Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Discipline of Art

No, wait, this is not a repeat of  last week's blog.  Last week I wrote about needing discipline to follow a career or serious hobby in art. This week, I'm writing about the need to be disciplined in how and what you do with your medium and your paintings.   I always keep discipline in mind when I'm making decisions about my paintings.

SIMPLICITY   Even in a complex painting, I want to make sure that my subject, my center of interest, stands out from the background.  One way to do this is to keep things simple.  I keep the background to what I need to set the scene and learn to understand how much detail is great texture that adds  richness to the piece, and how much detail produces "Busy".   In this Mountain Guide and Mule painting, "DID SOMEONE SAY COFFEE?",  I focused on making the pair of them the thing that you see and stay with.  There is lots of detail in the man and the mule, so I had to restrain myself with the background.    The background is there  to enhance them, not swamp them.

                                            " Did Someone Say Coffee?"             watercolour

COMPLETION    There are times when I just want to finish a painting, call it done, and offer it for sale.  But that's not a great idea.  Not only would I feel I'd be cheating the buyer, I'd be cheating myself, and at these times, I have to find the discipline to keep going, keep making the colours richer, deeper. Sometimes, I want to splash around colour, just because I'm caught up with the magic of  the image and I want to keep adding something new.  But I try to  restrict myself to only those few colours that are going to make the painting "speak", and to keep adding the appropriate colors until the painting truly is finished, not set aside because I'm tired of it.

                                         'MOONSHADOW'                                   watercolour
COMPLEXITY    Even when a painting is very complex, I need a sense of order to make it flow.  I need the discipline to create a pattern that leads the eye, makes sense, and is interesting and clear to the viewer.  Even in a very complex, detailed painting, the eye needs a place to rest if you want people to enjoy looking at your painting for the long haul.

In ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL, (watercolour) I was very careful that one image led into another, that there were little surprises to discover, and that there was some clear space to rest the eye now and then.  It took a long time to choose the animals for this one, and to put them together so they made some sort of sense.  It was hard work, but great fun!

In 'PATCHES OF SPRING',  (watercolour) there is actually a lot going on, so I kept everything simple.  The trees, the patches of snow and grass, the old leaves, the clouds, the "patches" on the horses, and the grouping of the horses themselves could produce eyestrain if not carefully handled, so I thought about every step, and only used about half of what I could have.  I think the result is fresh, exciting, and yet has a sense of calm, much like a lovely day in early Spring.

So all the while I'm being Creative, expressing myself, and letting the artist in me flow, I am also conscious of the need for discipline in what I'm doing.  It's kind of like riding two different minded horses at once. Are we having fun yet? :0

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