Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Study, Study, Study...

I nearly forgot how enjoyable and instructive it is to do quick studies...or maybe that's instructive...then enjoyable. I've gotten so busy with my larger paintings that I really neglected to make time to do these quick studies. Even though I might have "deadlines" for the larger, finished works, they still offer more latitude as far as time spent on a particular subject. For these small studies I generally only allow myself an hour to execute it from start to finish and on occasion an additional half hour.

The biggest difference for me is that I have to anesthetize my obsessiveness in how I execute the painting. Like drawing straight off with pen and ink, placement and all other decisions have to be made on the run, so to speak, and the clock is ticking. I often find that by depriving myself of the luxury of pondering a decision, I generally make the right (or at least suitable)placement of the pen or brush, stroke or color. The exercise tend to be an affirmation of the skills that I have developed but don't trust enough, sort of a tested in combat approach. I generally come away with both a more appreciative attitude towards my actual skills and a healthy dose of humility as to where I actually am versus where I feel I need to be. It's a very worthwhile exercise.

What I do find humorous about these exercises are my mental states during the process. They correspond to the states that I go through with larger finished paintings but the time span is greatly compressed. I first (in this case) put the live set-up together and light it...squeeze out the colors I've decided on the palette, choose my brush(s), mentally frame the setup on the canvas, and put the first brush marks on the canvas...and then look at the clock and panic, wondering what in the world I was thinking when I chose this particular subject matter and assuring myself that I will now be seriously reminded as to the foolishness of this endeavor. Then I go to work like a madman, alternately making decisions and decrying the reality that the minutes are ticking away at an unnatural rate and that there is not nearly enough time to complete the process, let alone do a decent job. Then the allotted time invariably ends and the piece is finished. Sometimes I'm amazed, sometime dismayed, but always satisfied with the exercise. If I'm dismayed I "vainly" plan out how it will go next time as I assess my folly. Of course, if I'm amazed, I "vainly" go look for some laurels to rest on. In either case, study and practice are the order of the day.

I'm pleased with the result of the most recent hour and a half study period..."Frog and Cruet with Pomegranate", 11x14" acrylic on canvas, (Donated to the Paso Robles Art Association for a fund raiser, and now in a private collection.) More work at . Send inquiries to