Thursday, September 23, 2010

HOW DOES ONE FREE ONESELF: BECOMING MORE PAINTERLY?

I'm looking at the last few paintings I've done and they seem too stiff.  Not painterly enough.  I want to get to a point where my work is more flowing, blending of more colors on the paper, not the palette, etc.  Good texture, color, and value - these are things I want in my paintings.  But I don't see my paintings turning out that way.  Somewhere between wanting and doing, something takes over and controls my brush.  I become timid with color.  I look at the photo reference too much and try to mimic that instead of putting it aside and painting (after using the photo just to start).  So...more work, more painting.  Someday I'll get there, yes?  I hope...

Do we paint in a way that coordinates with our personalities? 

Here is SmokeScape as it stands.  I think I need to put it aside for a while and let it tell me what it needs after a break...

16 comments:

Gretchen Bjornson ART said...

One thing I've found that seems to help me is to paint without the reference photo. There was one time I had sketched some flowers from a reference photo for a painting and set it aside. A few weeks later I was ready to paint, but couldn't find my image. So I decided to jump right into the painting and make it up as I went along....the end result was different colors, fresh and loose brush strokes, and freedom of my reliance on that photo. I still rely on reference photos, but I try to focus only on the values and shapes. I can usually tell when I begin to fall into that habit and have to step back and retrain my brain to look at it differently. Hope that's a bit of help at least.

Irina said...

Considering my long lasting experience (2 years!) and 50-50% results I see that everyday practice gives progress. Plus workshops. And concentration on process with no caring about the result.
It looks like brain accumulates the info and some time later you just know what to do and do it freely.
And if I fail, who cares? Drawing is the joy of my life, not an obligation.
Help?))))

AK said...

you are right. All of us generally tend to look at the reference too much. Any way the more you paint the more you learn. No short cuts.

Carol Blackburn said...

Well, first of all, in my opinion, you've chosen a rather difficult scene to paint so don't be too hard on yourself. I bet you'll pull it off if you only touch it when you truly feel inspired to do so. When I have a piece like that I often do smaller, quicker, fun paintings in the time I take away from the larger piece. Looking forward to seeing your progress with this.............

Ann Buckner said...

Love the sky and smoke/mist in this one Rhonda.

RHCarpenter said...

Gretchen, I know you're right about weaning myself away from the photo - look at it at first and then turn it over and go on instinct and what I want to convey about the scene, person, etc. Or printing out a black and white copy to use after I have some colors put down as a start...

Irina, only 2 years? I am amazed at how far you've come in 2 years. I've been at it for 7 years now and seem to go 2 steps forward and 1 step back all the time. I wish I could focus on the process and leave the resultant image to whatever the painting gods demand at the time!

Asit, yes, more painting = better painting in the end.

Carol, I don't seem to know the difference between an easy subject and a difficult one - truly!! I just see something I want to paint and think I can do it. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself right now - a tendency I have, I admit.

Thanks, Ann. I'm always pleased when you stop by and comment. I hope your Mom's birthday was GREAT!!

Thank you all, my painting friends!!!

Carrie H. said...

Free yourself up with some warm up exercises. Take a quarter sheet and divide it into fourths. looking at your reference, do four small studies but try to make each one have something different - different light source, different palette, different color scheme, etc. Also spend no more than ten minutes on each. Try one High key, try one low key, try weting some areas and dropping in color, try adding some white gouache.... Just mix it up and have fun. Then when you go back to your painting, set the reference aside and look at your warm ups!
That's all I got for ya today! :)

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

You are very brave working towards this new fresh approach to your art, but don't you think all those past practices using photos have given you a base to grow from. Surely nothing is ever wasted and with this deep desire to become an artist not a copyist you must surely find success. Enjoy the journey.

asmalltowndad said...

Kentucky - Southern Indiana, they say we are the same! LOL
I use reference photos, plein air and imagination on my paintings. I find there are beautiful images to be captured by all the above. Just lately I used reference photos on an elephant, hippo, and rhino, but painted them with purples, red, blues and green, for a more modern look. But your art looks terrific no matter what your references are!

RHCarpenter said...

Excellent ideas, Carrie. I think I'll try it - can't hurt, right? I just need to find my energy today...this 90F+ heat is wearing thin. We NEED rain...rain...rain.

Joan, thanks, but I think it's in all of us to keep striving, keep trying, keep searching - which means never be satisfied, I guess. The journey isn't always fun but it's worth it!

RHCarpenter said...

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, asmalltowndad! After taking a quick peek at your work, I'm very pleased to receive your gracious comment on my work :) I have done a black rhino in crazy cool colors, too, but right now seem to be wanting to break out without being able to do so...it will come. I struggle for a while and then things settle into another groove for a while - the struggle is part of the growing, I'm sure. Your work is wonderful!

G.L. Everest Paintings said...

Hi Rhonda,
I've been trying to get on board that loosen-up train for years, with little success. What I have discovered along the way is exactly what you suggested; That personality plays a huge role in how we paint. Every time I try to slow down, consider and place a brushstroke, it lasts about two brushstrokes. I'm impatient and simply cannot wait to slap that paint on the canvas. I finally realized we do paint according to our personalities. It will come out, no matter how much you try to stifle it. Not unlike trying to find your personal style. It too, will appear without any purposeful effort, over time. Gee-z-z, art is hard!
Sincerely,
Gary.

RHCarpenter said...

Gary, I know I'm a tight person - always worried and stressing over nothing - so maybe it's a matter of loosening up my grip on things in the real world before I can do so in my painting world? I hope not! I've been trying with the real world for so long and it doesn't seem to be working - just put me on a plane or even suggest a long traveling trip and I panic after years of doing just that = traveling, going places most of my friends have never been, etc. Sorry for the long post - I'm honored to see you here as I so admire your work. Art is like life - a constant journey and struggle to be better :)

Gillian said...

I always empathise with your search for a more loose style and I'm enjoying your exercise pieces very much. For myself I'm coming round to the idea that my own inate style is mine and maybe I'm not meant to to do loose!
Your sense of colour is what always draws me to your work - fabulous!

Lisa Walsh said...

OK, I'm late for class on this one, but I'll throw my two cents in for what it's worth. ;)

I'm in the same boat, and I'm feeling like I'm using my photo references more as a crutch than an inspiration. Here's a couple of things I've tried:

1) Put a sheet or two of tracing paper over the photo. It gets rid of the details, and has you focus on shapes and their relationships.

2) In the same vein, turn the photo upside down and work from it that way. Just concentrate on the abstract shapes, and let it flow.

3) Print the photo in black and white. Take the color scheme from another painting you like, and apply the scheme to the photo reference painting, even if the colors are 'all wrong'.

I find when I mix things up a bit from my usual routine (standing at the easel instead of sitting, for example) it also helps me 'loosen up'.

RHCarpenter said...

Lisa, good good good ideas! I'm going to think about these and get out my tracing paper to put over photos - to think about the shapes, the values, and leave it at that :)

Gillian, you just made me smile - I so want to be known from color since I love it so much - maybe I'm getting there :) I know there's a loose woman inside me wanting to get out! ha ha