaches quick studies in your sketchbook
○ Mixing a value/color line for your palette
○ Or something physical such as I show you in Quick Tip 100 (try to ignore in this Quick Tip the wind and fireworks)
• Get to know your subject prior to beginning the painting
○ Through gesture drawing
○ With color studies in your sketchbook
○ With value studies
• Plan a composition off canvas (in your sketchbook or on scrap paper or canvas) ○ Consider the direction of the light source and what kind it is
○ Consider the visual path
LEARN YOUR SKILLS OFF CANVAS
You wouldn't want a surgeon taking out your appendix if they had never used a scapple, and I doubt you'd enjoy a concert by musicians who were learning their instruments while you are listening. Yes, we artists do
continue to learn while we work, but practicing our skills prior to making works to
be shared will go a long way towards giving the painting a chance to take a life of its own. More important, though, is that you will continue to remain exhilarated during the evolving of the painting if you know what you are doing.
I can't stress this one enough--even the most accomplished painter will reach a point of no longer being able to see the painting if they stay in front of it too long. Be willing to take a walk or engage yourself in
something else periodically while working on a painting. You'll come back to it with a fresh eye and will be much more able to see what's really happening in it.
Enjoy a weekend finding new life in your painting process!
During my Language of Painting series, I explained the role of our visual elements. If you'd like to review those roles to better understand the behavior of elements, here are the links to each of those
discussions: Color --Value -- Shape -- Texture -- Size -- Line and Direction
You can access the archive of all my newsletters (as well as the Quick Tips and other stuff) at any time by going HERE.