Persistence, patience, perseverance, determination, curiosity, courage, confidence, wonder…these are all qualities needed to become a better painter. Another essential is learning to really see and understand the subject. I titled this painting (available here) Two Survivors because only these two survived from the big bouquet during the week I struggled with two previous sunflower “studies” (aka failed paintings). Sometimes it takes a while before the “blinders” fall away so that I can see the shapes, colors, and values instead of the named bits (e.g. petal, leaf, or nose) that interfere with seeing as a painter.
I was inspired by artist Chris Beaven (whose sunflower painting I purchased and love) by his Session Detail charts that he embeds at the end of each post (sample). I modified his chart to create one for myself to focus my goals and intentions for each session and the painting as a whole. Completing the chart at the end of each painting session with image, results and plans/goals for the next session is making a big difference in my process and helps me avoid random, unfocused messing about with paint.
Below is the chart I used for this painting. If you’d like to see all three session charts for this painting with my notes about goals, composition mistakes and corrections, and corresponding images, click here to open 3-page PDF file.
I loved the original painting of the vase in Session 1 above, with wonderful warm highlights and cool shadows created by the new LED lightbulb I’m experimenting with. My intuition told me to leave the vase alone but instead I started adding the pattern from the actual vase. After a few strokes I realized I didn’t like it and tried to wipe the pattern off the still wet paint. Then I tried to return to the original shapes of color, temperature and value.
I revised the chart layout after this painting. In my next post (another sunflower still life) I’ll include the completed chart for that painting’s 6 sessions and a blank template for anyone who wants to experiment using or modifying it for their own artwork sessions.