Monday, June 06, 2011

Trying to Simplify


Last week I took a creative vacation while trying to decide what kind of artwork I wanted to make. Quilts or paintings or what?
Finally I asked myself what I wanted to own. I mean, did I want another quilt or still life to sell? Nope. What I wanted is to work larger again, and get looser, and make a painting I could hang on the empty space in my own dining room. Not too much to ask...except I am trying to learn how to paint more simply, with confidence, and making each brushstroke say what I want say. So I must start like a beginner, since this isn't my natural way to paint.
I found a couple of  landscape artists who work as I wish to work and for my homework I painted three paintings today, copying just one artist's style.  All are about 8", which of course is small, and are oil on canvas. But I didn't want to dive into the deep end just yet. I have to work my way up to the size I want my paintings to become.
I did the second painting twice when I realized my version was too dull.
The idea was not to diddle around with including too many details, just to put the paint down once, without going back over and over it, refining and 'fixing' it too much. Sigh. This sounds easier than it is.
It got better by #3. Still this is merely day one, and I feel like I have a long way to go.
We can tell this is a landscape, but can't really say where it is or what it is...except number one has water and sky in it...I guess.


  1. I really like the space division on the 2nd piece. Sky is smaller piece, land is larger. The 3rd one is leaning toward half sky half land.

    Love the way you have simplified in all three. Good value range.

  2. I like these alot, Melody... great colors with simple shapes only suggesting a landscape. yum.

  3. Number 1 reminds me of driving along through the glacial plateaus of the Norway Fjords. I like it.

  4. I really like all three of them.

  5. I love the top two. I think they are simple and perfect!

  6. Wow I love the water in the first and your technique. The third reminds me of a meadow.

  7. oh my gosh, Melody - let me tell you something funny!

    Before I even read the text, I showed Beloved Spouse (BSP) and said "Look this woman, Melody I was talking about [I had just spoken about your Heat n'Bond advice] paints too - aren't they beautiful?"

    And we talked about the lake and landscape in the first painting, the farm lands in the second and the village in the third.

    And then I read your text.

    So much for not "being anything"!

  8. Who is the artist that inspired you? I like the colors and what you made. I certainly understand that struggle. I do the same thing. I still have not learned when to quit! I look forward to what you will share next.

  9. I like number one best. I can "feel" the water in it. I can't really explain that, but for me the water exists.
    Maybe I just like it because of the water.

    I will say that while I really like the colors in the last one, the scene is divided too exactly across the horizon (middle of the "page")

  10. I'm liking 3....I'm sure because of the colors that are so "you". I can't wait to see where this leads!
    I signed up for an on-line watercolor course. I love the artists style bit it's so hard to get "loose"!

  11. I think you're making great progress at painting loosely, Melody! #3 is much more interesting than #1.

    I struggle with the same thing in quilt making: trying to work loosely while still portraying a realistic item or scene.

  12. These are fantastic; I like different aspects of all three. The looseness allows the freedom to imagine whatever the viewer likes in the scenes.

  13. Heck, I wish I had half the ability you do! I've tried painting but I make a fab knitter and even quilter in comparison... One day I'll have another few shots at it, see how I go.
    I am a total sucker for water and reflections, and number one hits my button!

  14. I bet this morning when you look at them again - from a distance - they are even better than you first thought. We artists can be our own harshest critics!

  15. 1000Pines8:21 AM

    I so connect with your comment about not fiddling with it - just putting the paint down and trying to get it to say what you want it to say. I'm working on that too - with quilts and maybe someday again with paints

  16. I have to weigh in and say that #1 is my favorite.

  17. Zieknits9:21 AM

    Another vote for #1.

    It's very loose, but definitely water and land. I prefer paintings to give some clues as to subject matter. Or maybe I mean I prefer when there is actual subject matter! LOL!

    Best of luck with your new painting adventure. Go big, soon! It's a whole 'nother feeling than working small.

  18. I was drawn in my #1. But, that said, I love what you are doing. That takes some work to allow ourselves the freedom to do less--that sounds so easy, but letting us in on your process is a great lesson. Thank you.

  19. #1...too structured (if loose is what you're aiming for).

    #2...pretty, but too loose (can't quite get a "feel" for what it is). the added touches of red, but still too loose and structured at the same time (does that make sense?) you were trying too hard to be loose.

    Just MHO...which means nothing. You're the artist, not me :)

  20. I really like these simple abstractions (although that is pretty much what my work is all about). I might be inspired by a realistic picture but I don't aim to make it recognizable as a particular place or even a place at all.

    I like all three of these but especially the second one, which is the one I think you believe to be "dull". I think it is subtle.

    Who is the artist that inspired you?

  21. Hi Melody
    I also like the 1st one best, but 'so what?' I guess. I think it is because green is such a difficult colour to 'get' and I like the fact that the 1st one didn't jar with me. It is also moodier in feel so can appeal on an emotional level.
    Karen x

  22. Really like this new direction. Keep going!!!

  23. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Hi, re your hydrangeas, the mineral deposits from the fish pond sludge have changed the pH acid/alkali balance of the soil and hyds are nature's litmus papers, only in reverse, so I'm guessing the oxidisation has acidified the soil... funnily enough,I am a painter not a scientist,but I think everyone has got over to you how lovely your 'warm up' exercises are in their own right! So I'll only add, well done on sharing your process for painting too,I get so many textile artists thinking painting is all inspiration not perspiration! It's totally possible to cross media and you do it beautifully and give inspiration to so many, keep on sharing for the less brave!
    Pretty Thrifty

  24. Peg Howard7:48 PM

    Gosh what a fun new direction to watch you go in...You are trying for loose- but all your brush strokes to me say structured decisive. I am thinking that your definite up and down stroke work screams out to me so tight and deliberate--If you are fighting loose so much have you thought of loose exercises in just one direction--horizontal or vertical---then once you have pleased your self with that move on--- just my 1/2 cent....not a canvas artist- but I did sleep at a holiday inn a month ago...

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