Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gettin' organized

One of the myriad of things I need to learn to do in all of simply take a deep breath and relax and enjoy the painting process. Far too often I have found myself sitting at my easel with an underlying smoldering sense of urgency and panic, a little voice telling me that everything I produce must be done quickly, and be a masterpiece, and if it's not, I'm kidding myself and need to chuck the easel right out of the window. Many times I started painting with little more than an idea, and nary a plan, and because of this, produced works that were suitable only for lining the bottom of a bird cage, much to the chagrin of the bird. Self-Doubt and Unreal Expectations can be an insidious little duo of parasites in an artist's mind. I needed to create an internal spray can of Mind Raid to shut said parasites up and kill them dead.

One of the ingredients in that can of Mind Raid was to develop a set of "guidelines" to follow when the urge hit to just sit down at the easel and slap paint on canvas; a way to slow myself down and actually think about what I was doing, rather than just doing it blindly and creating lots of birdcage liners. I don't necessarily follow it to the letter, it is just a set of abridged guidelines, but it has the benefit of giving the left brain something to do while the right brain is having all the fun.

  • Start with what inspires you. You. Not anyone else.
  • Identify the emotion you want to convey about the subject. Is it peaceful? funny? moody?
  • Pick the size and shape of the canvas. Or paper. Or panel. Or whatever substrate that has caught your interest at the moment.
  • Select a value theme. Light, middle, or dark toned? The selected value should occupy more than half of the image.
  • Select a color temperature. Warm or cool?
  • Select a color intensity. Bright or dull.
  • Choose a dominant color.
  • Select a color scheme. Primary. Secondary. Intermediate. Analogous. Complementary. Split complementary. Monochromatic. Complementary with discords.
  • Build a composition. Start with your inspiration, and sketch simple shapes in only three values until you find an arrangement you like. Divide the space into unequal proportions. Create movement with flowing patterns. Look for contrast opportunities.
  • Incorporate good design principles into the composition. Balance. Dominance. Unity. Harmony. Repetition. Rhythm. Gradation. Contrast.
  • Establish a format. "S" format. "L" format. Tunnel format. Triangle format. Pattern format. Asymmetrical balance. Radiating Line. etc., etc.
  • Communicate your inspiration. Choose a dominant focus.
  • Establish the center of interest (focal point).
  • Use design elements to help portray your inspiration. Line, shape, direction, size, texture, value, and color.
Take a good look. What can be exaggerated, eliminated, or enhanced?

My Muse is taking notes. To utility, and beyond.


foobella said...

That first paragraph? Me! To a Tee! Where can I get a can of that Mind Raid?

Saw your painting on Different Strokes and liked it a lot. =)

Lisa Walsh said...

Thanks, foobella! I'm sure if I could develop a Mind Raid formula, lots of artists would use it. Unfortunately, we can be our own worst critic. On the other hand, I've found that in the art community in general, we're very helpful and supportive of each other. Too bad we don't turn that support inward often enough.