Playing back in the Studio

You have a plein air sketch 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?

I chose these two crops from the sketch to work with. They reminded me of landforms near where I made the sketch. I also like the composition and the marks within them.

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 me in a different direction.

When I start to work on these I need to be careful because, if I try to copy the sketch or the crops, things probably won’t go well. It’s very difficult to reproduce a sketch as a studio piece.

What I want to do is use the elements I like within the crops and begin to create new paintings. I began two pieces with collage and two with acrylic paint as the basis for their first layer.

Collage version

Stage 1 – 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. I like those diagonal lines.

Stage 2 – Adding colour and scratching out. I’m not sure about this? It feels disjointed. I still like the diagonals!

Stage 3 – 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 – I adjusted that left hand side patch of light blue, making it white again and then adding some marks. It looks a little better but I’ll wait a while then see what I think. Still wondering about the black piece of collage.

Acrylic Paint version

Stage 1 – Started with playful application of paint and line. It feels free. I don’t mind it so far.

Stage 2 – Something told me to add some paint pen lines and spray with water! Oh dear, what have I done? It’s too busy now and it’s lost the freshness. Looks a bit grubby too. I also turned it upside down.

Stage 3 – Okay, lets wipe off a whole lot of stuff. In an attempt to tame the image down I had rolled white paint over the parts I’ve now wiped away. It didn’t help! (I forgot to take a photo.) Perhaps there are too many drip lines as well? I’ve painted over those already so they might be hard to cover?

Stage 4 – I’ve 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 but I’m not sure if it’s done yet.

I’m not calling any of the four paintings finished at this stage. One is a no show! I’ll review the other three sometime later.

As you can see, one thing grows from another and the result may or may not be something I like. If it ends poorly I’ll console myself with the fact that I’ve enjoyed the process, explored the idea and increased my stockpile of experience. The work and or memories of the experience may surface again at any time to help my art along.

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6 thoughts on “Playing back in the Studio

  1. Hi Wendy – the en plain air selections you made were well chosen. The focus is so bold and vigorous. The work with collage seemed to lose its structure the further is went – the second one perhaps the most successful. Acrylic No 1 was great and No 4 almost sensational but foreground too busy – it competed with the red/orange shape for attention. Am loving your gestures – so spontaneous. Sometimes less is more. Lynne


    1. Thank you for your input Lynne. You know I adjusted that foreground a bit on Friday. It’s not right though. I’d like to hear where/what you thought went wrong in the first one. I’m having trouble deciding when things are finished especially if they look ok really early on in the process. Feels a bit too quick and unsubstantial!? I know less looks good and I like it but creating something so simple seems to feel a bit under done or something. You know my history!!


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