Years ago I used to paint "plein-air" all the time. These days I rarely venture away from the comfort of my studio, which is a shame and something I've been working on rectifying of late.
"Limitations breed creativity"
Last November I wrote an article about Moving Forward, since every artist at some point wonders how they can move forward with their painting. I wrote the following article to illustrate how "The Plan" I wrote about in that article, might work.
Workshops or classes are needed to learn techniques and try out new ideas but I think real learning comes from challenging oneself.
We only solve problems when we are faced with them and with this in mind I enjoy setting new challenges for myself.
I sometimes set myself what others consider to be unnecessary restrictions but I think of restrictions as positive. They force me to think and work in new ways. When I'm free to do what I want I have a tendency, as we all do, to stay firmly in the safety of my established comfort zone. Once I construct challenges for myself I find that the limitations, rather than limiting what I can do, actually increase my skill, productivity, knowledge and understanding. Why wouldn't you want to do that too?
The Thumbnail Challenge
"Only the painter who knows his business can create the impression that a picture was done in one stroke" ~ Pierre Auguste-Renoir.
One of the most commonly asked questions is, "How can I simplify my paintings?". The answer lies in the planning process, a step usually thought of as "boring" and therefore omitted.
"Thumbnail sketches” are small, preliminary sketches used to work out composition, tonal balance other areas that can make the painting process problematic. They can be used to explore the effect of adding or subtracting elements in your painting without committing time and paint to a large sheet of paper.
Before starting a painting it's a good idea to make some compositional sketches, because planning makes the painting process easier.
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can really go." - T S Elliott.
At some point every artist wonders how they can move forward with their painting. With this in mind I wrote the following article, which I hope will answer as many questions as it raises.
Painting, with the intention of pushing yourself beyond that which you can comfortably do, will take you further. That's easier said than done, of course. I have used my painting above to illustrate this article as it was pivotal in my own journey as an artist.
Creating a plan for achieving whatever you want begins with knowing precisely what you want to achieve and creating a list of things that will take you there.
To help, I have divided the task into three stages...
“You use a mirror of glass to see yourself; you use Art to see your soul." George Bernard Shaw.
I have made a list of challenges and I set my weekly class the task of completing one at the end of each month.
It's been quite a while since I posted one so here's another example:-
Paint a self-portrait using still-life objects that describe or represent you.
This challenge will encourage you to think in a creative way.
Painting using just one colour.
"Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things." ~ Pablo Picasso.
I made a list of challenges and give my weekly class the task of completing one a month. Last month I posted the challenge of painting with the wrong hand. This month, as we are dealing with tone, I challenge you to paint a picture using only one colour.
Spotlight on watercolour exercises.
"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." ~ Zig Ziglar.
CHALLENGE:- PAINT WITH THE WRONG HAND
Accept a challenge.
”The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.” ~ David Bayles.
I am a great advocate of the saying "failing to prepare is preparing to fail" however, whilst creative brilliance is often achieved through consideration and detailed planning there are few gains without risk, but this can be a hard thing for artists to come to terms with.
To take any kind of risk in order to develop your artwork is difficult once you have attained a certain level of success. However, as creativity implies the production of something new, you can see it is not always of benefit to have a clear idea of an end result in mind. Therefore, challenging yourself by taking risks should not be seen as something detrimental to creativity but rather, should be seen as an opportunity to be open to new possibilities and stop prior judgements being made about a works outcome.
Putting a "Spotlight on Watercolour"
I am a watercolour artist and tutor. Welcome to my painting blog.
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