Thursday, January 17, 2008

Never Rush!!!

That's what they keep telling us, in so many words. Take the time to think; plan; consider your next step; take breaks; put the painting aside for a while and come back to it - but never rush. Ever.]

Today I did.

Actually, I was rushed, as the workshop ends tomorrow, and the instructor emphasized it's important that we bring the painting to a finished stage. Don't ask me why, and I did ask him why we cannot put it aside so we can have time to decide what should be the final touches. He said he'd rather have us finish it, and - since didn't want to be a troublemaker, I went for the last stage: using acrylics for covering some areas.

"Acrylics in watercolor?",
I hear the gasp of some watercolor puritans.


When worked into the paper straight from the tube with very even brush strokes, acrylic paint dries flat and dull, emphasizing the transparency and luminosity of watercolors and making them sing and show off all their stunning attributes.

I followed instructions, obeyed the orders (although my poor neighbors got real tired of the complaints galore I chanted the whole time...) and applied acrylics in some areas of the painting. I just couldn't let it be all boring and flat, though (sorry - not my painting style), and as you can see in the bottom right corner, I managed to have some fun strokes with it. Still - rushing it was not wise, and after fulfilling my civil duty to try and bring it to a finished stage, I stopped in time, before I totally screw it up. It really does make the watercolor areas shine! I'll probably come back to this painting in the future - pending the verdict of our critique group (they will be utterly shocked to see me bringing a non-objective painting!).

And then, my dear readers, THEN I finally got to the part of the workshop that I've been waiting for: doing our own thing, and apply what we've learned to our own style.

I browsed through several photos yesterday, trying to decide which one to do, but I knew that once the instructor lets go of the leash, I'll probably cheerfully gallop back to my comfort zone: no white, neutral colors and very close values all over. But I wanted to kick myself out of my comfort zone (otherwise, what was the point of struggling for these last days!?).

What would make me actually try and incorporate what I've learned in this workshop?

This morning, I had the revelation in the shower, the modern times Eureka! As I told you, I kept taking photos of John Salminen, the instructor of the workshop. He has a great expressive face, wonderful hair, beard - what more can you ask for? (OK, I would ask for a hat, but I'm not pushing it). So - if I do a portrait of him, it will kinda inspire (even force!) me to use his ideas, as the subject sometimes dictates the style. Just like I could not do FergieJ in neutral colors.

Now - painting someone's portrait is always intimidating. Doing it when the someone is an esteemed workshop instructor, during the workshop itself, while he is walking around and critiquing the work, and all the participants keep coming to look at the progress and check for likeness... that is just - what: crazy? Ambitious? Insane? challenge? stressful? bound to fail?

I'd say all of the above - - -

- - - obviously, I went for it!

Took a reference photo, did my drawing upside down (thank you WackieM), found my white shape (mouse included), surrounded it with light values, added darks, started to develop value bridges, and got very close to tears, as the first stages are always hideous and discouraging... As WackieM says, every painting has its teenage stages, which you really don't want anyone to witness.

But - it's starting to come along. I got several comments that if I am after likeness, then it's quite successful. I know, I know - right now it looks like last night John had a bit too much to drink (see the red nose?) and got into a pub fight that gave him a nice shiner. Well, don't jump to conclusions - wait till it's finished.

In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow:

One more day to go!!!


Myrna Wacknov said...

Great idea doing a portrait of the instructor right before his very eyes. It's looking good! So, What did he say?

Nava said...

He was surprised, but liked the way I broke it into shapes, and said he is looking forward to how it's gonna turn out. So am I...

Someone at the workshop asked me "So, you are going to give it to him as a gift, right?". Well, if he gives me one if his paintings, I might consider it.