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 clichéd 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.


  1. I love your work. I'll be back to see how you are doing. Keep it up!
    - D Millard

    1. Thanks D Millard, I'm pleased you like the paintings :)

  2. Hi, I really like your work. Keep up the awesome blog!

    -V Look

    1. Thanks V Look,
      I'll certainly try to keep blogging (althought the painting comes easier).

  3. Por favor disculpame por escribirte en castellano pero no domino el ingles lo suficiente como para expresarme con claridad. Las herramientas del google para traducir estan bien cuando contestas a alguien en ebay o para hacer pedidos en amazon pero no para esto.
    Me ha gustado muchisimo esta ultima reflexion sobre la pintura......estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo. Es cierto que me encantan los cuadros de R. Estes pero en el fondo me emocionan mas los trabajos de L. Freud......
    Sin embargo es curioso con el trabajo a lapiz o sanguina prefiero los dibujos con detalle y luz de A. Lopez que los trabajos de D. Hockney......
    ¿por que sera??????
    .......tal vez tenga que educar mejor el ojo????.
    ....sera simplemente una cuestion de preferencia personal?????
    ....o de alguna forma intuimos la dificultad del medio para mostrar algo??
    un trazo a lapiz lo hace cualquiera y hacer el trazo correcto suele ser una cuestion de tiempo y practica.
    Con talento y esfuerzo se puede hacer un buen dibujo a linea al estilo Matisse o E. Schiele.........o no???
    Sin embargo el color y el pincel me parecen otra historia diferente...o no??

    1. Gracias Angel, disculpame por mi castellano, no lo domino muy bien a pesar de mi tiempo en españa. Me encantan tambien los cuadros de Lucien Freud, en algunos dias voy a subir un post con un auto retrato que hice en el estilo de freud. Espero que te guste.


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