In my last post I shared my difficulty getting my " Mojo working" - after a summer with little painting and following a Brian Atyeo workshop that really shook me up .
This past week I have been working through my issues. Its many of the same issues that have caused me difficulty before. Basically, I have not been following my own workshop advise.
1. Time pressure. We are in Ontario for just a few more weeks. The Galleries that have asked to represent me need product. I don't handle painting , particularly larger pieces, well under pressure. I paint fast - but but only up to a point. The final stages of critique and correction can go on for days. But I need to view the painting on a regular basis, and under different lighting, in order to find those corrections, big or small, that would strengthen the work - or to decide that it is a "junker". That has not been happening in our small condo.
2. Drop the reference. I am feeling a bit intimidated painting in this new region. I don't have a good grasp of or a feeling for the place - something that often only comes by painting the local scenes plein air. Painting on location forces decision making and encourages inventiveness that can be brought back to the studio. So I have been following my reference photos far too long in the painting process - painting in fear of failure. Once the large value shapes are placed and a few details in I should be dropping the reference and becoming inventive and only returning to the reference if there is a particular area of concern that needs to be close to correct.
3. Advanced planning. I normally make sketches varying the composition - playing with ideas. I use pencils and markers focusing on values of the large shapes.I often take the reference image and "play with it" digitally - particularly changing values of different areas - such as opening up dark shadows. I have not taken the time for selecting references or planning my compositions adequately.
4. Critiquing. I normally stop after a few hours or when I reached a point of not knowing how to proceed and critique the work. I set the piece aside for a day or two, still keeping it in view, normally in our TV/reading room. Often short glances will help me find new ideas. If nothing comes to mind but I am still not happy it can stay "on view" for many days . In this small condo I don't have space for viewing large pieces - and at a suitable distance.
5. Tools. The first thing I do is take a quick photo with my cell phone ( Samsung S6) , send it to my cloud ( Dropbox) then pull it down to my laptop to manipulate. I begin by converting to black and white to see if the large shapes are unique and distinct ( I use ACDSee - Ultimate 8) . This step I do routinely, particularly for large pieces. If needed I can select shapes and move them to test new ideas. In some cases I use Sketchbook Pro to manipulate the image, changing values or colours or draw in new shapes. Nice thing is that I can do all this while watching TV in the evening (love British dramas on PBS).
|viewing outside where I can get away from them 30x48 and 36x36s|
|B and W to compare value shapes- normally done individually|
|Pulling an image of the painting into Sketchbook Pro to play with|
While I am still having difficulties I have stopped painting under time pressure and getting back on track with critique and corrections. And it is bringing back a level of satisfaction I was missing earlier. Acrylic is a medium allowing "commit and correct" to be used to full advantage. Some days I feel that I am "in the zone" and a painting seems to flow from the brushes - start to finish in one sitting. Hoping that will return soon.