Tiny steps to take for a rewarding painting… hopefully!

Creativity takes courage.
— Henri Matisse

There are many steps in painting. Long gone, for me anyway, are the days where the teacher would tell us, let yourself go, drop the paint on the page and see what happens. This method is clearly not for me. However, I do have two methods that I will share with you today.

Paintings that I do, just for the pure pleasure of painting them, are my most common method. I pick a photograph that I like that I have already photographed at some point in time, and I usually paint these in a sketchbook, directly, without any preliminary sketches or thumbnails. And because I do not create these important preliminary thumbnails, they often fall short!! To note, the photographs need to have a significant meaning for me, as in reflecting previous travels or closer to home when I am feeling at sync in my own environment… if the photograph does not have a specific meaning for me, it usually always falls flat.

In the second method, which is usually because I am painting for someone else in mind, like today, I again choose an image from my vast collection of photographs and then I draw carefully first in pencil. Once the drawing has been done, I then have two other steps that I usually do for a serious painting and for my own satisfaction. I create a greyscale “monotone” thumbnail to test out values, to see how they add up. For this version, I used an intense colour that is quite staining but does a good job with values as it is a very intense colour in its pure form. This step also helps me in determining what is important in the painting, and what is less important. If you look at my previous drawing, you will notice that I have a lot of details, and this step might help me afterwards if I decide to paint it a second time, with less detail…

What should always be done is first and foremost, value thumbnails and then hue thumbnails and only then the drawing, which I am regretting not having done at the moment. Sigh…

I then also try out different colours or hues seen below. For these two thumbnails, 2″ x 2″ approximately, on the left-hand side I used Cobalt blue and Raw Sienna as the main two colours. On the right-hand side, I used Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre. Is there one that you prefer?

As you can see I drew first and then did my greyscale values and hues after having drawn… if I had done my greyscale thumbnails and values first, my drawing would definitely be less laboured and with less detail. Artists are usually tenacious and very hard-working and only stop once they are satisfied, well for me anyway, but looking at my artist friends, they are all like this.

Hope that you enjoyed this longer detailed post. Have a nice snow day -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Watercolours: DS Raw Sienna, W&N Yellow Ochre, DS Q. Rose, W&N Burnt Sienna, W&N Cobalt Blue, DS Prussian Blue, DS Carbazole Violet

3 thoughts on “Tiny steps to take for a rewarding painting… hopefully!

  1. Thank you Jane for this quite interesting posts. As are all you posts.

    Both your studies are useful but I prefer your right hand side one with Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre. But that’s me liking bright colors ;-)

    I fully agree with you that a photograph has to resonate with you. It’s always better for me. I recently just noticed that. For the last 3 years I was being too busy studying all kinds of styles and subjects with watercolor tutors whom I admire the work.

    Now, it’s exit urban scenes! I decided to focus on seascapes and skies. But, is it ever hard to focus : there are too many subjects I like… Oh well ! I often feel like a hen running around without it’s head.

    I guess your second method is a longer way but the results are usually there. I do admire artists who do thumbnails, value studies and swatches. I find that it requires patience – patience which unfortunately I do not have. Bang! I move directly to the painting but then, I consider all my paintings as studies…but they are done on excellent paper… lollll

    Bonne continuation ! Diane

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Diane — Oh I have not heard from you in a very long time, but I guess that I have not been painting as much. Studying all kinds of styles is totally confusing also… it is good to learn from them, but after a while, we just need to develop our own style. I really like what Gurney says: “I would suggest to alternate between: sketching grom life, working from the imagination and copying from the Masters”. These three really have helped me out. I am with you too concerning urban sketching. Painting in big groups is really not for me, I love my studio and spend most of my painting time there and once in a while I take the car to paint. But to talk with other people while painting is very nerve racking for me. I went on your blog too and I would like to receive emails when you post, and I couldn’t find a link for that. Maybe that I missed it? Thank you -)))

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for your reply. After 3 years in watercolor I am now being brave enough to paint from imagination (almost…lol) and to try and fly by myself here and there. I do not publish on my blog anymore except for the Inktober challenge which I still follow every year. I did not publish on my journey in the world of watercolor. Maybe I will return to my blog ? You can enter your email on the right hand side of the ‘accueil’ page and click the button ‘suivre’. I now have an Instagram account where I publish my watercolor works @letripdupinceau

        Liked by 2 people

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