Now I haven’t been breathing in too much turpentine, but I recently discovered that paintings need a reason to live.
Having finished two great works of art, I pulled out some of my 6 x 8 inch canvas and just decided to paint. Let the muse move me. And ack..utter failure. Why?
Well paintings need some sort of focal point. Some place for your eye to land. Another thing I found out in my recent reading is that your eye travels from left to right in a painting. At least according to one author. So it’s nice to plan your lightness and dark and negative space to help your eye to travel. Or at least frame your picture.
I had this in hand when I just started to paint. But when I was finished there was no reason for the painting to be there. It had no reason to “live”. It did not have a life or a spirt of its own.
So now I have a couple of 6 x 8 canvas paper weights. But I think I learned a valuable lesson. You must paint was inspires you and as part of the process you must breath some light and spirit into the work.
I have this wonderful photo I took of Tila. On a warm summer day, after helping me garden and grill on the BBQ, he came in and parked himself in front of the candles and sat down and to my astonishment, looked as if he was sitting and meditating. I’ve always thought Pyrs had a spiritual and mystical side. And this proved it to me. This is the photo I used as the basis for my first painting. I have to say that this inspired the painting rather than me trying to copy it exactly. There were things in life (like the drool and dirt on Tila’s chin from the garden) that I didn’t want to make into the painting. I also wanted it to have a warm tone rather than the harsh dark background the photo has. So I had a vision of the end result as well as a mystical pyr to help me find my way.
Of course Tila helped by nudging me for treats from time to time to make sure I took enough breaks to step back and take a good look at my painting. He was absolutely right, you have to step back, assess and sometimes just stop until you figure something out.
The one thing I found out after “Nothing is White” is there are more shades of tan and brown and grey on a white Great Pyrenees than you can imagine. Let alone mix the colors. I had palettes with nothing but brown and badger and tan and various shades of cream trying to match those few hairs under the nose or over the eyes.
I did my planning and made a few preliminary sketches. And finally after days and days of working on it and letting layers dry (believe me this Pyr painting has an undercoat) I was done. Well not quite done…
Before I could start showing off my painting to my friends I had to get muse approval.
So after a proper examination, I was approved.
And at last I can say Ta Dah! Done the final work Tila Mediates.
While I know I’m just taking my first steps as an artist, I’m happy to say that the original painting is going to the rescue table at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012. So hopefully some kind person will buy it there and the money will go to the rescue of Great Pyrenees Dogs that have not yet been located in their “Forever Home” yet.
One day, while sitting around just looking I finally felt like I really “saw” for the first time. After you have a car accident and break your leg you have lots of time to look, But enough of that. I looked and saw nothing is white. Now that may not sound like much, but if you look at a shadow it may be shades of grey. A tree, shades of brown. If you put all those little shades next to one another, you have a picture.
I got it! But could I do it? I started just drawing with pencil. After a few false starts I decided that what I was doing, while not great, wasn’t all that bad. When my husband asked me for what I wanted for my birthday, I asked for oil paints. I haven’t picked up a brush in over 20 years, but am I having a ball. I decided to work through a book of oil painting exercises.
Just mixing the colors was lots of fun. In the past I just jumped in and tried to capture what I could but learning a bit was advancing what I could do as well. In the first column you have the color out of the tube, the second column is the color mixed with white, the next is the color mixed with black, the next is the color mixed with grey. The last two colums are the color mixed with it’s opposite on the color wheel (I may have played with this a bit rather than being exact) then the opposite and white. So this entire large block was made from 7 colors. The last one I threw in there as the exercise only had 6 as I was in search of shades of Pyr fur.
Of course I posted on Facebook that I recieved my oils. Not only did I recieve my oil paint set and easel, but my husband, showing great faith in my unproven ability bought me enough canvas to fill an art gallery. Next my dog’s breeder asked if I would paint a picture of my dog as a charity donation for the Great Pyrenees rescue booth. I wasn’t sure I was up to it. But I decided to try my best. So I jumped from exercises to dog portraits.
It turned out having a furry muse around really helped. I had been taking pictures of him for years and looking at Pyrs for a long time. So it was subject matter I knew well and loved and really wanted to show him off well.
Surprisingly, people actually liked what I did and even wrote to me asking for copies and cards and the like. And an idea was born. So I’ve skipped from exercise 2 in the painting techniques book, to being a painter of Pyrs and other things my furry muse Tila brings to my attention.