Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Daily Discipline

Recently, I picked up Painting More Than Eye Can See by Robert Wade. I purchased it for two reasons. One, I really like the pictures in it - I love this painter's style. Two, the cover...he took an ordinary photo and turned it into a fabulous painting. I have loads of ordinary photos, I'd love to know how to get more out of them. I am very interested in creating more than a photo can show. I'd like to make my paintings express more than just reality, I'd like them to express reality as I see it.

One of the exercises that he encourages is painting daily...but not in the way you'd think. He suggests doing a 7 or 8 minute (4x6 in) "postcard painting." The idea is to just get used to watercolors, how they are applied, how they blend, etc. It occurred to me that I could take this idea and make it my own...

My New Daily Discipline Idea
  • spend 5-10 minutes a day doing an ink and brush painting (although Vivien Blackburn posted today about sketching in oils, so that may happen too)
  • perhaps use a small format, although for this one I only had 9in x 12in paper available.
  • do the painting from a thumbnail image of one of my photos. I am gradually building a library of my own photos, so all I have to do is open a directory, pick a thumbnail and paint from it. The idea is that the image is too small for me to really know the details, this should force me to just concentrate on values, patterns, and suggesting rather than truly delineating everything. (In short, force myself to be a bit more painterly!)
  • Above is my first effort, it was really fun to have only a few minutes and just whip out the inks, splash around, and throw them back and be done. The photo was taken on vacation this year, a view of the dry creek bed, trees (which are sadly dying and not really green), and distant mountains in Forest Falls, CA.

The book is all about the artist being the "director" and manipulating elements as she sees fit. He calls this idea "visioneering." Essentially, having a vision in your mind of what you want the painting to be...the mood it expresses, the perspective you want to give on a place, etc. He stresses using the fundamentals to accomplish this...reflected light, values, atmosphere, figure placement, etc.

Again, this wasn't anything particularly new, but he wrote with such confidence about manipulating basic elements to achieve what you want...well, it just makes me want to have a go with some ordinary photos.

Wade also offers the following encouragement "whatever I have achieved I've done by working my fingers to the bone. I've practiced until my eyes were so sore I couldn't see straight. I've driven myself to keep on going when I could cheerfully have dropped with exhaustion at some weird hour of the morning." (Wade, p.100)

I've never been one to stay up until the wee hours, but that statement does give me hope that with hard work, I will persevere.


Katherine Tyrrell said...

I've got that book and it's a really good one at getting you to see how you can be more creative with reference materials and sources.

Good exercise - I'll be tuning in to see how you're getting on!

How about taking a large sheet of heavyweight watercolour paper and then chopping it down to the right size?

Stacy said...

Now this is the kind of daily painting I could commit to. I like the idea and will have to give it a try. I'll also be watching to see how it works for you. :)

Rose Welty said...

Thanks Katherine and Stacy...having an audience always helps in the discipline department. Although, seriously, this is really fun. You can learn alot in just a few minutes...and it only takes a few minutes, so you can get that "I've done some art today" feeling really easily!

vivien said...

yes, do try sketching in oils - it's fast and you can push the painting about, being quite free :>)