Monday, January 27

1000 Painting Decisions

A Mountain Morning
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
7 x 9 in/17.8 x 22.9 cm
Copyright 2013
The headline of today's blog says it all, at least in my case.

I remembered this when I was working on one of my recent paintings. Not that I actually counted, but from the moment I began planning for what I would paint, it was nothing but one decision followed by another and another and another.

I'm hoping you don't think about the decisions as you paint because if you do focus on them rather than the painting itself, well, that's not good.

What motif will I paint? Should I paint en plein air? What surface will I paint on and what size will it be? How should I draw the main elements? Should I try a new medium? Which colors of my palette are best suited to this painting? What brushes should I use? Which brushstrokes? Are the values correct? Should I add something here or make a change there?

What? Which? How? Should? The decision-making even continues right up to the end when you have to decide one of the hardest things--when is the painting finished?

Don't get me wrong. It's nice to be in control of at least one thing in our lives, but it can be overwhelming. I prefer to think of it as problem-solving. Or maybe we should just remember the quote from an unknown art teacher: "A painting is a series of corrected mistakes."

Monday, January 20

Painting on the Good Days

Good Day
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/20.3 x 25.4 cm
Copyright 2014
Some painting days are good days, some painting days are not so good, and some are downright terrible.

On the good painting days, I can't wait to begin. On the days that I think will not be as good or will be downright terrible, I try not to paint at all.

Some painting days start out good and go unfortunately downhill from there--sometimes slowly and sometimes rather quickly. Those days may be worst of all because they start out with such high hopes and good intentions but become complete failures.

The goal is to overcome the not-so-good and the downright-terrible painting days.  How exactly to do that, I don't know as I have not been able to overcome those days very well. If I continue to paint on those days, the painting will almost always be un-salvageable.

Why this is, I don't know.

However, I am of the opinion that painting is surely as much a psychological activity as it is a creative one.   

Monday, January 13

Painting Negatively

Misty Shoreline
Oil on Canvas Panel
9 x 12 in/22.9 x 30.5 cm
Copyright 2014
I'm not talking about painting when you're in a bad mood.

I'm talking about using a painting technique that can help you improve or overcome what  may have become an issue, that is, boredom and dullness in your brushstrokes.

When I say painting negatively, I simply mean that you paint around the focal point or major elements before painting those objects. In other words, rather than painting the object, you paint what's around it first.

For example, rather than painting a tree or trees in a treeline first and then painting the sky around the trees, you do it in reverse order. You paint the sky first, and then go back and paint in the tree(s).

This may take a little getting used to because it's more intuitive to paint an object first and then paint the background. But once you learn to plan ahead, you may find this gives a new look and feel to your paintings.

In today's image, I painted the sky and sea(coast) first. Then I came back and painted the land.

Try it, you may like it. If nothing else, it will make you think more about how you control your brushwork on edges. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, January 5

That's How We Learn

Post Office Street
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/20.3 x  25.4 cm
Copyright 2014
The new year brought a burst of painting energy. This time of year, with fewer hours of available daylight in which to paint and facing almost three months of winter, it was a nice surprise.

I would like to attribute it to wanting to paint with some new oil paints that were received as a gift; however the painting was completed using the paints I already had on hand because I want to use them up before opening new tubes of paint.

Call me process-driven.

I keep up my interest this time of year by viewing some paintings of a few favorite painters, such as the ones listed over there in the right-hand column and on sites, such as FASO's Boldbrush painting contest.

I attempt to take what I see and consider as good painting and incorporate some of those techniques into my work.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

As a painter friend of mine always says, "That's how we learn."

Happy New Year.