Much as I enjoy painting, I need a pretty hefty prod to get me started. Perhaps the problem is that I need convincing that there is any point in my painting at all. Perhaps it is partly that, when I do get started, it is more of a technical exercise rather than the fulfilment of some arty vision.
Perhaps the real problem is that I haven’t a clue what I am doing other than making marks with paint on canvas or board and hoping that the end product might just amount to a passable illusion of the person or object being painted. It is as simple, and as difficult, as that.
Sometimes the hefty prod arrives quite unexpectedly, as it did a few days ago when I found this little oil sketch that has been hiding in one of the many mysterious cardboard boxes in our garage. I had forgotten that I had painted it. Like the very few others that have been anywhere near promising, it was a little sketch (4 x 3 inches) that I had produced in about 20 minutes or so, that is, quickly.
This discovery was the hefty prod that set me thinking about a fresh start on one of the four paintings that are, supposedly, “in progress” at the moment. Well, I can’t just sit down at the easel and start straight in. First, I need to re-examine the painting, which has been facing the wall since I ceased work on it a couple of weeks ago. So, in a rare, patient, frame of mind, I sit, clipboard with paper on knee and pencil in hand, a few feet from the painting so that I do not see too much minor detail. It is a portrait and I am still at the stage where I am trying to get an accurate tonal drawing. So I am trying to see what is wrong with it and listing each defect in turn and what I think needs to be done. For reasons that I haven’t thought much about just yet, I have to do this assessment quite separately from any attempt to apply paint. A day, or maybe a week, later I will find another suitable time to make a bit more progress. The task of working out where and why the paint is needed has been done and now I can concentrate on mixing and applying paint.
I like painting but I need to do it in easy stages and keep it simple. Perhaps that should tell me something!