A recent mindset that I've adopted that I feel could help a lot of artists: Always pretend that you're working on a commission. By this, I mean even if you're sketching or doing personal work, pretend that you're doing it for someone and that there's money on the line.
I thought about this because I used to have a lot of trouble finishing paintings when I was younger. I would start a painting and then run out of steam and not finish it. That all changed for me when I started doing commissions and there's no money if you don't finish! This also pushed me to always do my absolute best because I wanted the commissions to be as good as I could possibly make them. So that also meant sweating and taking my time to make sure the work looked top notch.
So for anyone out there who might be feeling lost or having trouble in any way: take some commissions. Hell, do it for free if you have to, or give some gifts. Practice with this mindset and I'm sure you'll produce better work.
I was doing some painting last night and I realized again how much I love painting various textures. The most amazing part of oil paint is the ability to transform one material into another, exactly like alchemy.
The painting was all alla prima and took me about 3 hours to complete. I'm a fast painter, but that was even fast for me to complete a painting. I recently made a deal with myself that I will never rush a painting, if I feel like I'm rushing I put my brushes down and walk away; since this painting progressed from beginning to end, I didn't feel the need to walk away. I feel like the speed also helps me because I don't end up overthinking areas and going back and muddling them up.
It was also really fun to paint because I was really inspired by the color of the rum and the orange reflections that are created with light passing through the bottle. Even though this painting only took a few hours, I was totally immersed and focused the entire time. I've come to realize that the question of "how long did that take" is not an accurate reflection of the skill or quality of the painting.
Handling the smaller details such as the label on the bottle or the cap of the bottle was the only area where I used a smaller brush. For those details I like to use small synthetic watercolor brushes, but the rest of it is larger bristle brushes. And the details are actually pretty abstract when you see the painting close up. I'm not sure if it's my own speed or laziness, but I always painted details in a shorthand sort of way. I like suggesting a bit of detail, but I don't like laborious painting because it makes the painting feel lifeless in my opinion. I feel like I captured a sense of space with this one and the light and textures are as accurate as I could make them. Stay tuned for more soon!
I just did a painting study tonight (pictured below) that inspired me to share some some insight. The reason I did this painting was because I was feeling pretty bad after having painted a really terrible painting earlier today. So I was feeling pretty low and decided to take a different approach to this second painting. The painting is of an amaryllis bulb that flowered recently. I wanted to just slow down a little bit and paint this study piece by piece in a very deliberate fashion.
I feel like the painting came out well and taught me a really valuable lesson in the importance of having deliberate action with my paint. I won't be in a rush anymore to paint and I'll be taking my time from here on.