Thursday, January 31, 2013

Intermediate Watercolor 1/31/13 Follow Through

You've probably noticed that I consistently emphasize the importance of process over product; "It's more important to be painting than to have paintings", "The piece of paper you're working on now is not a painting", "To succeed, you have to be willing to fail ".

You might get a little tired of this.
"What are we doing all this painting for", you may ask, "if not to to make paintings?"

Well, there is a place where process and product come together. Your painting practice, that is, the focus and determination you bring to your painting time, leads directly to refinement of your efforts.  If you keep at it, you can count on improvement. Better paintings, in other words.

So, why does the first attempt so often seem to be the best of the bunch? Because determination without focus is just repetition. Every time you start another version, have a clear idea of what you are doing differently, and limit the experimentation to one thing at a time.

For example, In the image below, the first layer of the trees is a single, overall green wash. Despite the lively pattern of second and third layer marks, the whole area seems flat and lackluster. I could try adding more shadows and trunks, which would not require a new piece of paper, but I think there are enough strokes. I'll go down the list:
Color; well, that shape is all one color. What if I had varied the color of the wash when I first applied it?
This is a very promising idea. Maybe I could even glaze this version...
This is enough to take on for the next step. It may not solve all the problems there are on this piece of paper, but it will help me realize my true goal...

Please write down your thoughts. What remains uncertain? Which single thing will you now try to resolve? How? What were the results?
Imagine if you kept a diary of the refinement of every image? Not that I expect anyone to actually do this, I never have, but it would probably help get the learning to stick. And wouldn't it be grand if Sargent and Zorn and George Post had left their diaries behind for us?

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