Hello my friends!
Have you ever found yourself staring at a project that required consistency in showing up, only to realize that it was left in the dust and life has kept moving forward? Well, I admit it happens often in my life. I juggle a lot. Sometimes things get dropped. Like this newsletter.
However, I like to think about the phrase our old neighbor would say to his great-grandson and Naomi when they were tiny things. “Get up, dust yourself off, and try it again.” So, I am trying again with this newsletter…
Today, I want to share what I do when a painting needs attention, and I feel I have fallen off the wagon of creative habit.
These are the steps I take when I return to the painting after a long break.
1. I take the painting out of the studio and bring it into another room. This gives me a new chance to see it with new eyes. This is critical, and must happen because I believe you develop “studio eyes” that autocorrect your painting for you when you view it in your studio :-)
2. I analyze the painting and ask myself this question:
Why did I stop working on this painting?
Typically, I have two types of answers. The first is Naomi or I got sick, which required all of my attention outside of the studio and I just lost momentum on the painting. The second typical answer is, I lost steam when I am countered a painting challenge that was not easily solved.
3. Depending on the type of answer I got from my question “why I stopped working on this painting?” I do one of two things to get “back on the wagon.” So to speak. If my answer was that life just got in the way, I schedule a full studio day to dive back into the painting. This is a day dedicated only to this painting and it helps me get reacquainted with it, which then helps me regain my excitement and eagerness to complete the creative idea that inspired the painting. After this studio day, I typically get the enthusiasm back I had with the painting originally and I find my flow again and get the painting completed.
If instead, I am facing a painting challenge that caused the momentum loss, I spend a few more days with the painting in a room other than my studio and I analyze the composition.
Here is my checklist of questions to ask myself when I am stuck:
I gleaned this checklist from reading “Composition of Outdoor Painting” by Edgar Payne. It is one of my favorite books on composition. What I like so much about this book is that even though it is dedicated to plein air painting, all of the concepts can also be applied to portraiture and still-life paintings.
- Is there balance between large masses and details within a compositional arrangement of objects?
- Within the drawing, is there a balance of straight, vertical, horizontal, and curved lines?
- Are the objects rendered effectively?
- Is there a visually interesting contrast of color complements and harmonious color analogies?
- Is there an unequal measure of light and shade areas that are essential for artistic balance? The areas of light and shade must not be equal, so if the areas are equal, how can I adjust the proportions?