Sunday, April 17, 2011

Describing your painting process

I picked up an International Artist Magazine. Actually, I got the Feb/Mar and the Apr/May issues. I have not picked this magazine up before. In the opening of these magazines is the feature of all the Prize Winners of the International Artist Magazine Challenges (#61-62). As fabulous the paintings/artists were, what intrigued me was how each artist was presented next to their painting along with their contact information.

The winning artists answered three questions about their work. They were: My Inspiration, My Design Strategy and My Working Process.  WOW! I really liked this concept. I have written down the colors and brands of paint; the size and type of paper; matted or framed; what shows the painting was entered and juried into; where its location is presently and if it is sold. All this placed in the paintings file, BUT  I have not written down why or how I painted a painting.

I really enjoyed reading these small peaks into these artists thought process. This got me to thinking....what would I say about one of my paintings. Would I be able to put into words my thought process? No one has ever asked me "how" or "why" I painted a painting. Briefly, my process is to take pictures of things that interest me. I then go through them and pick the one that I have a gut feeling/appeal to. Could I expand on that and put this into words ...say for a brochure/article or be able to explain myself to a customer or most importantly someone reading this blog?

To test this writing process using the three topics in the magazine I picked my prize winning painting Two Men and a Barge-
Gaylynn Robinson   Cincinnati, OH  USA    Watercolor    Two Men and a Barge   2009 Best of Show Java Jazz n' Art  
My Inspiration
I entered the first juried art show in my town called Java, Jazz n' Art. The show had two themes, Open and River (because my town is a river town). I had several pictures that I had taken at a park in town. I chose the picture of two gentlemen talking while taking in the views of the river. You knew it was river because of the barge going by. To me this scene represented what most people did when they were on the banks of the river - watch what floats by. 

Design Strategy
After choosing the subject, I wanted the focus to be on the two men and the barge (hence the title), therefore I put a lot of detail into the two gentlemen and enough in the barge as it moves through the painting. Everything else was props that supported the conversation. I wanted the painting to draw you into the men's conversation, so I choose the size 13"x17".

My Working Process
After deciding the size of the painting, I began drawing the scene from my picture. Once the drawing was completed I transferred it to 300 lb. Arches cold press paper taped to a board.  I like this paper because it can take the abuse of lifting. This is the process of pulling the paint back off the paper.  Next I mask of the areas that I want the white of the paper saved. I paint my watercolors on an easel upright like an oil/acrylic painting. With the painting upright I begin with my paper dry layering in the colors. I used the lifting process on the gentleman's clothing to help create the folds and creases. I finished my painting with a dry brush to put in the details. My palette is made up of paints from Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, American Journey and DaVinci on a Cheap Joe's porcelain palette.

WHEW! THIS WAS NOT EASY FOR ME TO DO! Even though I write on this blog, writing is not my strong suit. Did I explain each topic well? What could I have done better? Did I forget anything? Could I have used more adjectives?  Could you do this process and keep it to under 250-300 words per title? Yet, more than 150? As you can see I fell short on my word count. I got around 150 words in the description of the process and around 50 for the first two descriptions. I chose the number of words as a guideline. Are those numbers too many or not enough? Is it better to be long winded or brief in your descriptions?

I felt this was a good exercise and might do it again then place a copy in the paintings file.
Click viewers commented and let me know your thoughts.


RH Carpenter said...

I think you did a good job explaining the painting. I also think it's hard for us to explain our paintings - something touches us and we want to explore that so we do it in the way we know - with watercolors :) Congratulations on the win in the show, too!

Carol Blackburn said...

Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your process. I've never painted a watercolor on the easel before I use my drafting table. I'll be doing this when I go plein air this spring or summer so maybe I should try it in the studio. I paint drybrush so there shouldn't be any running.

Gaylynn said...

Rhonda, the win was in 2009. I used this painting because I was comparing my description process like the winners in the magazine. So i wanted to feel like them (hehehe)

Carol, When I was learning in the classroom setting, I too worked on the table either flat or angled slightly. The easel preference stems from when I learned in oil all those years ago. It just feels more comfortable to me. If I was using a wet surface then I could not have the painting upright. I guess that is why I have not mastered the wet into wet method :-)

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Happy Mothers Day ...
I really enjoyed reading this post. I find it so interesting to read about other peoples painting process and you've given me even more to think about.

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