Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Worst Thing I Ever Did...

Posted by Rich- Every time I start a new painting or illustration assignment, it always goes through a stage where it looks like it is spinning out of control and I should just start over. I make myself stick to it, and I usually am able to bring it in for a controlled landing, although there are ALWAYS portions of a piece I wish I had done better.
The stages of the painting usually go like this:
Inspiration…Sketching…Transferring sketch …line painting, monochromatic line and under painting…
then self doubt, wondering why I chose this particular subject matter, and trying to convince myself that this painting is worth pursuing despite the fact that it looks like a complete train wreck at this point.

The train wreck stage occurs during the actual application of the color media itself to the surface . This stage usually includes various amounts of sweating, tedium, second guessing, mixing and remixing colors. Until I am about three-quarters of the way to the finished art, each painting I work on has an equal opportunity to win the title of The Worst Painting I Ever Did. All of the paintings in this exhibition looked at one point like absolute disasters in the making while I blocked in colors and worked on value transitions. I continually remind myself, several times, of what I tell my students:
“Everything I paint looks like the worst thing I ever did, halfway


Some of my progress pictures posted here will attest to that.

The watercolors are probably the pieces that give me the willies earliest on—they can really look like a mess during the first stages. Any mistakes on the acrylic paintings can be painted over pretty quickly, but the watercolors require letting the white of the paper illuminate the pigment, so I have to work with a layering process…


Painting of the 7-11 in West Cape May, at the very beginning stage, and halfway through....it was scary.

I think I enjoy the watercolors the most though, despite the willies they give me. Number one reason: they’re fast, and I can stop working on a painting and pick it up a few hours or days later with no remixing of paints. Number two, they are portable; given my busy schedule, I can transport a watercolor with me easily and get a few colors added in between teaching classes or waiting for the train. I just need a bottle of water and a place to sit. I’ve worked on paintings in airport terminals, Burger Kings, mall food courts, and waiting for new tires to be installed on my truck at the garage where I get it serviced. I’ve even done some watercolor work while commuting on the train – you just have to time the bumps and bounces and make sure you work on an area of the painting that doesn’t require exacting detail.

Another Cape May piece; these clouds were great to look at, tough to paint...

Looks like I will be trying to squeeze in some more watercolor work where ever I can this week; It’s Tuesday, and the exhibition needs to have work hanging in place by 11 AM Friday. If I get a seat on the train with enough room, I think I can finish all the pieces by then.

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