Blue And Orange Makes.....

9:09 AM

....mud!!!! And I know this. I know this. I know this. And I did it anyway.

Detail of Vignette Page in
Handbook Watercolor Journal
1.35" x 4.25" 
Actually, blue and orange don't make mud. I made mud because of the way I applied the color. Blue and orange make some gorgeous, textural browns and grays depending on the pigments used. However, if you try to lift after you realize you've made a mistake, expect mud! Or at the very least to overwork it.

You see, this is an image from the Imaginary Visit Through Autumn! that is currently going on and the image above is my "loose" interpretation of it. I started painting this on the vignette page you can see in full on this post. Since the background was already painted, I should have just left well enough alone  and used it as it was. But no. Oh, no, that would have been too easy! No, I decided to put blue back there was in the photo reference!

Have you ever found yourself doing that when you're working from a photo reference? Doing something that you know would look better if you followed your muse's suggestion or just didn't do something but felt compelled to because it was there in the photo reference staring you in the face?! It's almost like an out-of-body experience! You can hear your muse yelling, "Noooooooooooooo!!!" in a small voice far, far away.

And we do it anyway.

That, I think, is the biggest downfall (taboo?) of using photo references—our artistic sensibilities take a back seat. We go on auto pilot. I also think overcoming that downfall is a tough job. For me, it is an ongoing fight to raise my awareness to stay off auto pilot and not assume that the photo reference knows better than me. Ugh!

I often tell the "travelers" on Imaginary Trips, "Make the image yours! You have a photo—make this an artistic representation!!" And yet, we (and I certainly include myself in this statement) are compelled to be good little artistic beings and put in every color, detail and tree that the photo shows us.

As disgusted as I am with myself for how the piece above turned out (because it was soooooo much better before I added that blue into the background and then tried to remove it because I knew it was a mistake before I ever touched the color to the paper!), I will continue to fight the good fight. I will continue to listen to my artistic muse....BTW, Sam, my muse, was woefully disappointed in my choices, and in me, for not listening to her.

I will continue to struggle and NOT forget to make the image mine REGARDLESS of what is in the photo reference! And so, I will be revisiting that image above and I will make it mine! I'm gonna show that photo reference who's boss!

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9 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Yeah! You show that photo reference! (I hope you begged Sam's pardon for not listening to her.)I think interpreting the photo reference, or the actual subject on location, and making it your own expression is a big part of being an artist. I find I have to remind myself that I don't need to copy what I see, but to take what I see and work from there.

  2. Sam's not very.....understanding....when I do something that she's yelling at me not to do. She tends to get a little testy. Rightfully so.

    And I think you've nailed it...expression of what we see and how we see it is what it's all about.

  3. Mud? I don't see any mud! Blue and orange get ugly when over mixed for sure, but what I have learned over the years, is to let them mingle on their own. Beautiful fall painting! I love the long format.

  4. I so get that, Laure--I've done that often, and yes, I'm usually disappointed that I did it afterwords. But you're too hard on yourself--your mud is definitely not as muddy as mine, trust me! Hahaaaa!

  5. It really is hard to not just do what we see in the photo. I find it hard to add the extra colors you try to help us relax and enjoy. But, I think this still looks very nice even if it doesn't stand up to your usual feeling of well done!

  6. Well said, Laure! I heard that voice numerous times in a painting I recently did. The painting ended up working out, but there were still bits and pieces that I knew were there screaming at me saying "you overworked it here" or "I told you this wouldn't look good". Anyways, more and more I try to take a good look at my reference photo first, prior to painting, not for the details (which I've done before) but to get a feel for the values and composition. It is amazing what can happen when we allow our "inner artist" to come out and speak to us through the brush.

    Thanks for a post that really resonates!

  7. Thanks, Jacqueline, I lifted most of it, but then was left with a dull overworked area in the center background.

    Ha! Not sure I want a "mud competition," Sue! Let it suffice to say I don't want to do that AGAIN!

    Thanks, Timaree! It's a challenge.

    Gretchen, thanks for the kind words and for letting me know I'm not in this alone. We live to try again, yes?

  8. I hear you on the photo copying. I too try to do what I see and not what I know colors should be. I think.. if it works in the photo why not on the painting. I love how you are always reminding us of our thinking ability. . .Our muses. I printed out some black and whites of the paintings I am working on to see if they will help me with this.

  9. Actually, Cris, that's an EXCELLENT way to go! I think you'll find you have outstanding results!


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