It’s strange I don’t always blog about art here, so I thought I would give it a try, just for a change of pallets.Shall we keep it general, or go specific?
Let’s go with my latest projects, this is taking “so-so” plein air studies and making large paintings from them. 1st off, let me say I am not a pro at this, I saw a blog by Kathleen Dunphy’s about doing just this, and thought to give it a try. It makes so much sense though, I mean there had to have been something there in the first place that caught your eye, then you bring home a less than adequate study? What is up with that? I find that it makes so much sense to take one of those “rejects” and creating a larger working painting, even more so than a plein air study that came out great. Well, maybe… we’ll get back to that.
I’ve always loved painting large paintings. In college my average size was about 36″ x 48″. Okay, it’ s not big for a lot of artists, but for those who paint outdoors that’s kind cumbersome. So coming quickly back to the present before I get too lost in memories, the average size painting I now do plein air is approx. 18×24. My mentor thought this the perfect size for painting studies, and I was totally okay with that. Lately I have begun to paint smaller outdoors, mainly to help generate a little money to buy more paint. Seems that the smaller pieces
have been moving a lot better in these times than the larger paintings. In this instance, I had an 11×14 plein air painting from a paintout with the Missouri Valley Impressionist Society at a place called “Crystal Creek”. A beautiful autumn day along a slow running stream in the woods. I had given a 3 hour workshop earlier that day along the Blue River, and quickly found my way here afterwards to join in while I still could. Many had left already, but I saw that they had still left the beautiful scenes behind them. Great! What I came away with was an okay study, I loved the colors, and the composition, but I thought it left a lot to be desired, and I tossed it onto the shelf. There it sat for months and months. I kept going out painting more, bringing good pieces that needed just a little tweaking into the studio and finishing them up. I would find older studies I really loved and finished some of them up, but an ever-increasing pile of paintings kept nagging at me.
Then I saw Kathleen’s blog and thought what a great idea.
I grabbed one of the 1st ones I came to, set it up next to an easel with a 30×40″ canvas on it, found an old reference photo, and “went to town”! To help keep things loose, after my initial block in, I would set my timer to about 30 minutes (as per Rick) and paint in spurts. Not spending too much time at any one setting so as to “overwork” the painting. I spent a lot of time looking through a mirror at it, getting away and studying it. There were things that I embellished that I swept over in the smaller piece. In enlarging the painting I did not approach it much differently than I do my plein air paintings. I did mix up larger amounts of paint, and used a #12 brush more than my favorite #8, but I did finish it up with the smaller #8. I quickly sketched in a few key lines of the painting, then began blocking in the values, keeping the cools in the cools, and keeping it warm guess where… you got it, where the warms are supposed to be.
I was very tempted to begin going into detail, there is so much you can do with a 30×40″ canvas, so so much!
But I resisted, and I believe I came away with one of my better paintings. What an exciting thing this was to me, it gives so much hope to all those canvases that had some good things about them, just didn’t quite “do it!” Plus now I have a large painting for the corporate buyer, and then a moderately priced piece for the average collector… either way, I hope that’s you.
Now whether an artist, or art lover, go grab some sort of canvas and smile.