Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Seascape Painting

The painting of most subjects can be learned by looking at subject itself. One exception is the painting of seascapes. That can often be learned best by looking at someones work who paints seascapes well rather than sitting and looking at real waves crashing on the beach.

Getting Results

Don't be overly concerned with the results of your painting. After all, it is just paint on canvas. Move on to the next one and the mistakes you have made combined with what you have learned making those mistakes will serve to make your next work a little better. Laboring over a painting by trying push it to the point you know you would like to see it is often a futile excercise and can worsen your final results. We all have limits from which we cannot exceed. If you have a general idea where those limits are and not beat yourself up over not reaching them every time, your progress will be natural and steady.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Playing up the Important

When everything is bright, then nothing is bright. If you want something to demand attention, make whatever is around it less important like the background behind this small flower painting.

Field Studies

I have seen artists paint on location and use it as reference for a larger more finished work to be done at their studio and tell others how important that procedure is. I have never been able to grasp that concept. When I paint outside, I am never able to finish the painting on location and I never use it as reference to do a larger piece. After painting outside, I finish a painting in the studio and leave it at that, then I have a nicely finished small painting to show rather than leaving it as a study. To create a larger painting I need more information than I'm able to glean during the half hour I painted outside. The idea of painting less and making more of it later just doesn't work for me. My field paintings are simplified and basic and seldom can I transfer that to a larger piece. It doesn't mean that plein air painting is of no value. The soul of the subject can often be felt while in the field as opposed to being in the studio. That information can be mindfully stored and often comes out naturally in future paintings. I require information to complete a larger painting and I use a camera to capture the details I need for a large work, not just a small field study.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thoughts on Essence

All my life I have heard artists say that they want to capture the essence of the subject. It is one of those phrases that sounds good and makes the artist feel like they have insights into things that others don't.
So, I've been thinking about it lately (now that I'm nearing my late 50's) and I have on occassion captured the essence of my subject. When it happens I know it but it wasn't something I could force. The more times it has happened, the closer I have become to knowing what it means to me.
Artists must pick and choose what they want to focus on in a painting. Whatever that is becomes the center of interest. all else becomes subservient and takes on a suporting role. It is the difference between a painting and a photograph. The camera, at leasts for most of us, can't capture the essence as it sees all things equally. A good artist, however, transforms the landscape into important and unimportant features that all work together. Those who paint every blade of grass thinking they are capturing nature cannot possibly capture the essence of the subject. It may take lots of time but takes little skill to paint every detail equally. Essence is achieved when one captures an entire field of grass with a few strokes of the brush and gets the feeling of vastness, richness, depth, and light. If those few strokes convey those things they have captured the essence of the subject. Essence is the ability to take the complex, reduce it to the minimum but within that minimum reveal more than the combination of all those blades of grass put together.