New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Illustrating the process

My paintings for the last few years have been from imagination and dreams. Reality is only a starting point-- if that. Because this is a blog intended to encourage creativity, I thought I would show the thinking behind how I work. I am not a professional artist but rather one who uses art for her own growth as a person. The process, for me even with oil painting, is not really so different except with an oil when I get somewhere I like, I quit. With the computer I know I can save that stage as one solution and work on without risk of destroying it all.

For this one, the theme I had in mind was someone searching for direction. Going through my files, I found a personal photo from several years ago to use as a starting point. For me, a photograph provides only grounding. I am not a landscape or portrait painter and don't try to duplicate locations where I have been or what I have photographed. My goal with anything I paint is to capture emotions with the objects in the paintings only vehicles.

To start, I chose a size that would roughly duplicate the proportions in the photo, sketched in the ocean, roughed in the sky, headland, and then began making changes. I wanted a woman with long, graying hair, didn't want a bulky coat, wanted a black dress, and wanted her arms bare.

As I finished, I saw a solid gray sky added nothing to the painting. It was too big of an element to write off. I played with clouds, wind directions, added dark spots, took them out, and came to the point where a bit of blue sky along with the lighthouse, represented the hope for which the woman was looking.

Critically looking at it again, it seemed this painting was supposed to be about a woman but she had no energy-- just a blob. And how come, if there were stormy seas, there was no breeze to blow her hair a bit? If she wore a dress, I'd at least have a more interesting shape.

The advantage of doing such a work on the computer is there is no problem to change 'canvas' size. I have done that with actual stretched canvas boards by cutting them down when the original composition didn't work, but the only way to increase dimensions relative to the figure, is to scrape it away, and then shrink the figure. With the computer, there is another option. I chose a new dimension, copy pasted my original work into it and began to build sand, ocean and a black skirt.

That looked better but it now seemed the sky had lost power by not being large enough. She is looking toward it for answers, shouldn't it have more importance? I resized again, copy pasted the work onto its new space, and began building sky with more ocean and sand to keep it all in proportion.

About that time, I couldn't remember ever being at the shore without birds all around-- so a few distant birds had to be added.

One thing with computer art, any of these changes are easy to try. When this is done on canvas, purer work or not, you would be painting the same thing 5 times to get to the same eventual place. and maybe ruining much along the way with changes that didn't work. I know of painters who do paint the same subject again and again. I have never done that because of the feeling of wasting canvases, not to mention where do I store them? I don't like reworking the same canvas as it seems the energy underneath works against the new idea.

Just when I thought this piece was finished, I had another idea. I wanted to see the woman's legs and feet; so she could wade in the surf. I never go to the beach without some wading. A couple of sea birds came next. I understood then why the black dress had been important-- my subconscious had been ahead of me. The woman was to be one with the birds-- 'Woman and Gulls' was the last version.

I ended up with two poems and if I eventually paint this in oils (which is where I had been thinking this was heading), I think 'Woman and Gulls' is the one I'd choose, but the one just before it, 'Looking for Answers' seems strong with a different message. In the past I have done drawings, color notes, and worked from them. That works better when it's a portrait, landscape or still life. When it's an idea, I have been discovering the computer is a very creative place to work it out-- where the process is as important as the product.

6 comments:

Mary Lou said...

I am so envious of anyone who can draw, paint or sculpt. I am NOT an artist of any kind!

And you did this on your COMPUTER?
Wow! Rain you are so talented, and seeing the process as you went along was wonderful.

robin andrea said...

I love how you documented the changes. It's really quite beautiful to see. The evolution of ideas produced quite lovely images.

Dick said...

I agree, this is a neat illustration of how an artist can develop a piece of work and to see it done on a computer is great. You are very talented.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Absolutely fascinating--your process. Like Mary Lou, I'm not an artist except for the SoulCollage pieces that I do--and I have a series where women are seen from behind. I hope you do put this into oils.

Parapluie said...

I love this painting and the way you did it. I want to share your process with some artists who are down on computer generated art.I cannot imagine sustaining the same connection and energy you had in developing the painting if you copy this in oil precisely. But there might be new development by using oil. For example if the figure was in three quarter view and the facial expression was more important, small changes in attitude might be more easy to adjust in oils. "Might be" I say because the results would be very much dependent on individual strengths.

Sandy said...

I love them both, similiar but SO different. I also really like what you titled both, both very fitting. I hope that you do paint this in oils, both of them!