A favorite pastime of mine is to create something from absolutely NOTHING. That is, make well designed, non objective paintings. This does not mean just sliming on the paint and hoping for a great outcome or waiting for a happy a accident to happen. It means carefully designing overall light shapes (groupings of light values) and placing that or those groupings into a context of other dark and medium valued shapes. Shape design (making appealing shapes) is at the center of this as is the consideration of the relative sizes of lights, darks and mediums. One value must dominate and the others be subordinate. (This is a huge factor in successful paintings). The character (e.g. organic, geometric, linear) of the shapes in context with others also is a consideration. Then direction / movement plays in as well. Once that is established, color and texture come into the scheme and must play out with the shapes and values to set an overall mood. In keeping with the mood, the artist must also decide how to hold the viewer’s attention with contrasts of various kinds . . .and where to put them in the composition.
Now that it has been mentioned, the exact same ideas and principles apply in making an objective painting of a subjet. EXACTLY the same! Abstract / Non objective / Realistic are all the same in the eyes of the basic structure of a painting. Surprisingly, subject has no bearing on the actual attractiveness (or repulsiveness) of the piece. It all lies in how the artist structured the underlying design and composition.
This piece is going to be featured at my open studio and not offerred for sale, since I plan to enter it into various watercolor competitions. Squint and you can see a great abstraction of values in this piece . . . .and you can feel the musty, dark corner of an old, neglected workshop.
(I post this because I am so darned busy framing and organizing the house and the show. Hopefully, I will have something to show in the next day or so. And besides, “Opa” is waiting to be painted too!}
oil on linen on panel, 10″ x 8″
Today I am visiting with a “famous artist.” We will be playing golf or just flopping around and painting someplace on the coast of California. We have been internet pals since 1993 and get to see each other only rarely. Maybe I’ll record the event and post something tomorrow.
The same goes for painting. It isn’t as simple as hitting a ball, but one does subconsciously and gradually solve many of the awkward puzzles and challenges of the process. It really is about avoiding traps and obstacles. It is Waaaaaay more than technique. Deliberation and thought are the cornerstones to good painting. And, it’s also about those little teensy tiny realizations that if you do this, then that happens. (Just like golf.) Sometimes, all it takes is someone else’s comment to help us connect the dots suddenly. And, suddenly, the game takes on new meaning and direction. We actually win a few.
For example, I teach color theory and practice in watercolor. I KNOW that in most circumstances, as the light turns to shadow and a surface turns away from you, the color becomes cooler. I have several exercises in my classes about this! Yet, it wasn’t until three or four days after another painter said ‘that needs a cool back edge to help it turn away from you, that I suddenly went Oooohhh!!!! Fer goonesss sakes! I already knew that! Why didn’t I connect the dots ?!!
Now, if someone would just make a comment about my putting. (pleeeeze!!)
These little ‘minor adjustments’ took the better part of an hour . . .and some fussing.
Compare and see what you see. I think this is a measurable improvement.