Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A little progress on current painting

Well, I've close to a quarter of the canvas covered now :D The trouble is that every time I sit down to paint I'm spending a lot of time going back and making small adjustments to areas that have dried. When people say that paintings look like a photo they don't realize that rarely does the painting look like the actual photo(s) used for reference. Since paints do not have the infinitesimal variances that nature's color spectrum has, they cannot begin to come close to the actual colors. Not only does a painter need to approximate those shades, they have to make them work as a painting, and paintings have different rules than nature. A photo also cannot truly capture the colors correctly and photos tend to take darker areas and turn them into black holes and also wash out bright colors. So really, painting from a photo reference is like a fine tuned dance where you have to anticipate your partner's every move or fall flat on your face. :D Painting is completely an illusion. How else do you make something three dimensional work on a two dimensional plane? Luckily, like magicians, painters have their own bag of tricks. There are techniques to make certain areas come closer or further; warms advance, cools recede, perspective and size relationships also come into play. The focal area needs less detailed areas around it so it will stand out. Certain colors next to each other will make one jump forward. Painting a large scene is a lot harder than doing a single subject, the figure on the Harley is only 7 by 3 1/2 inches and it's too detailed and small to be able use large brushes and sweeping strokes. Even though I've pretty much abstracted the engine, each stroke counts and one stroke at the wrong angle or value ruins the whole effect. This is also an overcast day painting, when there is strong light it's easy to use shadows and sharp light contrast to define areas. Here the differences in values are sometimes just a slight, subtle shift. Value is really much more important than color to making a painting work. After I have finished each session I have to stand way back from the painting and see how it all works together, and then fine tune the painting so it's cohesive overall. That involves a dab here, step back, another dab there, step back again, more dabs, until finally you step back and it all makes sense together. I enjoy a challenge, and I learn from each painting I do, but it sure would be nice if one day I've painted it all and therefore instinctively know exactly what tone and what color will work the first try, no matter what the subject. I think the pigs are scheduled for flying maneuvers that day too :D

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