Sunday, November 17, 2013

paint what you know

So the at home “formal” teaching program continues. I am studying anatomy for artists and drawing. I am also painting. This was not part of my formal program. I snuck it in. However one of the things I read said “paint what you know.” This struck me as pretty good advice because they say the same thing for writers: “write what you know.” So I wondered what do I know well enough to paint? So I painted the contents of part of my Sunday dinner sitting by my kettle. It doesn’t come any more familiar than that.
Since the still life of the chair I’ve wanted to do another. I’m happy with the chair because I like the shading on it and I learned about glazes, but as an artwork it is very stiff and bland. I like it because of what it taught me and not so much for the final product.

The vegetables are a slightly different matter. I did not really plan this painting. I wanted something to do, thought it would be good practice, quickly put the composition together and went at it. I used an old canvas board with an artwork I did years ago.The results are a pleasant surprise.

One trick I did learn and will continue to do is squint. While taking photos for reference take some time to squint. Look at the composition and figure out what features to take away from it and transmit to canvas. Squinting helps to dismiss all the fiddly details and focus on the subject. The dominant colours become clear. The quiet mood I found by squinting has been transmitted somewhat.At least I think so. I knew what I wanted to capture on canvas. I did not have that with the chair painting and it shows. Mentally I did, but my eyes did not see it except for the shadow.I'm proud of that shadow.

The kettle and vegetable painting took most of my free time this past week. Today I’ll give the place I live a good cleaning and then back to my “formal” training yet again. Curious about how the things I learn will affect the next painting. Will I always paint what I know? Probably not, but at this stage of my learning curve I'm find it good advice.

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