For those of you not following my story, here it is. As an artist, I decided to take on a year long project. I’m titling it My Secret Garden Series. Reason being, I’ve slowly deduced over many months and years that I have a great love of nature, gardening, animals, the mystical, the symbolic, color and fabric design. How could I wrap them all into one project? I came up with the concept of a secret garden where nothing has to necessarily be real. I could use my imagination.
For the past decade I have been painting still lives and landscapes based on real life. So this is a big leap for me. I’m “making stuff up”. The challenge is that the options are limitless. I’m staring at a blank piece of paper. What animals will I choose? What flowers? What architecture is in the background? Can I find a way to incorporate patterns? What’s the story behind the image?
The answer is I don’t know. So I am slowing down and taking the time to answer the questions.
I like to paint large. Generally no smaller than 24 x 36 inches. This is because with watercolor, it allows each subject some space for me to really play with the water and paint. You get more of those “happy accidents”. So another challenge for me is that I am creating small thumbnail paintings. My first painting attempts were 8×10 inches and now my second attempts are even smaller, 5×7 inches. I could just do a ton of fast sketches in a sketchbook, but instead, I am taking my time, thinking things through and completing each little painting start to finish.
My thought is that it may be fun to sell them on Etsy when I’m done. The other idea I love is that they are telling a story. With each attempt, I can see my thoughts and the changes occurring which will eventually lead me to my final paintings. I’m creating a history.
OK. With all that out of the way, let’s start talking about my new secret garden studies and the changes I have made from the initial studies. The picture below has my new sketch on the top and the initial sketch down below.
I had absolutely no idea what to draw initially, so what came out – is what came out. But after analyzing my original painting I thought to myself Mailboxes? That isn’t too mysterious or secret-garden like. I need to change the background.
For my second attempt I was very focused on changing the background. And so I did. What I see though, is in focusing so hard on changing that, I completely forgot about the garden part. So when I attempt a third round of sketches, I would like to have way more wild-life and vegetation and not so much focus on the “where”. I feel like I got really “tight” in the second renderings, so I also need to focus in on loosening up my style for the third time around.
I wanted to address my self-critiquing.
I hear from a lot of people that it makes them feel uncomfortable. I guess the feeling is that I am being hard on myself and not appreciating the good that has come from my hands? The word would be self-deprecation. I just wanted to argue this is not my intention. In art school we’d start every session over-analyzing each other’s work. Artists thankfully are not robots, so nothing is perfect. Considerations about line, composition, color and style are vital to improvement. If my vase is lop-sided and that’s not on purpose, I’d thank some one for telling me. Some days you just don’t see it.
Anyways, the reason I am blogging about my own analysis is not to throw a pity-party. I want to share my thought process. There are a hundred thoughts. A hundred considerations. Each artist comes at art making with different perspectives. I’m simply trying to push myself harder and further. You’d expect that from an athlete, so let it be ok for an artist too. (It’s OK. I’m pretty tough. I can take it ;)
For the next few days I will post my second attempts. So stay tuned… Thanks!
Critique head at the ready. I understand totally what your expressing. My journey is similar. I can paint but struggling with the style. That something jiggling inside my head that I can imagine but can’t get physically onto paper. Keep going.