Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Overcome a Painter's block

If you have produced "good" paintings in the past, but find yourself going through 3-4 or more unsuccessful paintings you might start asking yourself things like;
-Have I got what it takes?
-What's wrong with me?
-Did I ever know what I was doing?
    When I get to this point I realize my thinking is not on track and usually I am painting the subject and not the design, which is the first and most important layer of a painting (I will talk about layers later). Getting back on track is the next step.
    How I do this is to head for the book shelf and pull out a book containing paintings by a well proven artist, like John Singer Sargent. He was a painter of Dukes, chandeliers and satin ball gowns but he was so much more. Underneath every painting sat a fabulous abstract compositional structure.
    Grab a small sketch pad, some vine charcoal and a pencil. Pick a random image from the book and do a small (5") thumbnail black and white sketch. This is a simple diagram of the major shapes in the piece. Do about 5 of these, tape them up on the wall and look at what they have in common:

-Most of the darks are linked together
-Shapes are anchored to the edges of the canvas
-Diagonals move your eye to the center of interest
-There is nothing in the painting that does not have a purpose

Yes, this is what good design looks like!

Now do some similar thumbnail sketches of images
you are thinking about painting. Put those up by the first ones. Do they have the same things going for them? Work until you get one that you like. Next post Beginning the Painting

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