This information comes from a great book which I came across last year. I wrote a BLOG POST about the book which I also encourage you to check out.
There's some great information in the book and technical insight which is interesting. Click the file link to hear my reading and additional commentary.
I've been working on a series of self portraits lately and most of them haven't turned out well. Since I've been struggling with them I decided to try a watercolor. I've always felt more comfortable with a brush and I feel like the stars aligned tonight.
I'm happy with this self portrait because it looks like me, but it also feels like me. This is something that's hard to put into words, but I try to capture that feeling in every portrait that I paint. The physical likeness mostly comes from proportion, but I'm not quite sure where the deeper feeling comes from.
I also had some good realizations with this self portrait and it developed smoothly. I started off with an accurate underdrawing in pencil and then focused on the overall forms before I developed the detail. Yesterday, I was sketching late at night and it hit me how important the underlying form and structure is. For instance, if I sketch a face the detail has to sit on top of the form. There are a lot of elements involved with any painting, but I think this idea of form before detail is very important.
We've had some cloudy and rainy conditions the past few days, which has impacted my painting efforts. Regardless, over the weekend, I started laying in paint on a large painting showing a specific perspective of the Japanese bridge. I did an elaborate underdrawing on the canvas which allowed me to start painting without having to figure out the perspective lines. I'm still in the early stages of the painting but I wanted to share some photos since seeing the process can be interesting and educational for others.
One of my goals for this residency is to do larger paintings en plein air; I've had this in mind since arriving in Giverny. My only limitation involved the logistics of carrying the canvas and setting up in the garden in a way that wouldn't inhibit the gardeners. I'm definitely at the maximum size canvas that I can handle within these parameters.
If you're thinking about doing some larger paintings then I have some strategies to share. The first thing that I'll say is that I applaud anyone who paints on a large scale. It's one of the greatest challenges as a painter. I know size can be subject, but to me anything over 3 feet qualifies as large.
A main thing to remember is that a large painting requires more paint and more time. More paint is obvious, but remember that the time factor also includes preparation and preliminary work on the painting. Cutting corners or starting something willy nilly won't turn out well. It's good to start a larger painting with a clear plan of attack. Think about it like writing: writing a short story is very different than writing a 800 page novel (or so I'd imagine).
With that being said, I feel that it's important to do something ambitious in order to expand my comfort zone. Even if it doesn't work out, at least I've tested my limits and I can gain the confidence and reference experience. For me, I've started to become more accustomed to larger canvases as I figure out what works for me. However, I needed to laugh at myself when I went to the Louvre and Versailles and saw these paintings which are like 20 feet by 30 feet. But those paintings were usually group efforts which would take months or years.. so it's not fair to compare myself that way.
Anyway, I encourage you to push yourself and explore new ways of working. If you start something, then follow it through and don't give up halfway. I guess this applies to things other than painting, but if you want to try something ambitious in your life then try and see what happens!