I just wrote about I have to take a break from the fiddly work resulting from painting all those small details in my endless, circular river picture. And I have started a new picture, from where I grew up. A sea house, after a photo I took one winter night.
Now, I also have another project in mind, which isn’t a painting project, but one which includes the shaping of clay. Yeah, I want to make a clay figure. Some time. A figure that is painting, so I figured, I need a small canvas and easel. I could make it in clay, of course, but … I bought it instead.
Of course, such a small canvas requires painting small details. Which is fiddly work, right?
Good thing I’m taking a break from doing the fiddly work then. Except … well, it’s just such a tiny little canvas, it can’t take that much time to paint it. So I did. I spent quite a while to figure out what to paint, but ended up painting a miniature of the one I’m currently painting on a large canvas, just in summertime.
It was a fun, little project. Sure, I could spend more time on it and get the details even better, but this was more for fun than anything else. Besides, I can buy more of those canvases without ruining myself, and the paint expenses should be manageable, too.
I wanted to paint a special landscape motive, inspired by M.C. Escher’s “Waterfall” – as told in an earlier post. At that time I had figured out roughly how the landscape should be, to achieve the needed optical illusion. This was harder than expected, so it took time. Some changes to the layout have happened after that, but now I’m happier with it. It’s mostly the smaller details that are left now. Details like forests, villages, farms and such.
This is fiddly work. Fiddly work takes time!
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.
Ford Prefect, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Another thing I mentioned later, in my Summertime-post, is my lack of activity on that painting. Or painting at all, technically. Of course, I’ve started painting again now, as the previous post clearly indicates. I’ve just taken a break from the fiddly work, needed something else to concentrate on. Still, I’ve done something.
The geography is now in order, it’s “just” the details that have to be added. Bit by bit. I’ll be working on it now and then, just to not get bored by the fiddly bits. In the meantime, I have a few other paintings of various sizes that need to take priority.
It’s time to paint again – and to finish the painting. And today I’ve done both. Judging from the ime I used, around five hours total actively painting, I think I do get somewhat better at it. I probably spent more time figuring out what to paint.
And, what did I decide to paint? The title of this post gives a hint, but you’ve probably already seen the painting below.
Quite a watery picture, with the splashing waves. Personally, I’m happy with the result. Just need to add my signature.
Sometimes, you just have to test something, either because it’s a new, unknown product, or because you want to try something new. Recently, I made a quick little painting, just as a quick little test. And as such, I didn’t care much about getting the right proportions and stuff like that.
So, I took my sketch block, made a quick and dirty sketch – on the cover – and started painting.
OK, so I painted on the cover of my sketch block. Big deal. What’s that got to do with testing something new, or unknown?
Well, I did mention in an earlier post, about the various acrylic mediums I bought, and there was at least one of them I just had to test, to see how it worked. And did it work like I hoped, and mentioned in that earlier post? Eagerly, I brought the sketch block with me to a little, dark room to see …
It was partly successful! It’s glowing in the dark, but I must admit: I had hoped it would take on a bit of the colour I had mixed in, but it didn’t. It glowed green.
Well, come to think of it, the test itself was 100% successful. It didn’t give me the results I hoped for, but now I see what it does, and I can take that into consideration when thinking of other projects where it can be used. Some ideas are already entering my thought train. Let’s see what station they leave at.
I guess we all have seen various optical illusions; drawings that can be seen as two different things at the same time, images where the shapes also seem to hide or form other figures, geometrical constructs where the angles seem to be OK, but at the same time are completely impossible.
One well-known artist of the impossible geometry is the Dutch Maurits Cornelis Escher. Way more can be said of him and his art than I will do, other than that he serves as the inspiration for one of my paintings in progress.
The image I’m thinking of is “Waterfall” – impossible geometry where the water flows down in an aqueduct all the way, and ends up in a water all down into the beginning of the same aqueduct. All the action takes place in a limited space, and it’s easy to see how it’s done. But in my mind, I was playing with the idea of taking the same principle and transfer it into nature, making a believable picture, despite the water flowing downwards all the time, in a circuit with several waterfalls. Would it be possible?
I had a rough idea, sketched it on paper, just as rough, and decided that yes, it would be possible. Then I had to decide if I should make a more detailed sketch, using photos and stitch together something in Photoshop, or just start painting, with that rough sketch as my starting point. I went for the latter option, as the rest would have me spend way too long time before I could start painting at all.
It started out nice and quick. I blocked in the colours for the first shapes; sky, mountains, water, ground. Added some more details after I decided where the light should come from. Made the river flow from the lake in the distance towards a lake in the foreground, with some waterfalls on the way to make it obvious. Then the time came for me to make the river flow back, down from the current low point to the starting high point …
OK. It’s easy enough to make the river flow downwards, but it should also look natural. I spent some time thinking of this. It started getting hard …
As it is still a work in progress, I’m not finished. By far.I’ve blocked in the main colours, so I see the shapes and things are getting clearer. There’s still a lot of details that need to be painted though, but there is one thing that’s getting very clear to me: I was overly optimistic about the time I would use on it. There’s more thinking to do than expected, to make it look convincing. So much that it has been hard to sit down and do some actual painting. There are other pictures I want to try, too, so maybe I’ll just start that before I finish this one. Luckily, that’s very much allowed. Getting my spirits high on painting something that doesn’t require this much thought can only be of the positive, and it’ll make it easier to start on this one again. I hope.
Sounds like I’m trying to convince myself here, but in any case, I’ll have to get some painting done again, and show it.
As you know, if you’ve read previous posts, I paint. I’m not a fast painter, but I paint. Hopefully, with practice I will get enough experience to be able to paint both faster and more often. And of course, better. That usually follows practice. 😉
Anyway, I’ve finished another painting now. Unless I at some point have a close look at it and decide to do more with it – but as for now, it’s finished: The watermill.
I’ve started learning to paint with acrylics. Classes one evening per week, for ten weeks. How successful will I be, and how good will I become? No idea. It’ll take a lot longer than the ten weeks before I’m really satisfied with what I manage to do, and I can say this with the knowledge that the nine first evenings are over. So there’ll be much painting after the course is over too.
But of course, that’s what I intended anyway; learn how to paint, so that I have a new hoppy to spend some time on. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to paint as much outside of the classes as I hoped, due to Real Life TM being filled with not only fun stuff. But I’m not complaining – I’m having fun with painting.
A grey box
The first evening was a test to see what we could do: A simple motive in black and white. Or rather, various grey tones.
The lesson here was for us to learn how to mix black and white to make the various needed grey tones, get the right perspective on the box, and actually paint it. Our teacher could then see where the different of us needed help, which varied a lot: Some had painted before, others not at all.
Homework after this was to find a picture we’d like to paint. Abstract or naturalistic, that was up to us.
My first “real” acrylic painting
I found a lot of potential pictures before I settled for a photo of an old building partly in ruins.
So I primed the canvas with a dirty ochre colour, so that a bright white canvas won’t fool the eyes and make it harder to get the correct colour values, outlined the motive with a coloured pencil, and started painting.
It is quite a bit more detailed than the simple, grey box, so it should come as no surprise that it took longer than one evening. The picture I show here is after for or five evenings (plus a bit at home) – but there are still a few details I want to change a bit before I get it as I want. However, I thought it was finished enough for me to start another picture.
That picture is still unfinished, and not one I’d like to show here right now. Someday I will though. A fantasy motive with a castle and a flying dragon in the moonlight.