An Unexpected Treasure From Beginning to End
Have you read The One Thing by Garry Keller and Jay Papasan? I read this book recently, and while I'm still working out how to apply the principles of the book to the administrative side of my work, it gave me an interesting idea to try in the studio. I usually work on 3-5 paintings at a time, each taking turns on the easel throughout the day. I wondered how it would affect my work if I painted just one painting at a time, not picking up a new canvas until the one I am currently working on is completed. So I gave it a try, and took my Facebook and Instagram followers along with me. Each day, I posted a progress photo of this painting, explaining my thought process along the way. Here are the progress photos and explanations in case you missed it.
In this photo, the painting is in the first early layers, where I'm laying in color and texture in an intuitive manner only vaguely based on my reference photo. Next I will begin the stage I call "taming the crazy," where I begin to define the shapes, and indicate where the highlights and shadows will be.
The second day in the studio, things are beginning to take shape and get definition. The building in the top left corner was replaced by a tree. At this point, I'm still refining the composition of the piece, and determining the color scheme. For this painting, I'm using a lot of purples and greens. This is a favorite color combination of mine, because I love the beautiful greys you can get when you mix purple and green together.
In this stage of the painting, I begin to work slower, my brush strokes become more deliberate and intentional. I adjust the colors and composition, until I am satisfied with the result. At this point, I am looking and thinking as much as I am putting my brush to the canvas.
The flower in the lower left didn't feel right to me, so I moved it. This happens frequently in a painting. What works in a sketch or photo does not always work on the canvas. This painting is in the home stretch, and at this point, I spend more time looking and thinking than painting. Each addition is carefully thought out because this is a delicate stage of a painting for me. If I'm not careful, I could easily overwork it, so I work slowly, and continually step back to look at the painting from a distance to get a sense of it as a whole.
In this photo, the painting stage is done, but the painting itself is not yet ready to be released. It will spend a few days out of my sight, in the closet. After a few days, I take it out and look at it with fresh eyes to see if there is anything that needs adjusting. I look at it in the studio, in the mirror, upside down, and photographed in black and white. I use all these methods to ensure everything is just right. After I make any adjustments, it will get signed and photographed. At that point, it is still not done. The final step is the 3 day varnishing process to protect the painting's surface and ensure the colors stay true for many years to come. When the varnish is dry, it will get its hanging wire installed and it will finally be ready for listing on my website.
At first, the unexpected treasure was my visit to the Florence Griswold museum (which you can read about here). I had no idea when i decided to paint the lovely hydrangeas in the garden there that I would discover another unexpected treasure. Each day that I posted my progress on this painting, I was humbled by all the wonderful support and interest in my work. It is such a gift to be able to spend my days doing something I love, and an even bigger gift to have so much support from my community. So, thank you dear reader, for taking an interest in my work. I am eternally grateful for your support.