Monday, March 17, 2008

Onions, Peppers and Shallots

This is the piece I started to loosen up.

I bought a beautiful ACEO from Don West, through ebay of three onions and some grapes. Beautiful and loose! To see it, click here for his site and click on the Onions and Grapes. It's beautiful!!!!

With that in mind, I started this but am failing dismally at the loosening up part. But I do like the colours in the onions. I'll work more at it tonight or maybe start another. I need to put in some shadows to ground it - that might be all I add, after finishing the shallots and pepper. I'm going to keep at it until I get it right, though! Maybe.

I'm also going to start working on a batik watercolour, using the real batik method. Sandy Maudlin, Rhonda's art teacher extraordinaire has some on her blog and also posted some instructions on Wet Canvas. I'll follow those instructions and probably ask Rhonda a million questions. LOL. I'm hoping that Ann paints along with me!!! (Hint, hint, Ann.)

PS - read the comments here for some excellent suggestions from Don to loosen up! Thanks Don!


Ann Buckner said...

I'm so glad you posted this painting. I just love what you have done with the subjects. I really think the pepper looks great as it is but you are the artist and know what you are wanting for this painting.

Before I can do a "batik" I have to get some of the rice paper or other kind that will work with it. I'll be tagging along though for the ride. :)

Don West said...

Hi Deborah,
Thanks for the mention :-)
Glad you liked the watercolor! I appreciate your purchase.

I ended up writing a little novel below but hopefully it will help :-)...

Loosening up is hard to do I think because one has to be spontaneous and impulsive while trying to feel confident about it at the same time.

I found the best way to "get it" is to simply get a pile of 5x7 watercolor paper and quickly draw the still life with the color and brush (you can lightly and quickly pencil the large shapes first if need be) waiting for the washes to dry as usual. Use a large flat bristle brush (for oil painting - I know - weird but it works) larger than you're used to with lots of paint and big minimal strokes. Wet into wet, dry brush, wet into dry...all are good...just experiment. Just use that one flat brush. That keeps you from worrying about detail. Turn the brush as needed to get fine edges and curves.

Let colors mix on the paper. Put two or three colors on the brush at once...use the tips and sides for different colors.

For reference, on the little ACEO's I use a 3/8" wide bristle for loose paintings. Specifically, a Princeton 6300F.

Do one painting, put it aside, do another, etc., etc. keeping in mind what you liked. Keep going until you don't have a pile of 5x7 paper anymore. Paint roughly the same thing each time. Change a little here and there if you like to minimize the monotony and work pretty fast.

When you find yourself waiting on the paper to dry, move on to the next one and get it started, maybe trying a different stroke or color mix...leave more white... thicker paint...thinner paint, etc. or start a different part of the painting.

When your pile is gone, Go back to the first and loosely add to it with white gouache for highlights, ink, more paint-thick or thin glazes...whatever impulse you have. Do this for each one you started.

FOLLOW YOUR IMPULSES on each one and don't be concerned with lack of confidence about where the painting is headed. What looks like a mess may well turn out to be great. Ignore your "lack of confidence" feelings. Again, work pretty fast.

You'll learn a lot from this and suddenly, without really realizing it, you'll "get it"...the loose confidence. You'll know that what you are doing is going to work in the end. Ol' lefty brain will sit quietly by until you're done.

Then looseness will become a part of your repertoire which you can rely on as you wish. It becomes part of your natural style, helping you loosen up in general.

Keep in mind,loose paintings are "impressions". The mind and eye of the viewer fills in the details. That is what makes them so interesting and delightful. Watercolor is the only medium well suited to creating this sort of painting quickly. You'll be really glad you investigated the process of loosening up this way. Working fast is a key element. You'll become faster as you go.

Some of the paintings in this exercise will be trash worthy. Expect that and toss them in with no emotion. Maybe all but one or two end up in the trash. Take the one or two and rejoice, study them and mentally note what you did and felt when you created them. Try to remember when the painting actually snapped into a painting from what appeared to be a mess.

Then rest from it for a day or so.

Apply these mental notes next time on a single painting with the intent of making a painting instead of learning. You'll be able to do it! Wahlah!

Loose paintings usually take their sparkle and essence near the end. That makes it hard to keep going because your left brain is telling you that you are making a mess. Ignore ol' lefty. That's important.

Use a palette knife too, to scratch into wet paint. This leaves white behind which can be interesting where applicable.

Have fun and let me know how it goes. :-)

Of course one is always learning and developing with each painting, me included...that makes it fun :-)

Thanks again for your purchase!

Deborah A. Léger said...

Hi Ann,

thanks, as always, for your comments! Glad you'll be here for the ride, lol. Now, where did I put that rice paper???


Deborah A. Léger said...

Hi Don,

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and especially for the extremely helpful suggestions on loosening up! I will definitely, definitely try this. Using the flat brush will be a real stretch for me because I tend to use only rounds (actually, it's always an Escoda Tajmir #10). But I'll do it. And with a flat. A large flat. (You used a 3/8"? I was thinking 1 inch minimum. lol.)

Again, I absolutely love my new aceo that you painted, especially the way your colours mingle to create their magic.

I can't thank you enough for writing these very helpful suggestions on loosening up. I'll post the results!


ps - I tried for your Rome Flower Market but didn't get that one. ;-)

Don West said...

Hi Deborah,
Me again :-)
For 5x7 size paper the 1" would be good.

I use the 3/8" on the little 2.5"x3.5" paintings.

Keep me posted ;-)