In my quest for constant and never ending improvement I sometimes get too much information in my head. One day, as I put brush to canvas, my head blew up.
It all started when I was unhappy that my painting had gotten too tight (it wasn’t that way in art school and college!). It may be skillful but not very expressive. So I looked to artist’s whose work I admire—old masters as well as currently working artist—to learn new techniques.
I took a workshop, watched some videos, a tutorial, read some books and magazines. After working for years with the colors I used in college I tried a whole new brighter palette and was I having some success. I learned some looser brushwork techniques. I keep going.
One artist uses more colors; one uses a limited palette; one uses 3 colors plus white. One tones their canvas, another does not. Etc.
One day painting, the information was all in conflict in my head. That was the day it all started swirling around and my head blew up. I had to stop, light a candle, meditate, and begin again.
Let’s just try ONE thing and see what happens. Let’s think about just this ONE thing and if it works, fine; if not, fine.
And “Fresh Flowers” came out way better than I expected. Not as loose as I’m working toward, but I pretty much like it. What do you think?
Master Gardener, Patty Thayer, has turned her yard into a garden wonderland, with paths, plants, and colorful flowers at every turn. A large deck plus small spots to sit provide areas to relax and refresh. The garden is embellished by the work of Artist Blacksmith, Doug Thayer (Patty’s husband).
Our plein air painting group was invited to paint in their garden again this year. Deciding what to paint is the most difficult part. The flowers were incredible, blooming everywhere. I chose the steps to the deck where this ceramic blue lantern joined in the color celebration.
The first time I drove past the Fleetwood Diner in a non-descript part of town my head would’ve flown off had it not been attached by my neck. It stands out like a full moon in a clear night sky. Hence the immediate U-turn.
It’s everything you’d want in a diner including great food, especially their popular dish—Hippie Hash!
After my first painting, a 5×7″ acrylic, I knew I had to go back—AT NIGHT— to take more pictures to really get that shine through the glass bricks and that glow of the neon lights—not an easy task.
My second painting, 12×24″ acrylic, I worked to capture the neon and the mystery of the Fleetwood in the late summer evening.
Creating a piece of art is not enough if you put it out into the world. A titled is required. Some artists think the art should speak for itself and “Untitled” is sufficient. Most viewers would like more. They would like to gain a little insight from the title. What was the artist thinking when they created this piece?
More likely, what was the artist thinking when they created this title?
Obvious titles such as “Apples in a Bowl” at least allow a way to inventory the work. I am guilty all too often of taking this easy way out. Other options are to pick a small, bright spot in the work, or the focal point.
Some artists look to poetry, songs, quotes, religion, books, or humor to find their titles. If you paint a lake you might avoid the name of the lake or you may turn off potential buyers because it’s not their lake.
Every once in awhile when I come up with my concept for the piece, I come up with the title at the same time. That’s the best. I feel like I’m on a first name basis with my art before I’ve even painted it. How can that not turn out good?
After much soul searching and staring at my new painting I came up with “Ethereal Glow” for the title. I didn’t want to be obvious—”Fish in Pond”, Koi and Goldfish”, or “Sunlit something”. They certainly did glow in the sun, and looked somewhat heavenly as they swam in and out of the green and blue depths. What do you think?
Long ago when I learned to use a computer I quickly got used to the UNDO command. My thumb and middle finger became ingrained in this keyboard motion and I found my fingers repeating this motion in spite of myself whenever I make a mistake whether I was on a computer or not!
There is no such command in painting. I think I’m done with a painting but…maybe…that one area might look better if it were a bit lighter…noooooo. It doesn’t. UNDO. UNDO. UNDO. Sigh…
If the paint underneath was dry I might be able to wipe it off, but that is not the case. So I scrape it off and repaint, telling myself how stupid I am. But, frustrating as it may be, it always turns out better than it was to begin with. Wow. And I’m happy again.
A friend of mine confessed that her thumb and finger try to expand pictures in magazines to make them bigger. Ha!
One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.
All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”
Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.
By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.
Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.
When I lived in California I was lucky enough to take a week-long portrait and figure painting, watercolor workshop from world famous artist Mary Whyte. One afternoon we ventured out of the studio to the beach (we were right on the coast in Crescent City) to take some photos of the model. Let’s face it, you don’t normally come across young women dressed like this strolling the beach.
It was a foggy day and the light was strange. The ocean and the sky was a strange, muted yellow green. I painted it once true to the photo, but after the online course I took this past winter, photos are just a reference and I have broken free from trying to reproduce them—a very big breakthrough for me.
Some people don’t like people in their art; others love the human, lively element people add to a painting. Which do you prefer?
When my friend invited a group of us to go to the sand dunes, I was thinking hiking the dune and some nature trails by Lake Michigan.
As she parked the car I saw one large dune and a public beach. She unloaded a blanket, towel and beach chair and headed for the beach. I was not prepared. I was not dressed for the beach. I did not bring a blanket, towel or chair. Luckily I had a hat, sunscreen, sketchbook and camera.
It was near the end of summer and I then had shoulder surgery, then it was fall and then the holidays, yada yada yada. I have been wanting to paint this beach scene (and others) since last year.
Finally! This little girl gets to go swimming!
I definitely would frame in a floater frame or edge-to-edge frame so nothing gets covered up.
I was listening to a podcast by the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood, where she interviews successful artists (http://www.savvypainter.com), and the artist was saying he works on 40 to 50 canvases at a time.
Well my studio isn’t big enough to do that, but I’ve been working on one piece at a time. Working small and in oil, wet on wet, it generally requires finishing a painting in one session.
Lately though, some of the techniques I want to use haven’t been working and it would seem the paint needs to dry before I apply the next layer. So working on more than one piece would be beneficial.
Also, a fellow artist point out to me that if you are having a problem with a painting and getting frustrated, setting it aside and working on another can 1) build your confidence back up, and 2) going back to the first painting later you may see the problem in a new light and it has solved itself.
Indeed it seems to be working. I started this tulip painting, and then started a beach scene. Came back and finished the tulips and started 2 more beach scenes. Solving problems in one saves time with the next and letting areas dry for a certain texture is working well. I like it.