With this painting I have a lot to figure out with regards to a new painting process and adjustments to my paint viscosity. I’m going to post this as incomplete as I feel it may take me a day or so to finish my thoughts.
I adjusted the viscosity of my paint for this painting today and I’m trying out a new painting process, I have a few things to figure out here.
- Why does drawing at the beginning not work well?
- Does hard focus on drawing only at the end of the painting work well?
- Is it better to fill the canvas with paint quickly then adjust, or should I start with the focus and work my way out from there?
- Why lower the viscosity of my paints?
- Is it easier to paint with pigment of lower viscosity?
- Would it be better to adjust viscosity during the painting?
- If it was best to adjust the viscosity during the painting, which medium should I use, and when should viscosity be adjusted?
Why does drawing at the beginning not work well?
I see two main reasons why doing a drawing at the beginning doesn’t work well in the painting. First is that it stifles your freedom. If you worked your butt off on this really amazing drawing you really want to stay inside the lines and not mess it up. So the painting basically turns into color by number. Secondly there is always a tendency to paint up to the line but not over it, again wanting to save the drawing, and the painting looks similar to an illustration with outlines everywhere.
Does hard focus on drawing only at the end of the painting work well?
Honestly I’m not entirely sure of this. I have done two paintings now with the idea of focusing on the drawing at the end, but my focus on the drawing was short lived. I will have to do more paintings where I focus on moving the paint around at the end to get the drawing as close as possible.
Is it better to fill the canvas with paint quickly then adjust, or should I start with the focus and work my way out from there?
It is definitely nice to have the canvas covered by a layer of thin paint that closely resembles your subject. Although I do find it hard to adjust those areas if they are incorrect in value or color. The landscape I did last weekend focused directly on one area and then worked out from there, I found it difficult to resist filling in the rest of the canvas, and because it was a landscape the light changed very fast and I was stuck adjusting the one area for the entire time. I feel like speed would correct that landscape though, and speed just comes with experience and time. I will have to try more paintings where I begin with the focus similar to Richard Schmid and work out from there, all the while thinly blocking in areas next to what I’m working on.
Why lower the viscosity of my paints?
I want to be able to put the paint on thicker, and mix larger batches of color on my palette. Lots of the time I will just run out of a color that I had previously mixed on my palette and then I find it difficult to reproduce that exact color, or it takes more time to mix a whole batch of it again. Also, it would be nice to lay the paint on thicker in areas. I found that with a lower viscosity paint I tend to paint flatter, with less pigment. I will say that laying on the paint in this painting was really nice. Although, I found that adherence was an issue. More than once I was pulling paint back off the canvas rather than putting it on. Again, I will have to use this new painting process more often to figure out if its worth it or not.
Is it easier to paint with pigment of lower viscosity?
Yes it is definitely easier to mix larger batches of paint and also much easier to spread a lower viscosity paint over an area. But, the painting gets a bit “slippery” after the first undercoat, and I find myself pulling paint off rather than putting it on.
Would it be better to adjust viscosity during the painting?
The only time I can think when I would need a viscosity change is at the very beginning of the painting and I need to block in areas quickly with fluid color. Throughout the rest of the painting I would just use paint right out of the tube. Also if my paints are way too stiff like Winton then it would be a paint to have to adjust constantly. So I would say it would be nice to have the option for edge cases, but not throughout the entire painting.
If it was best to adjust the viscosity during the painting, which medium should I use, and when should viscosity be adjusted?
I don’t think its better to adjust during painting, maybe just use a bit of medium, any medium to block in but that is it.
Unquestionably, a flexible response to the demands of subject matter and conditions is better than having a single individualistic style of working, however satisfying that may be to the ego. Fidelity to your perception of a subject is the whole point of working from life. You ought to paint what you see. Real life, whether it’s a landscape, or a person, or still life, presents an incomparable visual banquet, and capturing it faithfully the way you see it can be a stunning experience. To diminish that by subordinating it to a safe and set routine that everyone can recognize as yours makes no sense, and it’s no fun either.
Note to self: do post based on artist Rosemary Frantzen, http://underpaintings.blogspot.com/2012/12/on-view-rose-frantzens-portrait-of.html
Hopefully with answering all the questions above my new painting process will work well.
My hierarchy of painting importance