How to get a painting started – 3 great ways to be more effective in the studio (Part One)


3 Great ways to get a painting started.

Part 1-Name it first  (A three part posting)

Over the years I have found that most all artists have a bit of difficulty getting work started; this applies to both young artists just getting going and to more experienced artists who want to produce more but haven’t built the habit of getting into the studio on a regular basis.  I have observed people taking literally years to get themselves going.  Excuses abound but the reality is that most often there was never any experience or training for the artist to be productive or effective.  Most artists I know, outside of commercial or professional artists, have no real process or pattern for getting a work going; they just start and kind of work forward.

Because of my own experiences in the art field, I have had to formulate a way to get work moving forward, and nowadays when that isn’t happening it is from procrastination, not from lack of knowing how.

Here are three great pointers that I use without even thinking about it. It just comes by habit now. I realized the other day that this is a very sharable process and I should develop it for a posting.

What is the idea behind the picture?

Why is this interesting; does the image carry an idea or concept?

Don’t paint it and then name it – name it and then paint it.

Most artists don’t want to specify what they are about to render, feeling it is restrictive.  I contend the real reason is because to name it is to be disappointed if it doesn’t match one’s own self promise.

If you don’t know what your painting will represent before you begin then it is an accidental painting.  Nothing wrong with that, but you can be assured that even though you possess great skills in rendering and can always “pull it off,” it may be an image of great visual attraction, (a success in and of its’ self), but it will have to have a second accident to be a success as a conceptual work of art having any real depth.

Perhaps that is not important while painting still life or landscape representational paintings, but it is the most important thing in painting “story” images.  Those that carry concept or emotion, or any social response, commentary or even chairacture, and cartooning.

Keeping in mind that most successful still life paintings do tell a story, (same with landscapes), and those are well planned out in the beginning.

All images are viewed alone; the artist is not there to explain, and if they had to, the painting is not successful.

If the picture becomes incidental, the viewer will respond in an incidental manner as well.  The smallest concept is paint-worthy and can carry meaning.  It doesn’t have to be earthshaking.

Example: An ice cream cone makes a great painted image, conjuring up taste and memories across a lifetime, yet is a simple image.  When thought of as a warm day and melting, (TITLE: THINK SLOW AND EAT FAST); as a birthday treat (TITLE: ALL MY FRIENDS LOVE ME!), ice cream on a date (TITLE: TWO SPOONING).  Can’t you see the idea by the name alone, and once rendered in your own style it becomes personal.

When you name the idea before you name the painting, then paint the image to match your idea, you can more easily modify the name of the painting after it is done and it will match what you rendered.  This brings your whole talent to the painting, you are free to use your skills to render rather than discover, and use your mind to discover while you render.  Because you have a direction to go, it is not an accidental painting.  Naming the idea first is one good way to start a painting.

I will post part two in two days!

jmc/emc

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5 thoughts on “How to get a painting started – 3 great ways to be more effective in the studio (Part One)

  1. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    I did name it!
    I am working on a piece called Natures Bells….
    I have changed how I am laying out several times, but I am sitting here writings where I want things to go….
    you have the best post Wonderful information that is an easy read, and I like your thoughts…
    Hope you are having a good weekend..staying warm….
    (its warm here, had to turn on the AC today, more because of the humidity thought)
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

    Reply
    1. eightdecades Post author

      Thank you for your kind words, I have learned to name my thoughts before I paint, and it really does focus the work, glad it helps, you too have a nice weekend. It is getting cold here, down to 30 degrees now.
      I appreciate your responses.

      Reply
      1. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

        as I enjoy yours when you visit…
        it’s 66 here this morning, a little rain…
        I am not quite ready for cold yet, I have to recover my greenhouse…it 20×60 and I procrastinated this year in being ready…my gardens are still in full bloom but wild looking…okay Natural looking….
        I look forward to see more of your art, I loved the “first oil painting” and especially your ships…not sure why but they feel good….
        okay, rambled enough, hope I didn’t bore you to sleep…
        Stay warm…(don’t send the cold my way just yet Please)…Have a wonderful Sunday…
        Take Care,…You Matter…
        )0(
        maryrose

  2. mixedupmeme

    I read the first sentence “have a bit of difficulty getting work started” and I knew this post could be of interest.

    “Name it and then paint it” could really apply. I will now be naming my activities for the day. 🙂
    “DUST – DO IT”
    “WASH – DON’T WISH IT”

    Reply

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