Students often struggle to understand what their painting is about.
This understanding is key because it's all wrapped up in your story and what you want to say. It follows that students often feel they have little of import to say therefore this is irrelevant to them.
Your story is important because it will help you design a work that you are passionate about and will help you to focus on the important elements that attracted you in the first place. Thereby helping you avoid over-stating support and background elements.
What am I most interested in?
your painting (story, poem, sculpture, composition, drawing etc) must have a purpose and, yes, the purpose can be learning but more than this – why paint it? What is it about? What drew you (pardon the pun) to want to paint it? Without your want, your passion to paint it, there’s no story, there’s no purpose. Might as well put your best foot forward and crack it!
We’ve talked about this before, sometimes it comes down to making yourself want to paint “it”. Do your research, study your subject, create design thumbnails etc (this research and study also has another purpose for discussion later). Design your painting, what can you use to create a painting with strong design?
So what made you want to paint this?
Was it a fleeting light?
Shapes interlocking and overlapping that piqued your interest?
Unusual colours juxtaposed?
A strong light/dark contrast?
People involved in some interesting activity?
An idea – what if I put this with that?
Whatever it was that intrigued you is your story. It’s really only necessary to explain it to yourself, to keep you on track, write it down. So then your painting becomes a concept about how to tell this story and the visual language you’ll need to tell it.
For example, let’s talk about a stiped canopy.
I might want a strong light and use the stripes and shadows to help me describe the shape of the canopy. There’s probably a door or a window under the canopy, this could be used for a strong value contrast – lightest light against the darkest dark. There might be a group of people nearby, can you link them to the canopy/doorway? Is it a shop, they’re going to walk through the door? People walking out with shopping bags filled with goodies. My focus must stay on the canopy and elements that help me describe the scene and the story of the canopy, maybe it's blowing around in the wind. Exaggerate anything that leads to the focal area, minimise supporting gorgeousness.
What's your why?
ciao bei pittori xx
edited from original post 011214 WP
The superbly cool thing about watercolour is, once you've done all your research and preparatory drawings, design etc and you're hitting paper with water ... it's all on ... right now!!
The difficult thing about watercolour is that once you're hitting the paper with water, it's all on ... very scary ... right now!!
ooohhh ... what to do?
here are 7 things i'm thinking while i'm painting ...
Watercolour painting demands your complete attention, keep focussed while you are painting and stay in the zone.
edited from my original post 070115
It’s really hard to create a painting about a subject I have no interest in, having said that, I can make myself want to paint a particular subject simply by working through a research process and getting to know and appreciate the subject.
Imagine what it would be like for me to be told Country & Western theme ... ?**$#@!!**^??
Guess what? You can get fired up about any subject too!!
While I was still working in the corporate world but dabbling in watercolour painting, I was thrilled that my tutor would supply the subject matter. It meant one less thing for me to worry about, all I had to do was turn up every week and she'd have an amazing array of cool stuff she had pulled together for us. Barbara was a tremendous creative facilitator.
Another upside to this was that I learned to accept what was in front me, whether I liked it or not, this was no time to be fussing and complaining, I had 3 hours of painting time in front me, better get to it quick!
In writing this post I realise too, part of my inspiration for a subject came from our group discussion about the subject and everyone's ideas. Some of my best painting experiences have been painting in a group.
The more research I do about a particular subject the more passionate and determined I become to paint it. I fall in love with the subject ... it could be something as simple (?) as a brick wall or the way the light falls on a glass and the shapes and colours it creates. The intricacies of a subject become fascinating, although I don’t paint a lot of detail (this must have been written a while back!), I go through a process of studying the detail and deciding what I will leave out, what to include and which details describe my message best for that piece of art.
Typically my research might include a small sketch or two on site as well as a bigger more formed sketch I call a plein air painting. When I’m in my studio, if I’m painting from my imagination, I create lots of doodles and lots of composition thumbnails. I’m reluctant to paint scenes from a photo preferring to paint en plein air, not always possible and although I’m wary, I’m very happy with a lot of them.
For me, there is a driving force to create and always has been. Among other creative endeavours, I’ve always drawn and painted. It seems stronger now than ever and I think this may be, in part, because I work as a professional artist creating and painting most days - total immersion is good!
My brain is more switched on to looking for subject matter and planning my next work – everywhere I see a painting waiting to be painted. The more I look for subjects the sooner they appear - the more I paint the more ideas I get.
PaintBox Tips, secrets, random thoughts,
Poetry in watercolour is made in the freedom of the here and now. Amanda Brett
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working - Pablo Picasso
There are no mistakes in watercolour, just some extra surprises!!
What my readers and viewers have to say
Your emails are so informative! I must confess I've watched a couple of your demos from beginning to end, and it makes me want to watercolor!!! I've only ever painted with oil or acrylics and haven't know how to begin with WC. Your content is excellent!
Thank you for your tips. They inspired me to practise and I realised I haven’t been loading the brush properly. I learnt about adding more paint, and not water, to washes. In today’s tips I like the idea of painting with purpose. Your tips are very helpful. I very much appreciate receiving them. Elizabeth
Hi Amanda I enjoyed your post and generous tips. Looked up Dan Burt I begin to see that you can colour any subject to give it pizazz so long as the tone and form is correct Certainly adding value now to my attempts Thanks heaps Annie
Yes very wise words. Agree with not fussing and agree with comments about good quality paint. Well written and inspirational as always. Cheers Janet xxxx
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