The Artistic Method Continued • Article by Doug Swinton
Having a plan is the essence of getting good results in painting. Once you go through your process of systematic preparation it's time to get your hands dirty. Along with using the 5 Dominances of Painting to help in the choosing of your reference and developing preliminary sketches, there are a few other simple ways to keep your painting on the right track.
Below is a set of 5 rules to keep in mind. As you follow these methods with every painting they will become engrained in your process. Planning out your method this way allows your brain to be free from overthinking and thus allows you to stay in the creative zone.
Strategies to prevent boredom from creeping into your art practice.
People often ask if I get bored painting landscapes all the time, to which I reply, “Yes yes I do!”. But it’s not the subject I get tired of. I get weary with any painting that does’t materialize quickly enough.
I suffer from ADD, an infliction that wasn’t on the radar when I was growing up. Back in those days it was known as the “He’s such a boy” disease. My eldest son has ADD too, which became apparent when he started performing poorly in school. It wasn’t until I started helping him, along with three special service teachers, while reading many books and attending many seminars on the subject, that I noticed they were also describing me...
In the fall of 2015 I drove to Alaska and painted along the way. This expedition was my life long dream - read more here. As far as painting is concerned, the colours there are slightly different and more intense. Below are my field painting notes from this magnificent journey.
Everybody’s creative process is unique to them. Just getting started can be difficult. Facing a blank white sheet of paper or a freshly prepared canvas can be intimidating. Finishing can be just as bad. Then there are all the ups and downs in between. Sometimes creativity is a battle other times it’s a playful game. When we create, we face ourselves. There are many challenges. Creativity means navigating ebbs and flow along the meandering path that is the “artistic method”.
Using dominant & recessive qualities of pigments to your advantage.
Painting is about contrasts. Big against small, thick against thin, bright against dull, light against dark or shadow, bold against quiet, colourful against pastel, etc. These dominant and subordinate relationships are what create tension and interest in a work of art.
Dominant/recessive juxtapositions are throughout your work and extend to your palette. There’s a simple rule to follow that will help - Always add dominant to recessive...
This list is something I have used for many years while outdoor painting but I recently started using it in the studio as well.
To start with, try to finish within two hours (three hours maximum), before the light changes too drastically and you get too deeply invested in the piece and lose judgment. For indoors, it’s good to walk away after a couple of hours for a bit and come back with a fresh eye.
Throughout the course of the painting a little self-critique is a valuable exercise. My father always said; “When you dig yourself into a deep hole, take the time to inspect the quality of your work that got you there in the first place”. Worthy advice. Thus, during the course of the session, especially when close to finishing a painting, pause and ask yourself the following questions:
"There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend."
Bob Ross? The guy that almost every artist loves to make fun of? Not so fast! There is more than a grain of truth in that folksy voice…
“It’s funny to talk to these people…” said Joan Kowalski, the media director of Bob Ross Inc. “…they think they’re the only ones who turn on the show to take a nap.” Bob knew about this. People would come up to him and say, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you’ve been putting me to sleep for 10 years.” He loved it.”
I didn’t nap. I watched. And as I watched, I saw a whole painted world materialize in ½ an hour - mountains, clouds, streams, cabin, bushes and paths. I was mesmerized.
Many factors can cause your painting to look duller than a subway station in December and you may be surprised to know that most of them are not even colour issues. Here is my list of the top reasons why your painting may not be as fresh and dazzling as it could be.