Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lessons Learned On Location

Brandon Parkway
Watercolor and Carbon Black Ink
8.25 x 3.5 inches
Another title for this post could easily be "What Makes a Painting Successful?"

What makes a painting successful is sometimes (usually?) beyond the obvious. Most of us consider a "pretty picture" to be a successful page, but what about all those "all most, not quite" practice pages we do? Do they count?

I consider the page above a success, and you may be thinking "she's losing it if she thinks that's a successful painting." And that's okay. Because you can't "see" my goals for this piece.

I am NOT a landscape painter, but I have hopes of one day mastering this genre. When I left the house this morning to go out and sketch, I had a TOTALLY different image in my head. One that was loose and charming with just the right touch of detail.

And then I arrived on location and got busy.

And.....failed. On the first goal anyway. This sketch is not loose nor charming. It is an improvement over this image (third shot down) of a lake not too far away. This image is not as overworked and muddy. I actually managed to leave a couple of areas alone rather than "fix" them.

The things I learned are:

  • Next time, take the stool. Even if I don't think I'll need it, I will. I have no problem sitting on the ground. I do, however, dislike ants. Ants crawling on me. Ants biting. Enough said. 
  • I wore a hat to help shade my eyes from the bright sunshine. So why then did I take a shiny, chrome document clip to hold the pages of my sketchbook open? I will be swapping that out for flat black. Unless I need to use the shiny clip for mirror signaling. I could get lost, you know!
  • It's best to take the tissue out of the package before I need it.
  • Use of black ink helped this sketch tremendously. In fact, it wouldn't have made prime time without the ink. 
  • I have recently started wearing a white sweat band on my wrist to wipe my paint on when I'm on location. It makes life a little easier. I don't have to hang on to the paper towel. Unless I happen not to have my wrist band and decide to use my wrist anyway. (It must have looked pretty bad because the guy at the deli told me where the ladies room was—without me asking!)
  • If it's working, leave it alone. There wasn't a cloud in the sky today, but since the sky kinda worked in this, I decided to leave well enough alone. Oh, and there wasn't a hill either. 
Goals for next time...no shiny clips, a wrist band, loose and charming, more variation in the greens and no mud...

Piece a' cake!

11 comments:

  1. I always get a chuckle or two when I come visit your here. And today was no different. I loved that the deli guy told you where the restroom was before asking. You must have really been into that painting. Which by the way is charming with a hill.

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  2. Laure I enjoyed reading through your tips. The tissue on the ready jumps out at me, and what a great idea using the sweat band on your wrist for cleaning up your brushes. Your project certainly portrays the scene; lovely colourings and enjoy the trees.

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  3. I love your sense of humor, Laure. The way you write makes me feel like I am right by your side, swatting ants and squinting as the sun reflects into my eyes.

    You have a talent for writing as well as painting, for sure!

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  4. Thanks, Cris! I do tend to get into my painting. Besides that, (new) old habits die hard!

    Yes, Carole, get the tissue out FIRST. Don't be a Laure and fumble and fuss and then lose the moment when you could have saved the painting!

    Oma, I wish you had been there! We would of had a ball! Of course, you probably would have been smart enough to bring your stool! Thank you for the kind words as well. They mean the world to me.

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  5. I just learned that hat routine myself! Don't like ants either. I like your wristband idea but I think I'd tuck some folded paper towels in it - I seem to do a lot of brush wiping and am not sure the wristband would be enough but while I was out without my hat I too found it hard to hang onto my towels.

    I like your picture. Not too loose but it's not too tight either. Nice inkwork. It livens without taking over. Frankly that is the sort of picture I've been thinking of doing minus the water as I want to depict the California hills and oak trees that were green when I went to California April 1st and were almost all turning yellowish brown when I left the other day.

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  6. ...what a great idea using a sweat band. I was painting at my son's tennis match and a big wind blew up and took the paper towel for a ride...onto the court!! :-) I'm going to steal one of Rick's sweat bands.

    ...and I love the happy painting. It makes me think of the british countryside. I can totally see it wrapped around a coffee mug too!

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  7. Thanks for the smile, Laure! Brave girl without a stool. I like Kate Johnson's idea of an old sock band cut off to use on your wrist, too. Make sure it's your husbands, though. I tried one of mine and it cut off the circulation to my hand! Oh.... make sure to take it off before you leave your painting site :) I've gotten some pretty funny looks...

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  8. Well, I thought it was a successful painting BEFORE I read what your goals were. I would be thrilled if I'd painted this. OK, so it isn't loose, but I like it anyway. The stool is a good idea - I may need to look for one. I like the ink - I think that often improves a sketch (at least, it often improves MY sketches ;-)!).

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  9. You're so refreshing! It's nice to know that someone so accomplished at watercolor has trouble now and then. And that you share your woes with us is all the better! I like your landscape and I especially like the idea of the sweatband on your wrist.

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  10. Ha ha well said for goals at the start of the day!

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  11. You funny girl. You must remember the wrist band. tee hee... I like this landscape. Yes, I should get busy.

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