You have a plein air sketch or an idea you’d like to work with! Now what?
The first thing to do is check what you like or don’t like about it. What do you feel comfortable with? What feels like the place and what doesn’t? Does it rekindle the feelings and emotions of the day? How can you translate those into studio works? Can you crop it to create new compositions? Is there something, anything, you can improve on, that, with the benefit of hindsight, will better create the mood? Or, does it in fact lead you in another direction?
These two crops were chosen from the sketch above. They’re reminiscent of landforms near where the sketch was made. The compositions and the marks within them are also quite pleasing.
Sometimes, sketches lead to work that’s not related to the original work. It might be that you’ve seen something that sparks an idea and it leads you in a different direction.
When beginning this type of thing I need to be careful because, if I try to copy the sketches, things probably won’t go well. It’s hard to reproduce a sketch as a studio piece, difficult to capture the same feeling.
Using the best elements from the crops to begin new paintings is an open way to start. One piece began with collage and the other with acrylic paint.
Stage 1 (below) – A collage layer (well, three pieces of collage at least) with some graphite line work, a bit of spatter and a few splashes of water for good measure. It feels ok at the moment. Nice those diagonal lines.
Stage 2 (below) – Adding colour and scratching out. Not sure about this? It feels disjointed. Still like the diagonals!
Stage 3 (below) – I’ve added blue paint to remove two white areas and it feels much better. Wondering about that dark piece of collage now?
Stage 4 (below) – Adjusted that left hand side patch of light blue, making it white again and added some marks. It looks a little better but I’ll wait a while to see how it feels. Still wondering about the black piece of collage.
Acrylic Paint version
Stage 1 (below) – Started with playful application of paint and line. It feels free. So far so good.
Stage 2 (below) – Something told me to turn it upside down, add some paint pen lines and spray with water! Oh dear? It’s too busy now and it’s lost the freshness. Looks a bit grubby too.
Stage 3 (below) – Okay, lets wipe off a whole lot of stuff. In an attempt to tame the image down I rolled white paint over the parts I’d wiped away. It didn’t help! (Forgot to take a photo.) Perhaps there are too many drip lines as well?
Stage 4 (below) – Applied some paint to the sky with a rag and felt better about it so I played around in the foreground. It feels better now. Not sure if it’s done yet.
Neither painting is finished at this stage. As you can see, one thing grows from another and the result may or may not be something you like. If it ends poorly you console yourself with the fact that it was an enjoyable process exploring the idea and increased your stockpile of experience. The work and or memories of the experience may surface again at any time to help your creativity along.
Subsequently, the finished painting, “Glacial” (below) won a Commended Award at our Art Society of Tasmania Annual exhibition and it sold as well. After the ups and downs of its creation, who would have thought that would happen?!
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