Thursday, April 29, 2010

Current Challenges

Well, its spring and it seems along with the new growth outside, I always begin to strive for new growth in myself. I jotted down some painting goals and challenges the other night and as I looked them over I realized they were the same as they've been for the past few years. I guess thats a good thing. Hopefully I'm making progress toward all of them. They always encompass the essential foundations of painting.

The first one is to improve in my drawing. By this I mean getting things proportionally correct and in relation to each other on the plane. Close on the heals of this is composition or design. I really like strong compositions with an interesting dark and light pattern. Strong values, being limited to about 3 main ones. Then, I want to use color more purposefully. Color conveys such emotion and mood and I want to plan that a bit more. And last but not least is the handling of the paint and brushwork.

The only way I know how to improve my drawing is to do more of it, of course. So, I'm going to try to use my evenings to spend some time drawing anything around the house. Not in detail, but in sketching the essentials. Getting them where they go. Showing perspective.

So, along with the drawing, is the composition. Actually this comes first in my opinion. To stop and visualize the whole composition before ever making a mark. Look at the subject, then look away and "see" what I remember of it. This kind of clues me in to what was essential. Then to look at it again and visually eliminate the non-essentials and firmly fix that in my mind. Do some thumbnails if necessary to rearrange parts of the whole.

Once having done this my current method is to determine the overall color scheme and then to loosely draw the composition on my panel with paint. Then I have been doing an overall wash of thin paint, blocking in the darks and lights in a general way. If there are important details to establish sometimes I will block in kind of dark and wipe out the lights with a rag because I still have much better control over my finger in a rag than I do over a brush. By important details I mean things that usually pertain to animals or people. They're the hardest to get right and keep fresh. So this really helps me. At this point I have it firmly established in my mind and if I need to leave it until the next day I can do so.

After this stage, I've been going in and establishing the main subject with thicker paint. I like thick, juicy paint, especially when there's some thin washes showing through here and there, like in the shadows. I'm still working on this. Sometimes I get the look established and I don't want to disturb it. Sometimes I do too much. One has to be judicious at this point. I find that after the block in, getting back about 15 feet and appraising the painting really helps to keep from overdoing it. Patience and discipline!

I'm still experimenting with different colors on my palette. Trying to find the combinations I want for certain subjects. And, as I discovered today, the right brush makes a huge difference! You'd think I knew that by now. I looked at all my flats in their jar and realized they all look like filberts, so I pulled out a new flat and voila! nice crisp edges! Sometimes its hard to be me . . .

So, those are my painting challenges. Hopefully, I'll make progress in them. It will be a learning curve again when I start going outside to paint. Its so much harder to keep all these things in mind when surrounded by so much and all that shifting light. But that will be another post!

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