I thought it may be interesting and perhaps beneficial to outline my complete painting process.
People often ask what motivated me to become a painter and where do I find my inspiration for the creative process. I think my love of art was always present, with hours spent drawing in my childhood which was abandoned for maths and science later in high school. Sadly, I gave up the only part of school I enjoyed. It wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I began drawing classes which led me to dabbling in paints and borrowing “how to paint” library books. Painting is like a drug; difficult to stop, yet so frustrating I question why I keep coming back for more torture. I cannot believe how many people say to me, “Oh how beautiful, what a relaxing and indulging thing to do.” I just smile.
It is not called “Pain….ting” for nothing!
I love one of Renoir’s quotes, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” Yes, the pain eventually passes, sometimes beauty remains while other times the paint all gets scraped off……….a lot of that lately.
Another quote that resonates with me, “Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained it is no longer art.” The art academics probably wouldn’t agree, as I discovered when studying fine art that there is so much emphasis about the ‘concept’ rather than learning any skills. Why can’t we encourage both? I prefer to create art that directly connects with the viewer, they can make up their own story. Most of my inspiration comes from nature. I will refrain from writing you a 20 page essay.
After sketching a variety of possible compositions for a painting idea, I roughly plan which techniques will suit the image most and quickly cover the canvas with thin washes of paint. I try to cover most of the white, except where I leave some exposed to represent light shining through the final layers.
Once the canvas is mostly covered, I am able to make better decisions about what is working and not working.
I have a basic system of working, however I can paint intuitively as I build up the entire painting as a whole, establishing lights and darks early in the process. Some of the underlying colours start to shine through already and I make adjustments to colours which are too bright or dull.
Once I am happy with the overall development, I begin to use bold impasto brush strokes or palette knife applications to give an impression; not an exact image of the subject or scene.
This is an effective way of adding textural elements to the painting. I may use layers overlapping and then sometimes scratch back into the layers with oil bars, which work like drawing with a crayon.
Many oil painters paint the background first while working with dark tones, then add the lightest highlights at the end. Whereas, I am more unpredictable, sometimes leaving the background until last. However, with oils you do need to remember that you cannot put dark tones over an already dried light layer that is applied thicker than a wash, because it will eventually cause the paint to crack.
Having multiple decisions yet to be made on how to complete a piece, with much angst, I proceed with what will hopefully be the final touches. If all fails, I walk away for awhile so I can gain from a fresh look. I am always surprised when I finally put the paint brushes down and declare, “it’s finished!” I usually leave it for a few days before I sign it, just in case I change my mind…….which is every single time.
Although painting is the most challenging and frustrating thing I have ever done (apart from website design), it is rewarding and I know I will never stop learning…….that is the fun part! Many people give up on painting because it takes so long to learn, but I believe anyone can. They just have to have a desire and be prepared to spend endless years developing their skills and be warned……you will never be completely satisfied. This is where the desire comes into being.