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

Painting as music :: Peindre comme la musique

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death” 
― Leonardo da Vinci

Today I was ruminating on the process of painting and I suddenly realized that the musical process is very similar to the painting process (as some of you know, my first degree was in music). In learning a musical piece, we actually cut it up into small sequences, and concentrate on the very demanding parts… once these parts have been mastered, then all parts can be played in a seamless manner.

Painting is similar…. as we tend to look at the most difficult parts of the painting, we practice them on scrap paper… once the logic of the angle, or of the perspective or the values or of the colours have been solved, then we can start painting our piece. So here are little bits of practice drawings to show the process… these are called thumbnails.

Aujourd’hui j’ai beaucoup réfléchi sur le processus de peindre… et il ressemble beaucoup à celui de jouer de la musique. Pour apprendre une pièce, nous nous concentrons sur les parties plus difficiles pour les maîtriser et ensuite, nous regardons la pièce dans son ensemble. Pour peindre, nous regardons les niveaux de difficulté de certaines régions de la pièce… les valeurs de tonalité, la perspective, les couleurs à utiliser, et une fois que nous avons pris la décision, nous sommes prêts à peindre le tout.

Moleskine Sketchbook
Pen: Twisbi Mini Classic EF
Colour: Noodlers #41 Brown