Cliffs of Dover: #1

As I’ve been working on drawing, I’ve also been watching videos of tutorials. In one an artist recommended some drills to practice drawing, and followed it up with “but don’t spend more than 50% of your time on drills. With the other 50%, spend time drawing just for fun.”

I almost immediately smacked my forehead. Oh right! I need to remember why I paint! I didn’t start painting in order to get better. I didn’t start painting because I wanted to paint like anyone in particular. I started painting because I wanted to enjoy myself.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped painting because it’s fun, and I started painting in order to get noticed. I started posting images on Facebook and Reddit and Instagram because I was mining for likes and validation that I’m worth something. The subconscious thought was, “if I paint, and get a lot of views on my blog, or a lot of likes on Facebook or Reddit, then I’ve succeeded.”

That is bullshit.

I want to paint because I enjoy it. I don’t want to paint for validation. I don’t want to paint for likes. I want to paint because it’s fun for me. I want to paint because the world is beautiful and I want to portray the beauty I see.

So, I’m going to try to stop watching tutorials for a while. I’m going to stop making huge detailed posts about the process I engaged in, and go back to just painting something because I want to. I’ll still post here, and write up about lessons I learned, but I want to stop focusing so much on getting likes and views. I admit, I still want likes. Who doesn’t want to be liked? But I’m going to try very hard to divorce that from why I paint, and what I paint.

Fortunately for me, my five year old daughter saw this and said “That’s good. You’re like Bob Ross.” So I guess I don’t really need to mine for likes any more – since I have already received the best compliment I could ever get.

Today, I painted this photograph of the White Cliffs of Dover taken by my brother or sister-in-law.

Lessons I learned from painying that.

Anyway: here are some lessons I learned from painting this.¿@$

  1. The sky should normally be the lightest value, but in this painting the subject is largely white. So I needed to darken the sky a bit in order to differentiate it from the subject.
  2. Atmosphere is easily achieved by turning the horizon into one big lost edge. Especially when painting an overcast day by the ocean.
  3. White subjects aren’t just white. Use value changes in white subjects in order to define the mass of the object.
  4. Adding those itsy bitsy figures on the top of the cliff really did help create a sense of scale, even though they are barely noticeable.
  5. The sea here is good. And it’s good because it isn’t overworked. I painted some dry brush tone changes with confidence, and when they weren’t exactly what I had in mind, I just left it alone. Now, I can’t find the things I was unhappy with when I painted it.
  6. Work on birds.
  7. Work on perspective – the foreground grass should reach a bit higher so the cliffs don’t look like they are standing up above the viewer.

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