A Clear Direction Yields Superior Painting Results

My painting plan devised yesterday worked like a charm. It may be second nature for most artists to have a clear direction before they put brush to canvas or pencil to paper and maybe I have even mentioned something like this before, but I feel it is worth stating again, if only to remind myself. Besides, repetition is a direct path to memorization.

I went through my plan checklist on my last post which organized my thoughts about my subject and dispelled any anxious thoughts about needing to accomplish a good painting. More than anything the review was a bit meditative and provided clarity of purpose.

a clear direction before starting a painting even yields better drawing

I worked methodically on each stage of the small painting. Even in the drawing phase, as see below, I was working hard to render the subject accurately even though I knew that all of the careful drawing would be covered by paint.
At this point I was also thinking about composition. I erased this drawing twice before I ended up with a placement of the lamp that I liked. I think it took me almost an hour to just do the drawing. But the plan and clear direction I had at the start made me comfortable with not even finishing this work, as long as each stage was well done.

The Painting Setup

the setup of my hotel painting, a clear direction makes a difference

My painting setup was less that ideal. The room was dark because I had to close the curtains to cut out much of the ambient sunlight coming through the window and I didn’t have any direct light on my painting as I worked. Regardless, I was able to soldier on and work through the dimness.

Later in the painting, after about two hours of working I found my focus began to drift and I started to hurry through. There was a bit of excitement here to get the painting done, I was close to the finish line and I knew that it was going well. I guess I wanted to hurry to the end and collect my prize of a well don painting. So I had to force myself to read a quote by Richard Schmid.

Stroke per stroke, suppress the urge to speed up… Getting things right is always more important than finishing a painting.

That being said I could have done better with the rendering of the curtains, maybe if I had taken more breaks during the painting. It never hurts to pause for a bit and come back to the work with fresh eyes.

The Painting Subject

the subject I chose to paint before my clear direction checklist

Is Having a Clear Direction Before Painting Enough?

I sometimes get the feeling that my subject is too mundane. Heck, most of what I paint and draw is mundane, and in most cases I flaunt this quality. But there is always this fear that creeps in of what the public will think. I envision people saying “It’s just a lamp” or “It’s just a paper ball”…

Is a painting not worth pondering if it’s devoid of grandiose subject matter? I don’t see how that could be true. There are many masterful and historically important works out there that consist of nothing more than detritus. What if the rest of my life I painted nothing but mundane objects? Would I be remembered? Does it matter?

Session Details