6 x 6 inches, oil on canvas board
I have to admit to feeling a little pressure right now. The end of October is fast approaching and I lost a few days for painting this month when Life happened, so I'm running slightly behind. Although I profess to believe in the importance of sharing both good and bad efforts to show that artists don't create perfect paintings every time, I am sweating the quality of some of these pieces. That's why Pear 21 through 24 are not displayed at the top of this post...
However, I suspect that Pear 21 through 24 directly led to Pear 25, and not just numerically. I tried another exercise from Sarah Sedwick; this one on brushstroke economy. I painted my pear model 4 times, for 10 minutes each time. However, I was only allowed 25 brushstrokes in the first painting, then 20, 15, and finally just 10 brushstrokes in the last painting. (A brushstroke is from the time you touch the canvas with the brush to the time you take the brush off, so you can swirl the paint around a lot, as long as you don't lift the brush off the canvas.) Finishing the background was not a requirement. The point is to really think and observe, and consider each brushstroke very carefully. What do you really need to create the impression of your subject?
|Pear # 21 - 24|
Limited brushstroke exercise
Oh dear, I didn't do very well with this one. I often used up my brushstrokes long before the timer went off, which meant I was rushing and not concentrating on my subject. I came out of the exercise not only with some very ugly pears, but also knowing I hadn't gotten the point of it. I was feeling very frustrated with myself. I knew I needed to keep going and paint another painting, but my brain was refusing to cooperate. I looked down at my palette and felt an overwhelming sense of frustration and boredom, and I was very reluctant to pick up my paintbrushes.
As I was hesitating, I had a mini-temper tantrum inside my head. I berated myself for ever committing to this Pear Project, telling myself I was going to fail and embarrass myself, and that I was never going to be able to paint another decent painting ever again. Luckily another, louder part of me stepped in and decided that if I was going to fail, then I should just have some f*****g fun. I was sick of the palette I'd been using all month, sick of trying to get the values and shapes right: I just wanted to paint. So I cleared off my palette and grabbed the colors that appealed to me at that moment: yellow ochre, Indian red, Venetian red, burnt umber and raw umber (I couldn't find my siennas, otherwise I would've included them, too.). I made a very sketchy drawing of the pears on the canvas and then just started adding paint all around them. It was all very spontaneous, and when I was done it surprised the heck out of me that I discovered I actually liked the piece.
This was exactly why I took on this project in the first place - to see what would happen when I pushed myself, when I got bored, to find out if there was some way to tap into the more expressive side of my creativity. I just hope that I don't have to go through such angst every time I want to paint like that!