The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Importance of Quick Studies

I'm reading Craig Nelson's 60 minutes to Better Painting and I think he may have written it specifically for me. This is how it starts:
"Painting is sheer joy when it goes right and a great frustration when it doesn't. It is impossible to be a genius every time you set up to paint."
And later in the introduction, I would swear he's been spying on me:
"A common problem that is constantly encountered is the lack of time to paint. Each painting becomes precious and must continually be better than the last, or so one thinks. This can burden the artist to overanalyze and overwork a piece."
Ok, so he hasn't been spying on me -- he's been reading my mind!

Nelson advocates quick studies to help eliminate this overanalyzing tendency, and add to your brush mileage. Quick studies of 20 to 60 minutes help bring your painting skills to a more intuitive level. (Practice, the way athletes or musicians practice.) In summary, he says that quick studies will help you:
  1. Break inhibitions (get over that fear of the lost masterpiece)
  2. Be less fearful of mistakes (practice, practice, practice)
  3. Learn the difference between line and mass (we learn to draw in line but see in mass and should paint that way)
  4. Learn brushwork (and when to use which kind in specific situations)
  5. Learn how to see, or how to take what you see and put it on the canvas
  6. Learn how to get started (lose that fear of the white canvas)
  7. Learn and explore different themes, subject matter, etc.
So how can I apply this to landscape painting? I can make a resolution to do more quick studies and worry less about finished paintings. Resolved!  Stay tuned.

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