When I've had the chance to paint recently, I've been exploring new shapes and compositions. This is a fun process, and essential, I think. I've been told that one of the worst things, as an artist, is to get relatively good at something and then trap yourself and just do it over and over again. That takes all the fire out of the thing! :(
Part of the fun of making art, for me anyways, is exploring new experiences and techniques. Taking risks, challenging myself and playing in a space where I don't know exactly what's always going to happen. One of the funny things, of course, is you have to break a few eggs along the way. In my experience, that's the best way for me to learn. As such, I wanted to share some of my messups, as well as the following paintings that I was more satisfied with, and to note how earlier struggles informed my later (more successful) painting choices.
This floral was done as a demo in a workshop. Not terrible, but not my favorite. I wasn't paying enough attention to my color palette, nor the vase. The goal, of course, was to provide a demo of wet into wet painting, and not to provide a subject that was too difficult, but still...
However, at the end of the same workshop, I hammered out this pair of roses as a demo, and was quite happy with the result. They sort of surprised me! :D I paid attention to detail when I needed to, particularly on the vase and stems, let the simpler composition dictate my more cohesive color choices, and reserved my darks for only the most critical places.
Southwest Shapes and Colors-
I've also been exploring some of the subject matter from my Southwest trip this last summer. This is a strange new color palette for me! I want to somehow communicate the glow on the rocks, which requires a thoughtful use of color, but the shapes and color scheme were all wrong for me in this earlier piece. I admit- sometimes I get 1/2 way through a painting and I lose interest, such as with this one. I could tell I wasn't going to be really satisfied with the result. If I can, however, I make myself power through. The paintings don't take that long anyways. There's lots to learn by going all the way through the painting process... particularly when I try a similar painting later.
Below is that "similar painting done later". One of my absolute favorite destinations in the southwest was was Antelope Canyon. I did my reading, and made a point to arrive around 12 noon and to go to the lower (less visited) canyon. Heaven!! Such amazing rock formations. Sigh... :)
My color palette was definitely influenced by my earlier Southwest attempt, as I tried to mute my color choices and reserve my higher chroma areas for special locations. I also attempted to integrate more wet work into this one than my previous piece, so that the harder lines stood out more and had something to contrast against. I was very drawn to the idea that the composition is really an abstract born out of organic shapes, and it needs to work as one before I even think of it as the actual location I went to. I paid close attention to the arrangement of leading lines, as well as chroma and value contrasts.
These last two were done on the same day. Sometimes, I like to work on two pieces at once. As the first wash on one dries, I begin work on the second painting. I find it can help keep things fresh and less overworked, and helps foster the mentality that "I've got another painting waiting for me, so why futz over this one and make too many unneeded marks!" :)
This first one is from Barcelona. I had a great time drawing it and was in love with that cast shadow on the face of the skinny building, but I began to recognize (only part way through) that I didn't really have an interesting focal point or human element. I also felt that the colors for my first wash were too strident and lacked variety. The sky was too blue and the building too yellow and without variety- color use should help create a sense of depth and varied light.
This last painting is from a photo I took at a train station in Spain. I've had people think it was BART, which I can see very much as well. Of course, the goal is for it to be any train station anywhere. I wanted to capture that sunny anticipation of waiting.
My reference photo didn't have the person, but the moment I took the picture, I knew the sort of subject I wanted. That was a clear shift from the previous painting, where I recognized (only late in the game) the lack of a story. Both paintings are very "perspective dominant", but this one features a great deal more trapped light which drew my eye into the little pockets. I muted my colors and focused on a choosing a warm, dominant color scheme. I also tried to vary my values more, by pushing my darks in key areas, while modulating my other tones to get a fuller range.
For sure, the time I took to thoughtfully self-critique the trip-ups on the previous painting informed all sorts of decisions on this one.