I just did a new painting of a candlestick, very much inspired by a painting that I love called Candelabra with Roses by John Singer Sargent. The amount of beauty that Sargent was able to capture in such a simple and quick scene is just crazy to me. I wish I could ask Sargent some questions about his philosophy of painting!
For this painting (and for the foreseeable future), I used a really straightforward palette:
-Cadmium Yellow Light
-Cadmium Yellow Medium
-Cadmium Red Light
-Cadmium Red Medium
Aside from a few colors, this is the palette that I was using while as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy. So I guess to go forwards in finding myself again, I'm going backwards and focusing more on simplicity. No techniques, nothing fancy, no special way of doing it. I just want to focus on painting and teaching for now and listening to my own inner voice.
I picked up and toned a bunch of cheap acrylic primed canvases a few weeks ago and I'm finding that they're really helping me alleviate the pressure of making a painting. I highly recommend anyone who's going through some artist block to pick up a large pack of canvases and just have fun. Of course, I prefer an oil ground linen (preferably Fredrix 125 DP Kent) but I feel a certain amount of anxiety that comes with painting on a really nice canvas. I want it to be perfect and then it inevitably ends up way too timid and far from perfect and.
I don't feel this pressure when I use cheaper materials, I feel more confident because it feels like what do I have to lose? I try to remember that my supplies are meant to be used and saving paint won't do me any good.
Some things I've been thinking about recently: It's hitting me really hard recently how important it is for me to paint and draw from life and create work just for me. It's probably the most important thing for me to do. The other thing I've been thinking a lot about recently is focusing intensely on my teaching. I was just given an incredible teaching opportunity and I want to do the best possible job I can. I don't want any extraneous things and I need some things to be just for me.
I'm also reading some books (The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle and Power Vs. Force by Dr. David R. Hawkins) that are making me think about my own perceptions. It's all just stuff that I'm going through and I need to do it on my own and with those I love and who love me. I feel at a crucial point in my journey. I'll always be sharing some thoughts on this blog but I'll mostly be focusing on myself.
I was sketching my friend Tim last night and it hit me so suddenly, the importance of accurate values. It's way more important than color, proportion, detail or any other aspect to representational painting.
This revelation came at the perfect time to me because I was really struggling with a portrait and didn't know what I was going wrong. I think the roadblock I used to have before was to be almost afraid of making the values too dark. This fear is really impeding because most accurate values are towards the darker value range.
So a simple 3 step process for the painting below that I did was:
1. Start with a simple charcoal outline to get the basic proportions
2. Use a large brush and smudges of more opaque paint with accurate values. Don't worry about details at this stage. (squinting helps)
3. Once the basic forms are in place, then you can add minor details and refine it a little bit more, but don't go overboard and lose the planes.