Thursday, October 20

Learning to Paint Loosely, Freely, and Boldly

One of My Loose Acrylics
Copyright 2010
It’s ironic to me, but true, that painting loosely or learning to paint loosely is actually more difficult than painting tightly. That is, painting freely is harder to do than painting with controlled, precise, brushstrokes that go exactly where you paint them to go.

At least that’s my opinion. It’s ironic because to the average person, painting loosely looks much easier to do than painting a controlled, representational, or highly realistic painting. In whatever medium, but especially watercolor, I think, a loosely painted painting looks as if “anyone could do that.”

Oh, just pick up a brush and dab or splash on some paint. And Viola, you have a beautiful, impressionistic painting, right? Wait, not so fast, and I mean that in more ways than one. Yes, painting openly, freely, and loosely can be relatively fast to render. But not always. Like many things in life, it just looks easy.

As with many things, you must first: know what you know, know what you don’t know, and then the most difficult of all—figuring out the things you don’t know you don’t know. You may have to think about that for a minute or two.

In loose, impressionistic painting that means taking all your knowledge as a painter, and then un-learning some techniques to allow yourself to paint freely (or more freely). If you think learning to paint is difficult, just wait until you have to un-learn how to paint.

That’s easier said than done. Letting go never is. But, if you’re inclined to paint loosely, boldly, and freely, then you must learn how to let go or un-learn some of your style and techniques.

The life of a painter can be frustrating.

(Cautionary note to readers:  this does not mean throwing out the basics, such as composition, value, lighting, distance, or perspective; it does mean throwing out some of your  ingrained habits.)

 But, as always, Happy Painting!

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