Another small painting (9″x7″). One session of about 45 minutes. This is a favourite subject for me. I am reminded of when the children were small and loved to picnic in the woods. A scene from memory and imagination. I can still hear their shrieks of laughter when I look at the painting.
The colours are Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue and Sap Green. Plus one speck of Cadmium Red for the child’s clothing. The brushes were bristle, No.4 Round, No.6 Flat and No.8 Filbert. The medium – Liquin only and a little White Spirits.
As usual I have recorded the painting process and will post in the near future. An interesting point about this painting is the composition. As a ‘rule of thumb’ the artist is advised to place the centre of interest on the one-third line. This is indeed far more pleasing than a centrally placed painting but is boring if not disguised. In this composition I have indeed placed the centre of interest on the one-third line, but the tree on the right looks as if it should have been there, on the other side of the painting. The tree on the left ‘balances’ this. The eye travels on a path past the foreground trees to the picnic, following the children and can leave through the apparent break in the undergrowth. Also, there is an ‘oval frame’ formed by these two trees which is quite invisible until its pointed out. In other words, there is a ‘skeleton’ of shapes disguised in the erratic blobs of paint which binds the whole together and functioning at a subconscious level.
Another point. To me, at least, the scene is quite real in spite of the aforementioned ‘blobs’. I was listening to an ‘magic realism’ artist criticising an impressionist painting because the brush strokes were visible. Something along the lines of “it doesn’t look right – whoever saw brush strokes in the sky”. Isn’t it magic when the apparent chaos of paint marks (the hand of the artist) disappear and a world we recognise emerges! But it requires practice and when it finally happens in a painting its nothing short of shocking. In an age of technology which allows an ‘apparent painting’ to be produced by a machine, the ‘hand of the artist’ is important. As a commercial graphic artist and designer I’m very familiar with this technology and let me assure you, erratic paint blobs are a welcome sight.
In previous posts I talk about the painter being comfortable with the craft of applying the paint and what to do to help in this. Above all, it takes practice. If the painter is totally absorbed and struggling with mixing paints the other aspects of producing an interesting painting won’t happen. Paint in a way you learn, by remembering what you did. A small number of colours, the same painting surface, the same brushes, medium etc. Every painting will be a step on the ladder.