Friday, September 30, 2011

Wasting Creative Energy

Last week I talked about using 3 mediums to paint the same scene.  I completed two, which I  already posted.  My plans were to take the scene and expand it in a panoramic (10x20) format in oil.  As I did small sketches in my sketchbook to work out the composition, values and clarify my idea I became frustrated.  I'm not sure what the problem is, but I know from past experience that to push this painting until I have a clear vision, is a waste of my time.  The frustration stems from knowing it's not right, but not being able to identify why or what.  Yet.  I need to step away and get some perspective.
Experiment on Yupo paper
Sitting there on my easel was a photo of a friends dog he graciously let me use for a painting.  I knew right when I saw it, I had to paint it!   I put it there as a reminder and I had been looking at her for over a week now.  I quickly switched gears and decided to play with some ideas for the painting of this dog.  Playing is how I like to start a painting anyway.  So I did a few dot to line drawings to find the right angles which I knew were important for the tilt of her head.  I did a fast sketch on some Yupo which I bought to experiment on and see if I liked it.  Disaster!  (a new learning curve I don't have time for right now, but will explore in the future!  Yupo is a synthetic paper with a smooth nonabsorbent surface.)  While I loved some of what happened with the Yupo I lacked the control I wanted.  This "playing" is not a waste of time. In that freedom I saw what happened on the paper while finding colors and strokes I thought would work on a finished piece.  This time I had an idea, a clear vision of what I wanted to say and how to say it.

Gurdy-inquisitive and playful
My earlier frustration told me that this painting  needed to keep that playful spirit and convey what I experienced in the brush work and color on the Yupo.  Most important, I decided to let go, have fun and not worry about the outcome.  The painting that resulted was spontaneous and had the playful character I was looking for. The energy and playfulness was there.

Sometimes it's better to shelve something that is good in favor of something better.  It's not that I can't or won't revisit the idea or that I wouldn't have worked through it and made something happen.  But for me it's better not to waste too much creative energy on something that is frustrating me.  That photo sitting there for a week was begging me to paint it.  Most of my paintings are painted in my head before I ever do a sketch or bring out a brush.  It's part of my process.

I know that we don't always have the luxury of putting a project aside.  But if I do have to push through I often take a break or set off in a different direction while I look for inspiration to finish.  It usually comes, and if it wont the result is never my best work.

Now I will put those pictures of Glacier back up and ponder what, why and how.  If it never comes into focus maybe I will scrap the whole idea and instead use the 10x20 as a vertical for a waterfall!  Who knows what will present itself?  This I know:  I don't have enough time to paint as it is.  Why waste it trying to make something happen when it is repeatedly falling flat.  The next inspiration is just around the corner-or was there all the time! 

1 comment:

  1. Looks just like her Michelle....