Oil on panel, 12×9″
The title of this post refers to words from the 1984 movie Karate Kid and also my process in this painting except for the painting it would be more like “Paint On, Wipe Off (Breathe!) Paint On, Wipe Off… ” (click on “Keep Reading” below to see photos of the steps). I’m not happy with the front flower but I’m ready to move on to the next painting. With each one I learn so much more, including how much more there is to learn!!!!
I had two main goals for this painting/learning experience:
- Think in terms of “Whole Canvas”
- Keep trying to understand how to work with oil paint so that I’m taking advantage of its wonderful qualities rather than fighting them. (I’ll keep trying!)
In my many years of watercolor painting, I worked hard to capture what excited me about my subject. I often worked close focus without much background, or just using the lovely white of the paper as my background to set off the glittering glass or glowing flowers I was painting. If the composition didn’t quite work out–no problem, just crop as needed with a mat and frame.
In oil painting the background has to be an integral part of the painting–you can’t just leave the glaring white of the gessoed canvas as your background. And you can’t crop a stretched canvas or panel like you can paper. I was struggling with this concept and finally it clicked. It’s just another way of seeing and, like peeling layers of the onion, the haze peeled from eyes and I could see that a painting is not subject & background — they fit together to complete the picture, just as night completes day. While an object that interests me enough to paint it is the focal point, I need (for now) to think of the PAINTING as the subject.
1. Set up the still life, photograph it, check composition in Photoshop.
2. The composition won’t fit on my 12×9 panel so experiment in Photoshop. Cut 2 top flowers and pasted them lower and shortened the height of the jar.
3. Thinking Whole Canvas: Big empty space on bottom left. Composition needs balance so added a rose stem took another photo. Argh! Now I have to photoshop the flowers to move them down again….except I don’t because this time I CUT the actual flowers with SCISSORS instead of doing it in Photoshop which took two seconds instead of half an hour at the computer! (DUH!)
4. The composition still didn’t look right–the new stem needed to overlap the jar. Moved it, took another photo.
5. Getting really tired of the computer and want to paint so I skipped value studies sketch (big mistake–put me at a disadvantage later.) I started painting by putting in the darks.
6. Blocked in shapes and colors I see.
7. Painted in the front flower and jar
8. The front flower was good but I kept messing with it. Should have left it alone because I went too far and ended up with mud.
9. Jar got all mucked up; wiped it off and started it over. Wiped it off again and repainted again, ditto for front flower. Ended up with picture at top of page. Decided I’d had enough and called it done.