Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Good Things Come in Small Paintings

"Pink in the Park" 6x6 oil study
Sold-thank you!
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. 
Art is knowing which ones to keep. 
Scott Adams

There's so much to paint in the summer it's almost overwhelming. Painting smaller studies (like these 6x6 squares) remind me why “almost daily” painting can be so rewarding. Finding the time to paint every single day might just not be realistic in your world right now. But if you want to grow your artistic vision and skills, I think it’s extremely helpful to paint MORE than you are now.  Whatever that may be for you. 

I promise you’ll find this extra time at the easel beneficial in the long run. Here are three key reasons I think “almost daily” painting is a great goal for any artist who wants to improve:
"Redbud Rester" 6x6 oil study

I love the creative process but the reality is you’re not always going to have a stellar painting day.  In fact, you may have a disappointing painting day when you least expect it.

This can really catch you off guard.  But when this happens to me I have some sense of comfort and hope that a more successful painting may be just be around the corner--rather than weeks or months away.

Also, many artists at one time or another are challenged either by time or budget or both. Small-ish (under 8x10 let's say) paintings are not typically a significant time or monetary investment.  This doesn’t mean you have to use cheap materials for daily painting. On the contrary I prefer linen panels (Raymar), professional paints, decent brushes, etc.  I feel like I can "splurge" because I'm not using so many supplies at once. Plus, if you paint a "keeper" you'll be happy you used nicer materials.

With regard to time, it may take a few tries, but I find I can paint a 6x6 in under 120 minutes give or take. Check out Craig Nelson's excellent book: 60 minutes to Better Painting for more ideas regarding quick studies.

If you enjoy painting on a larger scale, smaller studies are also a wonderful way to “brainstorm” and have fun with paint. For example, in my light and shadow rose study today I tried some some "looser" dragged edges which I thought worked pretty well. Thanks DPW for featuring my little rose on the DPW Facebook page!

In the sparrow study, I tried a strong orange toned canvas to help give a sense of the warm August sunshine. Some of the orange bits work and some I'm not as crazy about. Still worth the test. 

I often compare painting to puzzle solving.  Painting more often allows to test a variety of solutions before you commit to a bigger canvas. For example, you could try different color strategies, take a new color for a test run, change your value key, experiment with your brushwork etc.  It’s also fun to do quick small abstracts and then scale them up--particularly small squares because they scale so easily. Happy summer painting everyone!

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