Back in this January post I began my adventure in trying to paint a rougher sea for the first time - trying to capture more threatening moods in the sky, more crashing waves, but with my usual soft minimal look. My preliminary sketches were more freeform, and the canvas itself has been more exploratory. Unlike most of my paintings I decided to just dive into this one and see what happened, allow myself experimentation.
It all started well. Some dark layers, bringing tones and composition upwards, over the eye-line of the viewer. At an early point I liked the underpainting so much and felt I wanted to capture some of it in the early stage for "light" lines to indicate, perhaps, foam on the waves. So I put down masking tape that I could glaze over and remove later to bring back those elements.
Painting, painting, darkening, lightening the crashing waves, and got stuck. But of course there's that very misleading tape that actually isn't an indication of what's underneath - distracting me from what the whole looks like. So I removed it to reveal... well, something interesting. Interesting isn't necessarily a good thing!
So now I'm really frustrated. I have to keep reminded myself that this canvas is meant to be an experiment, but it's all to easy to get caught on in the drive to "finish" something after so many hours of investment.
- Composition. I've said it to myself, on my blog and probably on Watermarks too - composition is the number one thing that cannot be overlooked. If I don't sketch, don't think about a composition it's inevitable that the painting 90% of the time doesn't work and has to be recovered with a new stage of composition. Yet foolishly thought that I could ignore it in the name of creativity.
- Working on pieces and not the whole. Yes, we all fall in love with parts of our pictures - little passages of wonderful colour or brushwork. But it is at the peril of neglecting the whole, the balance, how the picture works as a single effect. I was taught to always work on the whole - not do an object then fill in the background for example - progress on one part, then go work on another part to the same degree. Step back and look. The masking tape in this painting misled me and I should have planned more (error 1) and kept better awareness of the tones and colours underneath.