My Butt-Kicking Painting Challenge

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The Pier at Crescent II. Acrylic. 18×36
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
The Pier at Crescent II. Acrylic. 18×36
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
The Pier At Crescent II – Close Up
The Pier at Crescent II - Close Up
The Pier at Crescent II – Close Up

This painting was done in record time. Twelve days!! (I made a chart to track my hours which you can view/print/download here) After struggling with what to paint next and my “artistic vision” I decided to challenge myself and paint the same picture again. The thing is is that the last painting I posted “The Pier At Crescent” was really awesome technically compared to a lot of my other paintings (I’m not bragging), but I did not really enjoy painting it. It was looonnngg and very tedious and I wanted to scribble all over it with a sharpie at times. I forced myself to finish one section before I started the next (the pier before the sky, for example) and it felt as if all these separate pieces were being patched together. It seemed forced. And although it got a great response I couldn’t help but think that wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my creative career. But when I look back at the paintings where I just did whatever I wanted and was all fruity the end product wasn’t necessarily that aesthetically appealing.

So I decided to repeat the subject matter in order to force myself to focus on technique. It’s easy to get caught up in a new picture and not ever really improve your style. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of how the last painting turned out, but to me it just feels…stationary. I want my paintings to feel alive when you look at them, like you can almost see them moving.

Because this canvas was a different shape I knew that I would have to put more emphasis on the clouds since they took up so much of the painting. I kept trying to paint what I thought clouds should look like and where I thought they should be placed but it wasn’t working. Then I saw this painting titled “Night Drive” by Diana Willard:

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Night Drive by Diana Willard

It inspired me that the clouds didn’t look like clouds per se. But they give motion to the painting and make it interesting. I then tried just making random marks (I even closed my eyes for a bit!) which eventually morphed into sky and clouds. It really helped to free me to realize that a mark you make might look like nothing or even look weird on its own, but as a whole, it works.

One other thing I tried on this painting that really helped me out was doing a monochromatic underpainting to help me map out the lights and darks.

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Monochromatic Underpainting

I think typically they are done in black and white, but for whatever reason I did it in purple. It was great because I ended up letting some of it show through the final layer and it really complemented the blues in the sky and water.

Last thing I’d like say is that I am finally forcing myself to settle down. I am going to endeavour to create a cohesive body of work that is all one style and similar subject matter (by “body of work” I mean 20+ paintings). The painting I have just started is another view of Crescent Pier and I will probably do one more after that. I then hope to do several paintings from photos I took at White Rock Beach after that storm that happened a couple weeks ago.

It is exciting to me that I am finally in the place mentally where I feel I can commit to a project of this size instead of wishy-washally going to and fro with each painting. I am choosing a direction and you can hold me accountable. I am determined.

6 thoughts on “My Butt-Kicking Painting Challenge

  1. I love this painting, it’s beautiful!

    Monochromatic underpainting are super useful. I’ve also found them very helpful to figure out the painting’s composition, darks and lights before diving into color and detail and such.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ruth your hard work and commitment to your passion is inspiring! I’m excited to see the next set of paintings. You’ve really honed your skill 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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