I almost always paint on quarter sheets. So tonight, I cut one of those quarter sheets in half, and set out to paint something little.
I’m really quite pleased with it.
The last time I painted this scene I tried about a billion different things. This time, I simplified. No surprise, simpler have better results.
Even though this is tiny, I spent as much time on it as I did on a larger painting. I think working at this small scale helped me considerably because it’s harder to get tunnel vision working small. I might be painting a line under a roof, but because it’s so little, I can still see the surroundings, and have a better, no — a more immediate idea of how that line relates to the greater whole.
Working on a small piece like this is also more intimate, and less intimidating. It’s the difference between a family dinner, and a formal party. I think that sort of relaxed atmosphere helped me to let go a bit, and enjoy the process, instead of grinding away in pursuit of a particular result.
It’s telling that I only took one process photo, and that I have little to say about technique – because this time I wasn’t thinking about specific techniques as I went, I was just kind of slowly placing marks, dragging lines, and dropping pigment in places where I thought they would fit. It was a comfortable and relaxing experience, and I think I’ll try it again, for sure. Maybe I’ll develop some good habits by working this way, and I’ll be able to carry those into larger works.
Looking at the painting, there is one glaring issue that I don’t like: the brown tree shape between the two structures. I was trying to add some interest to the wash on that hillside by mixing warm and cool neutrals, and the cool neutral wandered off on me. It created a somewhat unsightly line that splits the composition unintentionally.
As soon as I saw that happen, I knew I wasn’t going to like it. But I also knew that trying to fix it would have meant resetting the entire hillside, and there’s just no way it would have ended with a smooth graduated wash. So, I let the mistake live, and I’m glad I did. I still don’t like it, but I think the painting is strong enough on its own merits to outweigh the weakness of that mistake. Had I tried to fix it, the hill would have been ruined, and the entire painting along with it.
I like the simplicity of the foreground. I thought about spraying it with clean water to get some texture, but I’m glad I didn’t. I like how simple the foreground is.
I also like the way the shadows merge with neighboring shapes. That’s about it for tonight. I painted something little, and I’m proud of it.