Monday, July 3, 2017

Hobbits and habits

This summer I'm trying to create stronger images by simplifying them. You'd think simplification would be simple...less work...fewer marks...less time. HAH! It's amazing how parts of you will resist the rest of you doing something good for you. Guess that's what makes the rehab industry tick.
 I decided to start with watercolor and try the quartered sheet approach I've seen artist friends benefit from. The idea is, 4 smaller images give you more practice than one large one. It's should force you to create big interesting shapes (like a Notan) because now your regular brush is effectively that BIGGER brush you SHOULD be swinging.
 Theoretically, you should use fewer strokes. Plus, a smaller image provides less fiddle-and-fuss room. Unfortunately, that bad habit works on you like the One Ring in Frodo's pocket.
 FEWER STROKES means MORE DECISIONS about those strokes - and that involves more time and mental effort. As in MORE TIME LOOKING AT THOSE BIG RELATIONSHIPS instead of constantly looking back and forth, spotting little bits of detail here and there and overworking things.
 On the first sheet I drew in the panels and painted over my drawing as usual (Sorry for the arbitrary rotating of the images. Also these are un-spectacular phone pix).

On the second sheet I forced myself to look longer - and hopefully more broadly - by just painting with no preliminary drawing. It didn't help. My problem isn't judging values or color, it's fussing with edges.
The part that was like Frodo slipping on the ring was this: if the initial stroke wasn't satisfying, it was too easy to get in there before the area was dry and try a second or third solution.
 Often that works...but it's never as fresh or wow! as a single hit. Do it routinely and it becomes a dubious method.  I've decided to call it "Smeagling", to remind me not to become a Gollum overstroking his "Precious".


  1. I can see a slight difference in these. Do you think that when you take the time to draw in the composition it gives you more time to think about what you're going to do with the paint? I like the LOTR analogy but I'm going to approach it more like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when he had to pick out the Holy Grail from all of the other chalices.

    1. No, that is, not with watercolor because I tend to dwell on the contour of the form more than it's color issues. If I start with paint then I have to consider the value masses, their chroma and such straight away. More like I do with pastel or oil, I guess. Gonna have to watch the Last Crusade again to see if you're on to something valuable!

  2. Nice to be educated and entertained at the same time. Very nice post.