Friday, August 11, 2017
As I was leaving Bailey Island I was struck by the contrasts in the fading light with the fog rolling in after sunset. The water was capturing and reflecting all the light it could, creating striking silhouettes of figures as well as the house.
I've always enjoyed monochrome painting and experimenting with different values. My early reserach into Charles La Salle and his circle of friends and colleagues from the "golden age" of illustration I was struck by their mastery of charcoal. "If a picture doesn't work in black and white - color won't save it." Blunt but accurate I think. Color can mask a bit, but won't hide a weak composition. I also experimented with drybrush technique on this painting. I recieved so much encouragement and advice from the late Bob Harris who was a very successsful illustrator and portraitist. I still can hear his voice and chuckle about him talking about knowing when a painting is done before it is "finished."
I learned quite a bit from this sketch and will do some additional compositional sketches with paint before executing a large scale charcoal and then a finished painting. I've settled on this working method over many years. I quite like it because I enjoy working in different media on different scales and it allows me to combine my love of outdoor painting (Plein Air) with the creative challenges of design and composition. I can also have many subjects going at once in different stages of development.
Sometimes I paint outdoors just to get outdoors - but I may not have a great or interesting subject for a finished painting. However, no matter what , the practice of painting and observing always comes in handy and helps inform future paintings and drawings either through a successful painting or parts thereof or in the experience of learning not to repeat a mistake or series of mistakes.
I'm never stuck in the pattern of start to finish in any set order. Some ideas are simply set aside for further consideration. Sometimes years go by until I revisit a subject. I find it satisfying to have a body of paintings waiting for further develoipment that I can go down into the studio after a long day or on a night when the weather forces me indoors. It helps me work on my favorite painting - my next one.