I suppose I’ve had a fairly prolific year when it comes to painting. We’re almost at the end of 2019, and despite having six paintings in various stages of completion, I have managed to produce fifteen finished pieces this year. Six watercolours and nine oil paintings, not including the flurry of smaller watercolour sketches I’ve done here and there.
I have an ever growing list of paintings I would like to do. I haven’t focussed on my art very much since the end of September as I spent most of November back in the UK visiting family and generally been pre-occupied with life since returning. I was however, in the throes of completing three very detailed layout sketches in readiness for watercolour before I went on my travels. Two of which are done, and the third well on its way – although I think I underestimated the work involved in the third piece.
All three of these sketches have certainly challenged my drafting skills, but as many artists will tell you, getting your layout sketch right is important when it comes to any kind of painting, so it pays to be diligent. Why is it important, you might ask? Well, your layout sketch forms the structure of your final composition, and so, in many respects it’s the most important part of the painting. Also, at this preliminary stage you are able to work out what works and what doesn’t, so that if you do need to make corrections or want to change key aspects of the composition you can do so without compromising the work too much. Especially with watercolour where it helps to know what you’re doing before you commit paint to paper. You also give yourself time to plan your colour palette and lighting effects, and more importantly familiarise yourself with the painting itself, so that when you come to applying the paint it is a fairly straightforward process. Even when I’ve done the more spontaneous pieces, I still have in my mind a very clear idea of where I’m going with it, so that when the paintbrush makes contact with the canvas or paper I know the kind of effect I’m going to create, within a fairly reasonable and predictable margin. I also have a smaller sketchpad handy where I can try out colours and effects before I commit to the main painting. At times the test pieces become sketches of their own.
Experience and practise of course make the whole process of producing art much easier. It becomes a process of predictable outcomes, in that you know if you do such and such the result will be what you expect it to be. As obvious as that may sound, it’s surprising how difficult a concept that is to grasp when you’re new to a particular craft or medium. As an artist you are acquiring confidence as much as you are acquiring skill, and developing all important muscle memory which helps in creating consistent marks and strokes. Learning your craft is a continuous process no matter how much experience and knowledge you have. There is always something new to be learned in any creative process, and it’s up to you as the artist how much you wish to push yourself in exploring your skill and your creative vision.
As I mentioned, I have a number of ongoing projects. One of which is my series of portraits of my daughter Grace. The third in the series is shown above, with two more to go. I hadn’t actually decided how many portraits of Grace I would do, but while in the UK Grace herself decided I ought to do five. So, five it’ll be. I have the fourth painting already in my mind, but have yet to decide on a fifth. No pressure…
For now though, this may be my last post of the year. Hopefully by the new year I’ll have another painting or two to show you. Until then, enjoy the festivities in your respective countries and thanks for reading!