Art & Design Magazine

Choices, Choices...

By Ingrid Christensen

Choices, choices...

Chinese Vase
10 x 8

Choices, choices...

Model in Strong Light
10 x 8

 I'll be in Vancouver next week teaching both figurative and still life workshops for the Federation of Canadian Artists.  To get into the mood, I've been working on small pieces in both genres in the studio.
What strikes me each time that I begin a painting is the vast number of choices that it involves.  And each choice made launches the work in a definite direction.  My most confounding decision starts with the support.  Oil primed linen is my usual choice (though I've also got oil paper, velum, aluminum, and gesso primed canvas and panels in the studio), but within that category I've got rough, smooth, and medium textured linen; double primed and single primed; stretched and mounted.  Each will impart a completely different look to the final piece - at least in my eyes - because the way that a mark breaks on each is unique to that surface.
Next is the color of the toning - if I use any.  Sometimes I opt to start on a white surface for the clarity of colours that you get that way, but usually there's a color underneath.  That decision takes a while to make.  Cool under a warm painting?  Warm under warm?  Neutral grey?  What chroma? What value?  You can see the dilemma.
Finally, the color of the subject's first mark is crucial.  Earth toned or prismatic, this mark will direct the painting down a path, and the decision about which path I want it to take gives me pause - sometimes long pause.
Degas said that "painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do", and I concur, but I'd also add that it's richer and more rewarding when you do know how.  You're aware of so many possibilities and, like a chess player, you paint the piece in your head 5 different ways before you even pick up the brush.  But in the act of painting it in your head, you're helping to crystallize your plan for that piece; you're figuring out how you want it to look when it's done and, especially, how you don't want it to look.  That initial planning lets you know if you've been successful when you're done.
So planning and painting in the mind are going to be part of the workshops, but we always move beyond that.  Once these thoughtful starts are on canvas, I'm always dazzled by the directions that the painters take.  No two painters make the same initial choices, and no two paintings look the same at the end.  Regardless of subject, a successful painting is a record of the choices made by an individual on a give day in a specific place.  It can't be replicated, not even by the same painter, because those decisions are as changeable as a person's experiences and moods.  Each painting is unique and hard won, and full of moments of grace, even in passages of struggle.  Difficult?  Yes.  Uplifting?  You bet!
Happy painting!

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • I Still Managed To Shop These In Mauritius!

    Still Managed Shop These Mauritius!

    Travelling to Mauritius? Thinking of what you should buy? Here is a list that SSU contributor Sakshi bought and she has some honest take on Mauritius markets.... Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Shoppingaholic
  • Food Review: Katz’s Delicatessen, New York City

    Katz’s katzenjammer sandwich Katz’s deli in the lower East side of New York comes recommended by most guidebooks and travel websites, and someone we know said... Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Emma
  • Healthy Lunch Salad!

    Healthy Lunch Salad!

    Yesterday, I invented this lovely healthy lunch or dinner. I even eat it like breakfast this morning! So good, So yummy! You can eat it just like this but I wil... Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Sophies Foodie
  • Skincare Empties #8

    Skincare Empties

    Hi All,According to the Instagram polls am posting an empties post first. I am so into powder cleansers that I ended up using two of them both are my favorites. Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Skincarevilla
  • The Most Important Mission Of The Modern Mormon Church

    Most Important Mission Modern Mormon Church

    Previously: A Plea Unto Every Latter-day Saint On the shelf directly behind me is a hefty Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, which I like to browse now and... Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Rockwaterman
  • 6 Ways To Be A Business Leader As Well As A Developer

    Ways Business Leader Well Developer

    Almost every entrepreneur starts their journey by developing a solution, based on their idea of a new technology or required service. These idea and developer... Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Martin Zwilling
  • Salone 2018 & Milan - Impressions

    Salone 2018 Milan Impressions

    A glimpse to the atmosphere and my impressions. Central Station Milan Beautiful details Along with the centuries old architectural beauties it is also the... Read more

    The 22 April 2018 by   Trendoffice