Thursday, June 26, 2014

Painting and Ritual

I have been trying to be more "ritualized" when I start a painting. I don't point my brushes in the direction of Mecca or sprinkle the canvas with holy turpentine, but I do try to start with a familiar ritual.  By "ritualized" I mean I try to repeat the same routine every time in the hopes that I will feel more sure-footed before I even get paint on the brush.

Painting in and of itself is challenging enough and I like to start with a clean slate (and remain clean) each time. In this post, I want to share with you some of what I do when I make a painting. 

1. Pack the night before. If I know I'm going to be painting in the field,  I love being over-prepared. There is nothing worse than getting to where you want to work and realizing you've forgotten something essential--like paint (Don't ask me how I know this).
2. Palette Prep. Before leaving the house, I like to get some of the prep work out of the way. Specifically, I like to lay down all the colors in my palette and top up my medium and cleaner so that when I arrive, I'm ready to go! 
3. The 6 P's. In an effort to remember what to bring on a plein air outing, I have tried to boil it down to 6 key items:    

  • Paints
  • Paint Brushes
  • Panels
  • Palette
  • Pod (short for tri-pod)
  • Paper Towels
4. Sketch. Drawing the scene, even in a quick sketch is hugely helpful to the success of a painting for me. It gives me a moment to get to know the subject in very simple terms. It's also a great way to design the composition before I lay it down in paint. I don't always do this, but generally it's better when I do.  
5. Snapping a photo. I like to get a photo of the scene as soon as I get settled. I'm typically drawn to something specific that will most likely change with the tide or the light as I work, and I like to have the reference to work from back in the studio.
6. Visualize the finished painting. I use a variety of methods to do this from using a view-finder or a value-finder, to sketches, and even cropping photos on my iPhone.

Question: I'd love to hear what do you do before you get started on a painting? You can leave a comment in the box below.


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