Monday, May 19, 2014

Can Studies Help You Create Better Paintings?

First One In, Pastel Study 7x5" - Purchase at Etsy

What is the first thing you do when in the Studio?

I look at my plein air paintings ... or flip through photographs I have printed, or look at images on my digital photo screen. What am I looking for? Can you guess?

For me, I want to have something grab me right away... so I make notes about what I like. I think we paint a better painting if we are "inspired" by something we see. So, write it down ... "what drew me to the scene?" Answer the question.... refer to it during the painting ... it keeps you thinking what needs to be the star of the piece, and everything else needs to play a secondary role. All the other elements should support the "star!"

What is next?

For me, I lightly draw with a pencil on the surface ... just a rode map ... no details. I want general larger shapes of the light and dark areas in the painting. I squint a lot, looking for those shapes.

Next, I fill those shapes with a light layer of pastel... no matter if doing a pastel painting or an oil or acrylic. It is just pigment... and then I wet it with either mineral spirits if doing an oil, or alcohol if doing a pastel or acrylic. Lately, I have been using a little water spritz bottle for the alcohol instead of brushing it on. I can still use the brush while it is wet if I want to create a scrubby looking underpainting.

Here is the image of the first layer of pastel for the underpainting for the above little study! I was working on a grey Ampersand Pastelbord for this one.

So ... was this successful? Is it a good study for a potentially larger oil or acrylic ... or even a larger pastel?

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