Tuesday, May 27

It's Simple, Simply Simplify Your Paintings

Stucco Lighthouse
Acrylic on board
18 x 24 in/45.7 x 61 cm
Copyright 2014

Yes, the title of today's post is simply silly.

But the message is not silly. It's something I struggle with on every painting I attempt. I used the word attempt rather than complete because every painting I attempt does not always end up exactly as I imagined it would.

As a painter who likes to paint contemporary impressionism, I try to keep simplicity top of mind as I paint. That is, I try to keep it simple as I plan the composition, select my color palette, sketch out the main elements, and especially when I paint the painting.

Not that painting is ever easy, but it's easier to paint exactly what you see before you rather than to edit out any of it. But therein lies the problem. It takes experience and some courage to leave out not only superfluous details but also some major elements if they aren't adding anything for the viewer or the painting.

In his excellent book on how to master impressionism (of which I was fortunate to be able to purchase a copy), Creating Impressionist Landscapes in Oil, Colley Whisson says, among other really good advice, "don't overdo detail because detail kills imagination."

I try to remember that along with the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle every time I pick up my paintbrush.

Tuesday, May 20

Out of a Painting Slump

From a Distance
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright 2014
Last week I lamented how I had fallen into an unexpected painting slump and didn't know why.

Although still not 100 percent, I seemed to have weathered the painting storm, and I feel pretty sure I'm almost back to my normal equilibrium--that is, I've got my confidence back.

I think I know why. Having or regaining confidence is the key to overcoming a slump (or worse) in your painting life or any other life, actually.

I think the slump came about when my confidence took a dive after my inability to accept my paintings for what they were--my paintings.

After finding paintings, the style of paintings, and the work of painters that I aspire to be able to reproduce, I lost confidence when I was not able to render them at the same level or what I presume to be the same level.

And that's another thing. In addition to confidence, you should love or learn to love your own unique style of painting. Just because I think a painter or several painters are able to paint the perfect picture and achieve nirvana in the way they paint, doesn't mean everyone (or anyone) else feels the same.

I forgot that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is an audience and group of people somewhere in the world who think my paintings are perfect and that I have achieved nirvana, too.

Now that's confidence.

Monday, May 12

In a Painting Slump

River Valley
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright 2014
Oops. After I painted this oil painting two weeks ago, I tripped and fell into a painting slump. I don't know why.

I've been in slumps before, so I know it won't last forever. But when you're in one, it's difficult to see the light at the other end or to know when you'll come out of it.

I didn't know I was in one until I discarded my second painting. When I discard two paintings in a row, I know I'm in a painting slump.

The painting knowledge and experience gained over several years doesn't seem to matter. Even though I can still visualize what I want to paint, I can't connect my mind's eye to my left hand onto the canvas.

I still have enthusiasm so that's good, I think. But I seemed to have regressed overnight or it seems that way.

I switched back to acrylic, thinking that my short stint with oil paint may be the cause. My paintings didn't look like anything I would have painted. I even painted over the second one with gesso and tried again before I gave up and threw it away.

Then I went online and viewed the works of my favorite painters, both living and dead, in hopes that would infuse me with inspiration. I think it helped because I'm ready to start another painting this afternoon.

We'll see how the week goes. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.

Monday, May 5

Time to Get Out Your Oil Paints

Spring Green Road
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright 2014
After a season of painting mostly in acrylic, I decided it was time to get out my oil paints.

I really like painting with acrylics, what with all their versatility. And if you've been following OrbisPlanis for any time, then you know I also try to use acrylic like oil paint. One of my goals is to paint so that a viewer couldn't tell the difference between the two mediums, which is not easy to achieve, but I try.

Sometimes, however, I just want to feel the smooth flow of oil paint on the canvas and enjoy its buttery consistency especially if you use a medium or even linseed oil.

And nothing gives you a more beautiful edge or color mix than oil paint with its ability to be applied just the way you want it. You can make it as smooth as silk or you can paint with brushmarks of color slabs.

I know there's some controversy about using water-mixable oil paint, but I paint with it because it doesn't have an odor (at least not to me), you don't need to use mineral spirits or other petroleum-based thinners, and you can clean your brushes (and hands) with soap and water.

I'm not too particular about brand. Right now I'm using a rather limited palette of both Winsor & Newton Artisan and Martin F. Weber WOil. It's a matter of preference, but I find the WOil more creamy and easier to move around.

Don't worry, I'll paint with acrylic again soon, but for now it's time to get out your oil paints!