Saturday, July 30, 2011
Original oil painting 18x24"
by Susan Roux
After dozens of suggestions from Don to buy Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw, I finally own a copy. I haven't posted for awhile because I've been toiling over this painting. Do you ever do that? Toil? I have grunts and groans, huffs and puffs of exasperation that pour uncontrollably from my body. I throw my brush down, take a few steps, turn to look at my work through a mirror, exhale deeply with thrust and return to do another stroke. The level of concentration is so great that each stroke seems a massive effort. In the beginning of Nicolaides book, I read a new word to describe this. Painstakingly.
It describes my efforts to a T. It's miles away from having "fun" on canvas. It's deep and concentrated and a place I don't always get to while painting. It renders with precision and every now and then, I find it necessary for what I'm trying to achieve. In this particular case his sweatshirt became the challenge. I wanted it to read oversized. My fear was making him just look fat.
The secret was in the folds. Nail the folds and it will look correct. So I spent hours and hours and days and days on those folds. Long days.
I was pretty content with the results. I know these images are inferior as usual and some of the values and transitions are incorrect. But still, I feel I captured so much extra space in his sweatshirt that you could almost crawl right into it with him. Painstakingly. Yeah, good word.
Nicolaides had another word to describe a painting method. Ferociously.
Now doesn't that conjure up a great image for you? He ferociously put paint to canvas. The release expressed in that sentence is massive. It reminds me of my initial block in. Some parts go on slower, but I definitely have moments of ferocious strokes. Spontaneity and determined force are things I associate with that. I often call it scribbling with paint. My backgrounds certainly fall into that category. This is where I'm in fear of having too much fun on canvas. Sometimes it's tempting to call a painting finished after ferociously blocking it in. It's full of freshness and personal emotion. It's easy to feel connected to it, but rarely my best work.
The biggest challenge I had with this painting was trying to keep enough spontaneous looking strokes to achieve movement. The tightness of the folds made this difficult. I found myself softening them a bit in the end. I felt I had to overcompensate by making my loose strokes extra loose, otherwise it all looked too stiff.
There lies a balance in there somewhere. I know I have a lot to learn before perfecting it. Maybe it never gets perfected. A juggling of the right amount of painstakingly and ferociously applied strokes. The yin and yang of art. Balance. Rhythm. A poetry of color...
The journey continues.