Saturday, September 22, 2007


Awhile back, I overheard an artist giving advice to a friend who paints. The only part I could hear clearly was, "Paint it, wipe it off, paint it, wipe it off..."

At first, this sounded like a recipe for frustration. But then I remembered when I'd done a face on watercolor canvas and I kept making "improvements." What I had at first was okay, but I wanted it better, so I kept making changes. I came to a point where I had to erase most of it (you can do that on watercolor canvas) and start over. To my surprise, it wasn't really like starting over, because the face had been created in my mind as well as on the canvas. Very few visual cues were left in place, but they were more than enough for me to re-create the whole thing.

Of course, you can't do this on watercolor paper, but if you've ever thought of painting the same scene repetedly, that would have the same effect. Try different styles, different times of day, different weather, different brightness of colors...or maybe just do it the same way. It will sink in to your consciousness and become much easier to do.

1 comment:

lady guerrilla painter said...

It seems that the immortal Sargent was onto this technique. Here's a quote regarding his process while painting a portrait:
"This occupies the first sitting, and should the painting not be satisfactory, the whole is ruthlessly fogged by brushing together, the object being not to allow any parts well done, to interfere with that principle of oneness, or unity of every part; the brushing together engendered an appetite to attack the problem afresh at every sitting, each attempt resulting in a more complete visualization in the mind. The process is repeated until the canvas is completed."