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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Techniques for Quick Studies

I'm continuing to read Nelson's 60 Minutes to Better Painting. In it, he offers some specific techniques to completing quick studies, so you don't try to make everything a finished painting.
  1. Do a quick sketch on your canvas (about 5 minutes), then paint in the basic shapes.
  2. Use the two-value statement technique. Create a light value and a dark value of every color, and use only those two values. Then add details as your time limit allows.
  3. Block-in technique. Don't sketch, just block in the various color masses, then refine as your time limit allows.
  4. Use brush strokes to define masses (he calls them control strokes).
All of these techniques will help me in something I know I have problems with -- editing out the unnecessary details. It's funny, but in my professional life, my mantra is "simplify" and get rid of unnecessary detail. Now if only I can learn to do that with paintings! I have a problem with trying to paint every leaf on a tree, when I know I need to paint masses of leaves. Doing quick studies will, I hope, help me learn to leave out the superfluous details and decide on what is important.

Another technique I'd like to add is one to help with the "limited time to paint" factor. Or maybe I should call this the "limited time to paint for cheapskates" factor. To prepare for creating quick studies, I am doing two things, both of which will likely be frowned upon (but that's ok, they're studies!):
  1. Premixing some basic colors and storing them in a pill box. I think I'll target two or three greens, which I can modify quickly depending on the subject matter. 
  2. Here's the cheapskate part -- Instead of preparing canvas, I'm gessoing some watercolor paper and painting my studies on that.

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