Sunday, August 12, 2012

Making a Plan

I've started reading a book called "Painting Better Landscapes" by Margaret Kessler and right off I knew I was in trouble.  The book begins as soon as page 14 talking about a plan...You are supposed to have a VALUE PLAN.  Ms. Kessler states," Planning the values in your sketchbook is probably the most neglected aspect of the painting process.  I cannot overemphasize its importance."  I guess that says it pretty clearly.

Sketching out my plan with pencil or charcoal is something I have never done up to this point.  I just start a new piece by covering the canvas with paint and then painting, excuse me for using the old saying, "by the seat of my pants".  I was keenly aware that on my first painting lesson, that while we didn't grab a pencil, my teacher, Lily Adamczyk had me block out all the main areas of my painting using a neutral colored paint.  She quickly planned which trees we wanted to emphasize and which ones were in the wrong place in my photo. When I actually started painting, I had a plan.  Of course it was Lily's plan because at this point, I'm still very much lost in the transition between using acrylic to oil and trying to understand Lily's approach and techniques.  Let me show you what I mean...

Here is what my masterpiece looked like at the end of my first two hour lesson.

The Initial Plan
Blocking out the colors of the background and the foreground

Working from Top to Bottom, Back to front

  Ms. Kessler lists on page 8 of her book the five progressive steps to construct a painting:
  1. Visualize the idea
  2. Composing the idea (blueprint)
  3. Establishing the values (foundation)
  4. Blocking the color harmony (framework)
  5. Refind the details (finishing)
On the same page, Ms. Kessler also addresses the importance of developing your own style by stating a very simple but powerful truth.  "As long as you are following someone else's lead, you will always be behind."

So today, I'm digging out those very neglected sketching pencils, overused kneadable eraser and grabbing one of the many empty sketchbooks that are in my studio so that I can begin to discipline myself to MAKE A PLAN first, before I ever grab a canvas or pick up a brush.

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