I know I’m supposed to have a plan, a value study, at least an idea of a warm or cool palette. Usually, I have none of these. Patience is not my strength. That must be why I’ve never experienced “the white canvas” fear.
If I spent just one hour determining what I wanted to paint, how I want to do it and what the message or mood of the painting would be, I would save a lot of time in completing a work.
1. I’ll do a floral. After a certain number of bright flowers, I decided “enough”. But the floral arrangement didn’t take up much of the canvas.
2. I’ll put a woman in, much like Matisse often did. She’ll have to be way back in the painting to get behind the flowers. What will her mood be? Paint her without a reference and she will reveal herself. Okay, she looks pensive or sad, so I can go with that theme.
3. How do I fill up this large expanse of table now? I love violin music, so even though I can’t play a single instrument, I’ll put a violin on the table. I’ll need a reference for sure. Five attempts later, drawing and redrawing the violin (with paint) in proper perspective, I pour myself a glass of wine. I’ll give my girl a glass, too. My wine finished, I see that I’ll have to add a wine bottle and glass to the right of the violin to fill in the composition. I’ll wait till morning to include that.
4. The next morning is a fresh look at the painting. The wine bottle and empty glass are added. With the bottle content, I realize the my girl is on her second glass. because the other glass is empty. Who is this glass for? Did he come and leave? Did he not show up? Is the violin his or hers?
5. Obviously the entire left side of the painting needs some substance to balance it. The trusted idea of a square within a square to make a good composition comes to mind. A window. A cat looking out the window. She has to be looking at something, so I decide on sailboats coming in at sunset. Sunset needs more work.
6. The cowrie shell my Dad brought back from his time in the Pacific during World War II adds a bit more mystery to the painting. Dad told me to put my ear to the shell and I could hear the Pacific Ocean. He was right. I still listen and think of him.
7. The pottery with paint brushes puts a little of “me” into the paintings and the violin bow pulls the composition into a pattern that keeps the viewer’s eye going around the painting without leaving.
This is a painting in progress still. Colors will change for sure, and maybe a few objects, but I wanted to show the labor I am still going through to get to a finish that works for me. I mark different areas in the painting with charcoal to remind me of changes. I sometimes paint right into the charcoal lines that show size changes and get a shadow effect that can work very well or be disastrous and need repainting. The closer view shows some of these marks.
When finished, I’ll repost the painting, but for other artists, especially, it’s fun to see an individual’s process and mistakes, and the ideas that pop up while at work.
And for my next painting, I WILL have a pan. No, really.