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Planning a Series of Paintings


Two figurative artists who inspire me are Skip Lawrence and Michael Nisperos.  I have posted  these samples of their work because I think they are really good examples of the visual themes of solitude and relationships using the human form as subject matter.

When starting a new series and looking at a fresh batch of blank canvases I try and organise myself with an action plan.  The first steps are to to pick a theme, then a subject, then the medium.   Then I get started and try desperately to stick to the plan.  (That’s the hard part.)   So, here is my latest plan to get me ready for Lake Country Art Walk in September.  Nothing like putting it out there to make yourself show up to a challenge.

My goal is to produce at least six paintings

Themes — What Do I Want to Comment on?

  • Relationships /Solitude
  • Containment /Freedom
  • Growth and Survival

Subject Matter–What Am I going to Paint?

  • Human Form
  • Vessels
  • Country Life – Trees and Water
  • City Life – Buildings and Streets

 Mediums and Design Elements  –How Am I going to Paint?

  • Strong shapes, Strong lines
  • limited palette of colours
  • applied gesture drawings in charcoal and crayon
  • acrylic paint, latex house paint
  • alternating thick and thin texture –  drips and spackle
  • poetic text stenciled into image or collaged from another source (maybe)

My Advice? Join a Painting Support Group

I took the time to play hookey from job search yesterday to attend my art support group, the Company of Artists.  As usual, they nailed what I needed to do with my cityscape to bring it to a resolution.  So I came home and added more highlights as they suggested.   Now I will varnish it and call it finished.

Being part of a painting group is so helpful to one’s art.  Even when the members have vastly differing styles.  Let’s face it, the elements and principles of design are the same despite the manner in which they are laid down on the canvas.

These are the five questions I answered “yes” to before I declared my painting completed:

  1. Is there a focal point?
  2. Is there a good range of at least three values with strong contrasts?
  3. Is the subject big enough for the format?
  4. Is the colour temperature consistent with the mood?
  5. Do any of the elements (shape, line, texture) repeat?

It feels so good to actually finish a painting!

My next artistic energies will be applied to my entry for the Okanagan Erotic Art Show.  Plus, I want to get started on a large tree image this weekend.  And, I have to finish my little Coquihalla River painting for the art class that I am teaching.  Whew!  So, it will be a busy week.  Hopefully I will be able to declare another piece finished during the coming week.  Stay tuned.

Get Inspired Online!

Can’t draw worth beans?   No problemo!

Watch this youtube video for one idea on how to turn a simple circle design into a dynamic composition.

Or, maybe you a more hard-edge person?  Then check this out  for ideas on making compositions using squares and rectangles.

Or…… maybe you are a doodler?  Check this out

Make several small (6″ x 6″ maximum) exploratory designs in your sketchbook, but remember to use only one colour scheme at a time.  (monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split-complementary, or triadic)  Write it down at the top of the page before you start to help keep you focussed on your learning task.

Art is Really About the Process, not the Product

Untitled, 8" x 10"

I am in the process of developing an idea for a painting to enter in the juried Okanagan Erotic Art Show.

I love the quality of fluid paint so much.  I like the process to be fast, free-flowing, and with a lively give-and-take.  (Sort of like love itself, don’t you think?) I also love the bold, sure quality of marks made with India ink and stick pens. Manipulating that nearly impossible to control ink line leaves no room for error. You either have it or you don’t. You lay down the line and then it goes where it wants, unalterable. Whatever mark remains, needs to be worked into the composition. But that bold energy is what gives life to the image and demonstrates the artist’s bravura. It’s a working method that excites me and proves the expression,”It’s not the product but the process in art that is important.”

I must judge the success of my painting sessions by how I feel emotionally when it is over.  Do I leave with the exhilarating feeling,  ‘that was fun’, or with the disappointing feeling ‘that was a waste of my time’.  In my books, art has to be fun, or forget it.

I can hardly wait to get that stick pen in my hand again.

Check out the fabulously inspiring ink and wash drawings of Bill Buchman.

My First Painting of 2012

Untitled                                   33″ x 38″

As I wrestled with where to take this painting, out came the paint rollers, the windex, the white latex primer, and the thick charcoal on a 3 foot long stick.  I began to roll, scratch, spray, apply thin, transparent washes, rub and blot.   The original older painting was covered up.  The only part still somewhat remaining is the cityscape from a photograph I took of Seattle from the ferry.  That’s what started the slippery slope into gestural abstraction with the inherent strong natural fluid character of water based media.  I’m not sure if I’m finished this piece or if I will even grant it the right to exist, but I do know that abstract expressionism is my most natural working process.  I feel so completely engaged when it is all happening at once and running out of control.

The painting at this stage definitely evokes a rainy West Coast day looking north as seen through the windows of our suite in Vancouver.

I would have to evaluate this painting as a success so far because it fits within the criteria I outlined before starting it except it is missing the component of , “poetic text stenciled into image or collaged from another source”.

That probably is the component that will either ruin the piece completely or take it out of the “so what?” category and move it into an evocative and creative piece.   Hm… lots to think about.  What text should it contain?

Something about home, places of belonging?  Vancouver, seagulls, the north shore, the smell of the ocean and rotting seaweed and wet trees? Something about life/yearly cycles, how the winter rainy season creates the lush green spring rain forest. Hey! is that the subject of my next painting? Hey! I’ve been ruminating on creating a series of paintings evoking the four seasons for three decades.  I think I’ve found an inspiring start!