I imagine people who visit Muddy Colors are interested in process more than anything else, so this post is for you. Maybe.
I try to spend about 50% of my time on personal work, and 50% on illustration. The personal work went through many cycles of subject matter over the years, but recently my personal work has focused on the landscape. I’ll never really figure it out but once in a while I feel like a little piece of the puzzle reveals itself. I keep going so that I can occasionally find those pieces of the puzzle.
My process: I use a simple and consistent pallate of 13 oil colors plus white. No medium, just Gamsol and some lindseed oil.
I go outside and look for a place to paint. Sometimes I drive or hike for hours to find a place that works for me. In this case, I was standing in a creek in Issaquah Washington. I set up an easel that I can attach to tripod.
I paint of a variety of surfaces, for small paintings (the example is 12×16″) I usually use linen canvas mounted to gatorboard. For larger works in the field, I use stretched linen canvas.
using a brush, I loosley draw an indication of the structure of the composition. In this case, the drawing consists of an attempt to capture the gesture of a tree trunk partially overhanging the stream.
I block in the big shapes using a big brush.
I fuse the shapes together and start to focus on value and edges.
I try to develop the whole painting at once rather than focus on any one part…
As soon as it starts to feel like it might be done, I quit. In many ways, the trick for me is knowing when to stop.
So it’s really kind of simple, right? I do about 3 paintings that fail for every one that feels like it was a success on some level. How often does one seem worth really keeping, or showing to people? I don’t know. I just keep going. the challenge is significant and it’s a hill I am still climbing. Mainly, I just try to keep going.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh