Sunday, August 4, 2013

Can you see the difference?

Many artists will agree that if you want to have a successful work, you have to plan carefully. If you were painting a landscape for instance, you would select a location or scene, and then carefully consider how to frame that scene on your canvas. You would sketch variations considering whether to paint a horizontal or vertical piece; what elements to include or omit; how to use value (light and dark) or hue (cool or warm) and intensity (neutral or bright). You might do studies until they are completely satisfied with your decisions.

The Collective, 40 x 27, pastel on
archival paper, © Tom Weinkle
What does a planned painting look like? At left is The Collective, which I painted a few years ago, based on a visit to New Harbor, Maine. Before pastel touched paper, I spent a good deal of time deciding on how to frame the composition.

While the painting appears fairly fresh and loose, the actual process was quite structured. The technique for applying the pastel in this painting is what makes gives the painting its liveliness. The idea itself was quite planned.

The Pair, 18 x 12, pastel on
archival paper, © Tom Weinkle
On the other hand, painting by mood means you leave the idea of planning behind. It is similar to the act of writing poetry, where you are guided by an idea, in the moment. The Pair, was painted on location here in South Florida. It is really a study, and it was painted without any sketch, blockout or preconceived idea. The painting was actually done on a recycled Wallis board, where I had washed off an older painting from an earlier trip to New Mexico.

I think there is a feeling in this piece, that can only come from working this way. We can be critical about details, and improve various formal aspects of the results. At the same time, my goal was to see what would happen if I just painted in the moment.

One thing I would like to make clear. I am not suggesting that artists should stop planning. There are clearly trade-offs, one of which is that you'll fail more without a plan than with. At the same time, I think we can find a useful balance, that can add qualities to our work that transcend the ordinary.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Tom! I added a link to this on my Art Journal blog today.