New things to try...
A new painting sits on the table easel. What you see is an "under-painting."
Using a very thin coat of tube color, I simply block in the areas and items. Artists call this "killing the white." It is a great trick to do to get to know your composition and think about your colours and tonal relationships. A clean white canvas can be intimidating.
Trying new things is automatic as the young artist seeks to find what they enjoy the most and can paint the best.
As we age we tend to cycle in our favorite colours, styles and tastes. I read a book years ago that said that women in particular change their preferences about every 7-10 years. That must be what frightens men so much!
Last year I had trouble handling my own large framed originals at the shows. I like the idea of painting large as it is so gratifying to complete a huge masterpiece, but it can be tiring if the painting part lasts longer than the inspiration!
This year I vowed to paint smaller works.
They will be easier to handle and my collectors are asking for them.
I decided to work on panels and canvases that are around 8 x10." In the photo above you can see a few different styles of canvases. Bottom right are 2 small linen canvases I bought in Paris. I keep waiting for just the right subject for these... probably scenes I saw there. That would be sentimental, fun and appropriate. I love shopping for art supplies in other countries. I like the banana paper from Honduras for sketches, Sennelier oils from France and watercolour paper from Italy.
The brown panels in the canvas photo are unfinished pieces or "hardboard" or Masonite. It is convenient to buy the 4 x 8' sheet at the hardware stores and have them cut it up in pieces.
It is more work to sand each piece and then give it about 4 coats of gesso, but the surface is smooth and great for paintings where I will have lots of fine detail and want to avoid the texture of real canvas.
In my classes if I get the time, I teach how this is done and then even make a panel for each student so they can have the experience of painting on a new surface. In my August still life classes I will be teaching on this substrate.
As I started inside the other day I noticed a snail on the roof of my porch! How or why was he so diligently making his way across this surface?
The fact that he had made it so far out of his usual location on the ground made me laugh. I suppose he is trying new things too.
What a lesson for life.
The search began to find all my small items that could be used in a simple still life. It did not take long to find a full collection.
Next was a real treat... brush shopping! I made a new brush holder and dug out a palette knife that is almost 100 years old. Perfect excuse to put it to use!
I dug out one of the small table top easels I use for my classes. I really advocate standing to paint. It works better simply because I move around more and get a better look at my own progress from a better distance.
I don't like working with artificial flowers, but for the sake of finding a pleasing arrangement, it will work real well. If you do use artificial flowers, make sure you get the best quality.
A real key to enjoying your painting experience is to paint things you love. The still life offers you an opportunity to immortalize your favorite things. As I worked with the more "traditional" items in a still life, I quickly discovered I really wanted to paint things around me this summer. From another genre than pearls and crystal, I am very excited about painting little green apples, pottery and baskets.
I realized how my tastes have changed. Maybe I was just going back to my country roots. It was a personal awareness. I enjoy my country life and the simple things around me. Where I once thought a more sophisticated life style was what I wanted, I am most content at this time to celebrate what I have.
If you make a change in your painting subjects or approach, take the offer of help from other artists and read their books, web sites and study their art. If you don't find what you want to do, you may find what you do not want to do which sometimes more helpful !
Learning to paint is like getting to know the real you.
I hope you like the person you find!
Celebrate life! Be yourself and count your blessings.
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