Thursday, 29 April 2010

Loosening Up

Sometimes I can get too tied up in detail and lose the bigger picture.  It can be nice to relax a little and forget about getting averything in exactly the right place.  When I am in a  mood obsessed with detail I find myself counting leaves on trees even though I am sure no-one will ever know how many leaves there were in my souce photo, somehow it puts my mind to rest to get them right.  I sometimes stumble across painting tutorials on satelite tv channels where an 'artist' is showing how to give the impression of bushes and trees with just a few brush strokes, I'm sorry but I detest this style of painting.  The result is something you might find frescoed on the wall of a tacky mediterreanean restaurant, at best.  At worst the result is a clich├ęd and over-stylized image which insults the observer with an assumption that they don't know what a tree really looks like.

On the other hand too much detail can make a painting look amateur if it isn't done well.  I sometimes find myself trying to get all the detail of a window frame in when in reality such detail wouldn't be noticed at such a distance.  This is especially a waste of time if you want the eye to be drawn to some interesting interaction between figures in the mid-distance instead of some wonkey windows in the background where the frames are almost as thick as the panes of glass.

I was getting a bit fed up over agonising over detail in my last few paintings so I decided to have a bit of fun painting over an old one of a raindrop which I didn't  really like.  I've included a photo of the original canvas, as you can see it's loaded with texture.  As it was it was impossible to get any fine detail so I had to focus on the big picture and do a lot of squinting to try to get the overall balance of colours and tones.  The result is that close up it looks a little messy but from a distance it captures the light and reflections.  I almost got sidetracked trying to draw all the lines in the straw mat the glass is sitting on but I realised before it was too late and loosened up a bit.

Another thing I would add as a final point is not to be afraid of using grey in colourful paintings, as you can see I used a lot of grey in the reflections in the glass and it fits perfectly with the brightness of the image.
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