In last week’s post, I talked about the idea of painting in a series to combine familiar subject matter with personal style. In the process, I’m using four ways of drawing. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but all are necessary to develop a concept. I can draw from:
- Life: Painting from life means standing in front of the object and observing it while painting. I have to slow down and focus on a limited area. I absorb the sounds and smells of the river as well as the visual information. Limited time and changing light force me to simplify. The disadvantage is that it requires a large commitment of time to gather enough source material for a series. Sometimes a particular angle can be photographed, but it may not be convenient to set up an easel and work on a slippery rock or in the middle of a bike path.
- Photos: Photos allow me to try out lots angles and unusual perspectives and to have much more material for a series. However, the level of detail in a photo can be distracting and must be simplified. Also, the darks in the photos often appear black and need to be adjusted.
- Imagination: This is where I get to use a particular color scheme that has meaning to me. I can use colors to evoke a particular time of day or create a mood. I can also manipulate scale and try different painting techniques. Imagination is the ingredient that can make a painting more than just a pretty picture.
- Other art: I’m inspired by Les Fauves and other artists who paint their local landscapes in personal expressive color. I don’t want to copy their paintings, but to incorporate high intensity colors and distinct brushstrokes to show my local landscape in different ways.
In this second painting of the series, I used a monochrome painting to focus on the composition and to stay away from local color. I made another red, white, and black gesso underpainting. Then I used different cool and warm red paints to overpaint. This turned out to be a fairly successful monochrome color scheme, although the addition of white made it more pink than red. I found it easy to use reds on the bridge, but I was surprised that I had more hesitation in what colors to use in the trees instead of just automatically going for green.
I consider this painting a study, not a finished piece, but it’s a necessary step in testing composition and thinking about how to advance the series.