Friday, September 23, 2016

Painting from the imagination

Blue and Orange
I've been practicing creating paintings without any references or preliminary designs. I wanted to try both a floral and a figure painting. I chose simple color schemes and just started drawing on the canvases with a paintbrush, sketching rough outlines and then blocking in the colors. I intended to work loosely, and wanted to see how lively I could make each painting.

After painting from photographs for so many years, I'm excited to see what images I can come up with just by working first and thinking after.

The vase and flowers came together really quickly, and the only repainting I've done is to balance the pattern of flowers and add bits of the accent colors.

Out Of The Rain
The figure painting took several days, and while I liked the design and general color scheme immediately, I had trouble making it interesting enough for its large 16"x20" size. I tried several tricks from Robert Burridge's website videos, and each one of them was very useful. The first one was using alcohol in the foreground to create the splash effect. But I still had a flat, featureless background where I wanted to add texture and interest without adding any detail. I found it impossible to imagine a satisfactory pattern, so I got out a soft pastel and just scribbled a looping random pattern of circles over the whole painting. I took different shades of pale yellows and oranges and just filled in the circles to look like vague and maybe blurred light sources. It was simple to remove (with a wet paper towel) or paint over the remaining pastel lines that I chose not to use. I've never used pastel on a canvas before, but I'll certainly do it again. In fact, I'm looking forward to playing with it a lot more.

I did wonder why it was so quick and easy to paint the background on the flowers and so hard for me to figure out what to do on the figures. On the flowers, I knew I wanted a gradation from light to dark,  and instinctively threw on a bit of violet with the blue, and those two things provided enough variation in the proportionally smaller background. But with the figures, there's a lot more background, and though I put in a range of colors at the beginning—almost white to shades of yellow and pale orange—it just wasn't adding enough to the design. The only idea I had was of building lights, but that was more detail than I wanted. When I decided to try the pastel to generate a pattern, circles were simply the first thing I thought of, and as I drew them, I could see how they supported the feel I wanted, that it was really all about the figures. I didn't need to imply direction or movement or any other objects, I just wanted a supportive pattern. And that's what happened.

I think the point is that any painting can present challenges along the way, and it isn't always easy to come up with solutions. The more things you try, the more ideas you're going to generate, and trying things generates ideas much more quickly than thinking.

The last trick I used was streaking with a cheap decorator's brush to create the effect of rain falling.

I've really profited from Burridge's videos. You can find them HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment