started last night; where to now....?

I began this last night and am having my often felt anxiety about adding colour.    Some paintings in the past have worked to this stage and I like them as they stand.   Then I add colour, cover what I have done and the work begins to have a "laboured" look to it in my eyes.    I then struggle to recapture the sketchiness of how it is now, and find I never can.    Although the resulting painting may work fine in the end, I feel I ruined what I had.

Anyone else have this problem?  If so, how do you resolve it?
Many thanks.
dencaljudithMoleManA_Time_To_Paintpcstapleswhunt
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Comments

  • I remember Mr schmidt mentioning a similar problem as you. He also sketched a lot in terra rosa color underpainting. His answer was that some of these underpaintings are better left as is than covered with paint. I have sometimes the same problem when I use this type of underpainting. I have not found a good solution. So I totally understand how you feel.
  • adridri said:
    I remember Mr schmidt mentioning a similar problem as you. He also sketched a lot in terra rosa color underpainting. His answer was that some of these underpaintings are better left as is than covered with paint. I have sometimes the same problem when I use this type of underpainting. I have not found a good solution. So I totally understand how you feel.
    Thank you.
    I wonder if changing the way I begin a painting would prevent this quandary, then?    So far this way seems to come naturally, but perhaps I can learn a new way....?
  • The indirect approach that you are taking usually follows the drawing stage that you have with a thinned wash of colors to sort out the color and value and the focal points.  You can use gamsol or oderless turp to thin the paint.  After that wash dries then they go in with regular “fatter” paint.
  • GTO said:
    The indirect approach that you are taking usually follows the drawing stage that you have with a thinned wash of colors to sort out the color and value and the focal points.  You can use gamsol or oderless turp to thin the paint.  After that wash dries then they go in with regular “fatter” paint.
    So, the sketch itself should be done in colours?  I generally do not grid, or draw out a composition (I am far too sporadic and lazy for that!)   I just grab a canvas, a brush, some turps and a tube of paint; and start from there to sketch with the brush and thinned colour.   Is this when I should be adding colour?  I might try that the next time.  Thanks.
    The way it stands now, I am not sure if this is just a way of cheating myself out of the learning how to go on from here and add hues and more subtle tonal variations and detail with colour; or is this (nearly) a painting in its own right and better left (barring a little work), to stand on its own merits?
  • That's a nice sketch,@toujours. If you do a monochrome sketch/block-in that turns out really well and could stand on its own merits, then why not keep it and and do another that you then build up with colour?
  • tassieguy said:
    That's a nice sketch,@toujours. If you do a monochrome sketch/block-in that turns out really well and could stand on its own merits, then why not keep it and and do another that you then build up with colour?
    That is what I am wondering?  Is that what other people do, or is everyone braver than me?
  • This is a lovely sketch!

    I think it is worth noting that the middle of a painting [which is sometimes known as the Ugly Middle] is the hardest part, because then the possibilities are narrowing down and the amount of tedious work is revealed. You have a few options at this point.

    -Leave it as a value sketch [you can make a duplicate of the value sketch and fully paint whichever one is easier to part with]
    -Keep working indirectly and focus on the mass drawing and values [maybe do a grisaille if you want to really explore this direction!]
    -Go ahead with the colours and sacrifice your sketch [if it doesn't go your way you can always repeat the painting with your new knowledge]

    Your feeling is one that we have [presumably] all experienced! It's pretty normal to feel apprehensive to ruin your Work In Progress, and in many cases this feeling comes before making some kind of significant step forward in your practice :)

    Also, WRT pictures having a "Laboured" feeling, unfortunately the only way I know how to solve this is by working through it. Enough laboured pictures in a row and you are bound to make one that is painted fluently. It's a probability game, but unlike gambling, your chances of winning increase each time.

    There is a book I read recently called "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland that has a great framework for dealing with these kinds of feelings. I highly recommend it [its not too long either] and you could also check out Mark's video about the artist curse.

    Good luck! I'm looking forward to seeing what direction you take this in!
  • @StephanHM, Thank you very much for your post.  It is full of helpful information and advice.  I shall look out for the book and will definitely look up Mark's video again.
    I shall update, when I make my decision.
  • I don't think there is a way you 'should' do it, there are multiple ways of starting a painting as explained above. If you want an excellent introduction to different ways of starting a painting I recommend reading the book all prima 2 by R. Schmidt (that you can find at bookzz), which explains this in great details.
    MichaelDjudith
  • adridri said:
    I don't think there is a way you 'should' do it, there are multiple ways of starting a painting as explained above. If you want an excellent introduction to different ways of starting a painting I recommend reading the book all prima 2 by R. Schmidt (that you can find at bookzz), which explains this in great details.
    Thanks for this.  I feel like I have some homework to do, with all these books to devour!!
  • edited January 2
    @toujours ps: You don't have to search through the entire book, it has a special chapter about the different starting methods.
  • edited January 2
    @toujours, great suggestions above.

    You have made a great start here. Perhaps try not feel too precious about the underpainting and remind yourself that you are going to improve on it with colour.

    I guess I have a different approach on this depending on the piece. If I am doing something detailed that needs more precision I will be as accurate as I can with the underpainting or drawing. Then when painting 
    I will stick by the accuracy as close as I can.

    If I am not doing that kind of of piece and working a little looser I am ok about and relaxed with the fact that what is already there is a guide for approximation. Sometimes the underpainting/drawing will get a little lost, and thats ok, its just a guide for me.


    I recall a while back when I was worried about proceeding on a piece of work. I was pleased with what I had done so far and also worried about continuing further with suggestions from an artist friend/teacher.

    I asked her “what if I [email protected]*k it up ? “

    Her reply was “How are you going to learn if you dont allow yourself to [email protected]*k things up ?”

     :) 


    whunt
  • adridri said:
    @toujours ps: You don't have to search through the entire book, it has a special chapter about the different starting methods.
    Ah, yes, but books, like the internet, can become a rabbit hole of time wasting entertainment!!!
  • @MichaelD, thank you for your time in replying and your advice.
    Gee, I must have learnt lots over the years from the number of  [email protected]*k-ups I have managed!  Is there a number for that like an IQ number?
    MichaelDadridri
  • My pleasure @toujours, a problem shared is a problem for everybody  =)

    Its good to also remember how forgiving oils are.


    “I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure that I can repeat them exactly”

    ― Peter Cook
    judith
  • MichaelD said:
    My pleasure @toujours, a problem shared is a problem for everybody  =)

    Its good to also remember how forgiving oils are.


    “I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure that I can repeat them exactly”

    ― Peter Cook
    Ha, clever man, he was onto it!
    MichaelD
  • Indirect painting typically does a drawing like you have done using an umber or sienna color.  It is thinned down and should dry in a day or two.  Then you lay in blocks of shapes to get the values close to what you would like.  That stage uses either a single color like umber or sienna that ranges straight from the tube to thinned down with gamsol or OMS, or you can add black and white to get a gray range of values.  At that stage you’ve got your form and decided the value range “key” of the painting, low, mid or high key.  You can lay that down getting full chiaroscuro or just blocked in.   You let that dry and then you use full color that matches those values to lay in your color.  If you mess up just wipe the color off since the under layer is dry.
    That method requires some patience.
    Or you can do a finer drawing on a mid toned canvas and just lay paint down after matching the value and color carefully working your way from background to foreground.  That’s how I work.
    judith
  • @GTO, makes for interesting reading.   I can see I have lots of experimenting to do.
  • When i paint with one colour i can focus more on drawing. This usually results to a pleasing result because I'm not bad at drawing.

    When i add colour i find my self focusing more on colour and less on drawing. 
    Painting isn't like a voodoo ritual. 
    It's drawing with a brush (ok sure and a lot more than that)
    Maybe pre mix your colours so you don't have to worry about it and focus more on your drawing. 

    Marino
  • I agree with @Marinos_88 about premixing your colors/values.  I premixed colors/values in color strings for quite a few paintings before mixing on the fly.  I still use a color checker though.  I basically followed Mark’s instructions to the letter starting out and recommend doing so for beginneing.
  • @Marinos_88 and @GTO, Pre mixing colours is not something I have ever tried (hanging head in shame)  I suppose I tend to make my own colours but stick to the values as much as I can when painting an object could be generic....any old horse, not a specific one, any old dog, not a specific one, any old tree, etc... so my colour checking leaves a lot to be desired at times.   I tend to paint too much by the seat of my pants, rather than taking a more disciplined approach.   New Year; what better time to make some changes.  Thanks for your suggestions. 
  • On anxiety...

    I come from a Bob Ross background and he helped me with being too precious.

    He took delight in covering up his favourite parts of a painting. He said "I love those trees but here goes, WHOOOSH, I've covered them with a hill. Don't worry, I've got plenty more trees in my brush".

    You've got the skills to redo the sketch so why bother stopping. Get on with the fun stuff.
  • @heartofengland, I like that saying.
    I think a lot of it comes down to accident.   I still don't feel I have the skill, so am amazed every time something appears from my brush or pencil or whatever I sketch with.  Marks appear like magic and I sometimes wonder if I should interfere further.....  This does not happen every time I paint.   Perhaps 2 or 3 out of every 10 paintings?

    I must go off and discover how many trees my brushes have!
    heartofenglandwhunt
  • edited January 3
    I have 2 points to bring your attention to, however its only my personal viewpoint and I might be wrong:

    1) This year in ARC Salon competition a person won 3rd place in figurative/portraiture (I dont remember which one but either of these two) just with a grisaille or monochrome underpainting. He stated in description, that it wasn't his intention when he started but when the underpainting was done, he thought it looks quite ok to be stopped there. 

    What I mean to say is, incomplete works might look beautiful rather than overworked works. So, if one knows when to stop, that knowledge is priceless. Trust your eyes as you are the best critic, and never stop training your artistic eyes as well by looking at works of others with different compositions, styles, etc.

    2) Never be afraid thinking "it might ruin my work" when you want to proceed or achieve something more in the work. Remember, if you have done something once, you can do it again. Don't be afraid to experiment. Be confident even if the result is not perfect at the first attempt. Be patient and add and erase color in smaller increments, don't rush to cover a big area first. Step back and observe how it looks after some strokes and then keep repeating. I think getting better is never ending and one shouldn't stop to have fun. 
  • @toujours...that's a beautiful sketch...have you ever thought about painting some and not all of it?
    ... not full on but subtly , using the painted areas to emphasise others?
    Also regarding colour...Mark is really clear that colour is not as important as value...

    and don't worry about doing the techniques perfectly, in a really disciplined manner or even necessarily in precise order...if that will cost you the impetus to paint...do what gets you painting...

    but use the provided information to assist you...

    (I followed Mark's technique precisely but when it's a complex piece I have to draw the base painting in coloured pencils (not graphite tho) to help me get the shapes and details in order first then I can worry about precise colours later...so we all do it how it works for us...and that develops and evolves as well)



  • @osiosbon, and @judith,  Thanks for your suggestions and thoughts.   I am heartened on hearing of the ARC Salon place getter exhibiting a work some may feel unfinished.  I have been toying with trying to do just as suggested here, and only partially painting sections of the canvas.
    I have already tried adding just a bit of colour to block in one horse and have lost some of what I had.  It will eventually work as a painting, but I feel it could have been better if I had done less, or differently somehow.
    I would like to think I can work out a system that makes such paintings easier to finish.    I just need to play around and work out what parts of the canvas need colour marks, and what do not.   If I end up doing more abstracted work, then so be it.   I have a feeling I am not a realistic painter, although I have tried to be!!
    I have just done an advertesment  painting to hang on notice boards at the vets and pet food shops.   I shall post it in another thread.  Perhaps the way I painted it is how I should handle the odd sketch paintings I want to stop painting?

    Everyone has been very helpful in this thread, I really appreciate all the sound advice and suggestions.  I will post the end result of this, but may set it aside for now.  I have 5 paintings on the go at the moment of various sizes and stages.   I will carry on with them, then get back to this one.

    I hope to be able to quote General MacArthur  "...I came through, and I shall return...'

    judith
  • MichaelD said:
    ...

    I recall a while back when I was worried about proceeding on a piece of work. I was pleased with what I had done so far and also worried about continuing further with suggestions from an artist friend/teacher.

    I asked her “what if I [email protected]*k it up ? “

    Her reply was “How are you going to learn if you dont allow yourself to [email protected]*k things up ?”

     :) 

    Michael, that correlates very nicely with the more standard expression: "He who never made a mistake never learned anything.".

    More disconcertingly though...
    what if instead her reply had been: "Well, then you'd have to marry me, wouldn't you!:)  =)

    More seriously, I think there is a lot of wisdom in the raw principle as you'd written it. Any mistake, if affordable, shouldn't need to be recoverable at cost – the trick is perhaps to learn that it isn't useful to meet with the same mistake repetitively.  ;)
  • @MoleMan

    “the trick is perhaps to learn that it isn't useful to meet with the same mistake repetitively. “

    Of course, hence my jocular Peter Cook quote.


    “More disconcertingly though...
    what if instead her reply had been: "Well, then you'd have to marry me, wouldn't you”.”

    Yes that would certainly have been disconcerting, considering that she is already married  : =)

  • @MichaelD :)

    Peter Cook, by the way, sits among my Eternal heroes. The Derek and Clive sketches similarly, except you needed to have quite a lot of whisky to hand to keep up with the double act.

    Best rgds, Duncan  =)
    MichaelDjudith
  • @moleman, Oh yes Derek and Clive were staple listening material in my high school days, and still appeal to my puerile sense of humour side 45 years on.


    Anyway I dont want to sidetrack toujours thread  :)
    MoleMan
  • MichaelD said:
    @moleman, Oh yes Derek and Clive were staple listening material in my high school days, and still appeal to my puerile sense of humour side 45 years on.


    Anyway I dont want to sidetrack toujours thread  :)
    Feel free to keep Peter Cook alive and relevant in our thoughts....
    MichaelD
  • @Toujours - This is a satisfying line drawing made with paint. I think it is fine in its current state.

    BTW, do you like line drawings made with black or blue paint as much as you do with red-brown? I ask because I suspect that part of what you like about this image is its warm color.  (A minor quibble: the hind foot of the horse on the right is on the same visual plane as the front feet - it projects forward. That hind leg's hock is almost level with the front knee.) 

    Have you ever repeated a regular filled-in painting of an image that you had previously just painted a line drawing of? I sometimes force myself to make back-to-back paintings of the same thing but executed differently, to force myself to see something differently. If I mess them both up (a frequent occurrence) it is no big deal to me. If I can't force myself to repeat, then that tells me something about me :) 
  • @Desertsky, I love them in black, but not so much blue paint.

    Your quibble (a favourite word of mine) is correct.  There are actually 2 glaring mistakes.   The near side front leg is too short and the near side hind (although standing wide behind) is also too long.  I think fixing one if not both will improve it.    However, I have set it aside since I did begin to add colour to that particular horse, and do not like it.   I have also made the horse too heavy set and more hunter type than I wanted.   It will be a painting for a day I have no inspiration!
    Instead, I have done something I rarely do and am painting a picture exactly from a photo I too years ago at the races.   It is a mindless occupation, but gives my mind a rest from having to use a series of different reference pictures and melding them together which is my usual way of working.

    On to your next question, the answer is only once.   Perhaps something I should do more often, or at least in situations similar to this.   I think it is a really good suggestion and I will certainly make certain to have a second canvas of the same size, each time I begin a painting, just in case!  Thank you.
  • I really like your drawing a lot @toujours.  It does look very nice as it is, but this has the makings of a very wonderful painting.  I don't use an underpainting like this but can see how it would make you question yourself whether color over the sketch is a good idea.  I would give it a go with color to see where it took me, keeping color and value as accurate as possible.  Like already mentioned, you can always wipe it off if your underpainting is dry.  Or I might do a separate underpainting just like this one and add color to that one if you're afraid of ruining what you already have.  This looks like something you would see from long ago and a monochrome painting would also work very well, kind of a sepia photograph feel.  I can't wait to see what you do with this underpainting.  
  • edited January 7
    Thank you @A_Time_To_Paint.  Many years ago I began a painting like this, then I had a gardening accident which changed my life and I stopped painting for 10 or so years.   I ended up framing it as an unfinished work and it hangs on my wall.
    2 years ago I began painting again, and that sepia look was the way I went, since I had to paint differently to the way I once had (Ala prima is no longer possible).  I did a series of oil on paper sepia of my local historic town and turned them into a calendar.
    Last year I did a second series of different buildings to make another calendar.    By now I would have thought I was all sepia-d out !!!

    I am looking at that painting daily, having added a bit of colour to one horse.   I will get back to it, and perhaps as you say, begin another once I get a frame the same size.

    Meanwhile, I have begun 2 others which have my attention, plus 3 small 8x8 paintings I am trying to get done to offer for sale locally.

    When I eventuallyI resolve this painting, I will post an update for you.

    Ed to add...

    Just a thought, I have never used retouch varnish.    Could I use something to seal the sketch layer, prior to adding colour.....?  Would it also be removed if I remove the colour with turps?
  • Here's my advice, similar to what others have said:

    This art is for YOU.  You love it as is, so keep it!  
    Then make another if you still want to try the challenge of adding color to this.  Take risks but keep the painting as you want it!  Make two is my advice.  And yes, that's 'okay'.  There are really no rules, you know...
  • Thank you, @allforChrist, I value your advice.
  • @toujours
    "Just a thought, I have never used retouch varnish.    Could I use something to seal the sketch layer, prior to adding colour.....?  Would it also be removed if I remove the colour with turps?"

    Why do you think sealing the sketch is a good idea? What problems have you encountered not doing this?

    If you use some sort of retouch varnish, which I understand to be a diluted form of regular varnish, and this varnish is designed to be soluble to turpentine or mineral spirits, then if the varnish on the painting was removed, the retouch layer and all above it is vulnerable to the turp/MS. 

    I have never sealed a sketch before painting on it. 

    You may find the MITRA file on varnished helpful. 
  • Thank you @Desertsky, I wondered about sealing the sketch, so if I ruin it with a later colour layer, I can remove the colour layer whilst it is still wet, yet maintain the original sketch.  It seems to work in my mind in theory, but practice is always a different matter.  
    Yes, time to sort through what gems of information MITRA have on the subject.  Thanks for reminding me of them as a resource.
  • I have come to the conclusion that I am the least spontaneous painter in this forum. I spent about 3000 hours over the last 3.5 years doing composition exercises. I work out color and value strings before I start the painting. I sketch in the main elements with a graphite pencil first; and then erase slightly those lines. 

    So, I would suggest that you figure out what work process is best for you, based on your goals (I do NOT recommend my draconian approach). Then follow the plan and do not deviate. If that is to do line drawings in paint, do it. If that is to do more traditional completely painted over paintings, then do it. The Mark Carder approach seems to be very effective.  From your postings, it seems to me that you are not sure of the goals - and if this is not the case, I apologize. 

    I have learned a lot from my painting mistakes over the years. I suggest that you may find it useful and liberating to have a goal of messing up 50-100 paintings. No worry about failure because failing and learning along the way is the goal.    
  • @Desertsky, What you say has a lot of merit.  The thought of messing up so many paintings is daunting, but I can see the long-term value.   I am probably on track to do so the way I am going without it being a goal !!
    I just watched Ian Roberts new video about his masterclass and he talks of the importance of sorting it out in a sketch first.   Perhaps I should set a goal of adopting that form of method for a month and see how I get on?  Considering I seem to have messed up the composition on the next painting I began, it seems the prudent thing to do.  Thanks.
  • Desertsky said:
    I have come to the conclusion that I am the least spontaneous painter in this forum...
    Oh no, you aren't.  ;)
    DesertskyAbstraction
  • @toujours - What Ian Roberts is referring to, I think, are thumbnail sketches on separate paper to identify and fix the problems before you start the painting. This is how I was taught back in the dark ages of art school. I still do versions of this. 
  • Desertsky said:
    @toujours - What Ian Roberts is referring to, I think, are thumbnail sketches on separate paper to identify and fix the problems before you start the painting. This is how I was taught back in the dark ages of art school. I still do versions of this. 
    That is how I understood it.


  • LucianLucian -
    edited January 25
    I don't have any piece of advice to add, as everything has been covered by the other members, but I would like to ask if you think that making the sketch in raw umber is preferable to making it in pencil.
  • Lucian said:
    I don't have any piece of advice to add, as everything has been covered by the other members, but I would like to ask if you think that making the sketch in raw umber is preferable to making it in pencil.
    I have found the more I paint, the less I found the need for a pencil, especially when working vertically on a canvas or board.

    I spent my life sketching and only took painting up much later.   Having now developed an affinity with a paintbrush I am finding it quicker and easier to use diluted paint to do the sketch in the colour I use to stain (?) the canvas prior to painting.

    I tried charcoal and like using that, but I found it did not mix well with paint.

    If painting on gessoed paper, I will use a coloured watercolour pencil prior to adding oil paint.   I tend to have the page at a 45 degree angle and that favours a pencil sketch and finer brushes.

    Hope this has answered your question.   I have never thought to ask how other people begin a painting.  Perhaps we all adapt over time, or perhaps some people like to stay to a hard and fast formula.?  
    Abstractionheartofengland
  • I sketched until I learnt to paint. Then I started seeing in values and masses and prefer that.
  • @toujours, This subject apparently strikes a familiar chord with many. Now please keep in mind that I have very limited experience and therefore very limited pertinent knowledge of the many challenges an artist encounters in there quest of artistic competence. All of the posts above seem  like 'good' advice. It will be interesting g to see which direction you take. 

    I think perhaps that you set it aside for now and feel good about what you have done and nurture the possibility of returning to it if and when the opportunity and feeling presents itself. My guess is that you will add color to this one or you will remake one with color and value. In doing so I think you will be able to have more distinct seperation between the 2 horses and the man that will define the focal point and feeling of the moment. I think it would be interesting to see how you handle the truck and tree in the background, so many opportunities for interesting colors and textures to play with. :)


  • I sketched until I learnt to paint. Then I started seeing in values and masses and prefer that.
    Yes, I can follow that thinking.

    I practised linework as a young teenager, and decided that if I could describe 'form' well, in drawing, I  should be able also to paint 'form'. By accident perhaps, I developed my draughtsmanship to being able to write it coherently in terms of 'value' and 'mass', and then I hit a brick wall.

    Brushes—carrying oil paint—sat happily in my hand, and performed quite adequately. I'd assumed that the apprenticeship of freehand draughtsmanship would carry me forward automatically. The brick wall I hit, was incompetence around colour, and that obstruction haunts me still.

    If intrinsically you are a draughtsman, and if your hand can carry a pencil as elegantly as it can a paintbrush, then build your painting with a pencil, and mark your naked canvas in that way if you choose to.

    If on the other hand—and it doesn't matter which hand—your confidence is nearer to painterly, then splosh it on and work it out as you go along.

    This commenting not directed personally at @Abstraction, but I do think he remarked with a very pertinent clue.  ;)

    With kindest rgds to all, Duncan 

    Abstraction
  • dencaldencal -
    edited January 26
    Toujours
    Could I use something to seal the sketch layer, prior to adding colour.....?
    Yes. Readily available in art, craft and hardware stores - Workable Fixative.
    Usually a light resin in a volatile solvent which vents off in about 20 minutes.
    Pretty heavy on propane, butane and dichloromethane so best to use outdoors.
    Not likely to be troubled by a quick pass with turps.

    Example:


    Denis

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