It is time for another Great Painting Giveaway! It has been two years since my last one and this time it's even better! An oil painting valued at R2600.00 plus two watercolour paintings must be won.
View more details here!
The other day, while working on a new demo for my membership site Loosen Up Your Painting, I could not help recalling a scene from the first Shrek movie (also the best one by the way). I recall watching the movie many times with my boys. They could not get enough of that movie at the time. You probably recall the famous analogy that Shrek refers to when trying to convince Donkey that ogres are complex creatures.
Ogres have layers! Like onions. Shrek tries to explain to the none-too-bright Donkey. Yes, I thought, many good things are made up of complex layers. Just like oil paintings. (light-bulb!) Of course any painting can have layers. But I feel that no medium offers this quality better than oil paint.
The viewer also gets a sensory pleasure from the complex play of colour, shapes and textures across the painting's surface. There are also many "happy accidents" caused by colours mixing with other colours as you lay the paint on.
Of course this is a technique that needs some practice. But rest assured that the rewards far outweigh the skinny approach. This technique is also referred to as painting fat-over-lean. Due to the first paint layer being slightly thinned by various mediums such as spirits or oils. Then the thicker unthinned paint is layered over the top.
Since thin paint dries quicker than thick paint always ensure that you follow this sequence to avoid cracking of upper layers. Paintings can be built up with many layers this way. However it is best to let a thick layer settle over a few days before the next layer to avoid mixing into lower levels. A variation of brush technique must also be used to safeguard underlayers.
Drag the brush parallel to the canvas to spread the paint on. A painting knife may also help you achieve this result. If you have completed an oil painting in this way with really thick paint you will have to give the painting longer than usual to dry before varnishing. A lot depends on your paint and the weather, but it could mean weeks to months. Proceed with caution.
So here is the challenge: If you are tired of flat, tight looking paintings you need to try out the thick paint approach. Worried about working in oils? Practice in acrylics. Or even paint the first layer in acrylics and go over this with oils. But try it and keep experimenting. You have nothing to lose except lifeless paintings.
And be sure to check out Loosen Up Your Painting for everything to do with expressive painting.
Wow! What a wonderful response to my previous article about how to paint with a loose style. It is also heartening to hear from many artists who appreciate the expressive nature of representational paintings. This loose style also resonates with collectors, which is good news for those who want to sell their work. But what is the key to painting loose?
The loose or painterly style is not easy. Let us get that out of the way right now. It is tough to make the change and there are good reasons for this.
How to charge up your confidence level?
Why is it difficult to give your artistic self freedom to create?
This quote from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach sums it up perfectly:
"Many of us have unconsciously erected seemingly insurmountable barriers to protect ourselves from failing or succeeding. We may think we're protecting ourselves by ignoring or denying our creative impulses, but really all we're doing is burying our authentic selves alive. "
Once these barriers are overcome your inner artist will be free to create. Your life will never be the same again. The fear of trying something new will disappear. The fear of painting something that, at first, looks amateurish will also be gone. Each step will be seen as merely another stage in the process.
I must add that once you recognise these self-made barriers they can be easily removed. After all they are most often imagined barriers. Change your thoughts - change your reality. Start right now.
If you recognise these confidence issues in yourself I would suggest the following. Get a pen and a private notebook and write a letter to yourself. Nothing fancy, but simply begin to write.
Writing has a way of detoxing the soul. It is not to be underestimated!
Finally - paint, Paint, PAINT!
With energy, drive and power. Big canvas, big brush and slap that paint on like you have a new lease on life. I find that a large painting knife is very satisfying as you make swooping paint shapes. Of course great music helps to spur on the moment. Keep this painting as your personal testament to the empowered artist set free. A reminder of who you really are.
A parting thought. Action is better than simply thinking about something. When you recognise your thoughts crowding in you must do something physical to snap out of the negative thought cycle. Pick up your brush and begin.
There are many painting styles to suit every personality type. You could spend a lifetime learning them and still not touch them all. Perhaps the central theme I hear most though is: "How can I get that loose look. I want to relax and loosen up more." I never hear anyone saying that they want to tighten up their painting. I guess this also covers the emotional need to relax and unwind as well as paint in a free manner.
Now talking about loose painting styles is one thing. But to make a real change means practice. Plenty of it. Also feedback is important. The loose or painterly style is a massive change if you have been a tight, detail oriented painter. Others may think you have lost the plot when you show them your new approach. So getting feedback from artists who know what you are trying to achieve can be difficult to find.
With all of this in mind I began working on a course, but still there is a need for artists to get together and share their views and efforts. So I recently launched a website called Loosen Up Your Painting. The idea is to:
You can become a member of the site for FREE. Founding members will always be able to have free membership. The main idea is participation that will help you develop the looser style you want.
So enough from me. Please click on the button below and check out the website for yourself. The first lesson for August 2016 is up. Plus your first challenge. I hope to see you there!
This mystery has been confounding many people for years. Perhaps you have wondered this yourself. No? Well I have searched for an answer. Then it came to me in a flash of enlightenment this morning. Or maybe it was the caffeine kick. Whatever. I am going to draw back the curtain on this conundrum once and for all.
I have been in search of a great cup of coffee for many years. True. At great cost I might add. Once upon a time, as a student, I tolerated instant coffee. Today students drink Starbucks. The brats!
Then the drip-drip coffee machine became popular. You know the type American cops have at the station? With a glass carafe that is always filled with hot, black and tasteless water. Nuff said.
Then as I grew older and had a bit of money to throw about I tried the French press. This is a silly invention that does not develop your pecs. It does give you bits of coffee grounds in your cup though. Annoying.
I moved onto the stove top espresso thing. That metal pot. It has so many parts that screw together that you feel like Jason Bourne assembling a sniper rifle. It did make a strong cuppa-joe. But too little and the risk of burning was high.
Then I threw caution to the wind and purchased an automatic espresso machine. A contraption that worked under pressure. But never enough it seemed. Also the milk frother "wand" was useless. Unless you liked listening to lots of splutters and wheezing noises. But your milk remained cold and unmoved.
The machine made passable espresso for exactly twelve months. Thereafter the warranty expired and so did the machine. It needed more maintenance than an Alfa Romeo. Which is a lot. So I lost money on that experiment.
Then George Clooney convinced me to try a Nespresso pod machine. What the hell I thought. How bad could it be? Actually the coffee was rather good. It worked. We had reasonable espresso and it was quick. But then we ran out of pods.
Ordering pods from the official online store was murder on the wallet. You had to order a thousand (or so it seemed) sleeves of pods at ruinous expense. So we tried generic pods that were allegedly compatible. They were not. Results were spotty. I lost my patience!
Finally I stumbled upon the Aeropress. A simple device that involved some exercise and plenty of OCD fiddling. I liked it a lot. The coffee was strong and good. Cleaning up was a breeze and running costs low. Reliability was excellent. Only snag was that portions were still a little small for two people. But the hope of simplicity had arrived.
Then like a ray of light caressing my soul I found the Chemex coffee system. A glass device that is part chemistry kit and part work of art. It is in fact exhibited as art at the MOMA. It also makes a wonderful cup of coffee. Even in large amounts, if desired.
It seems that pouring hot water allover freshly ground coffee beans makes the difference. Plus filtering the coffee adds something unique. This is nothing like the drip-drip filter system.
I must emphasise that grinding good coffee beans just before brewing is essential. I recommend the Severin coffee grinder for this.
There it is. The best coffee comes from simple low tech means. The key is simplicity.
This brings me to painting.
The best paintings come from simplicity. Simplifying shapes. Simple use of values and color. Simple and strong composition. What you leave out is often more important than what you put in. Keep it simple and results are often better than expected.
If your painting does not work out ask yourself if you could simplify it further. Chances are you will get to the essence of your subject this way. If not I suggest brewing a good cup of coffee and reading a nice book. This too shall pass.