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Avoid Painting detail

You want your painting to be loose and Impressionistic but find yourself fiddling and painting detail. There are several ways to avoid getting too involved with the detail in a painting whether you are working from a photograph or from a live subject such as a landscape or still life. One of the easiest ways to avoid any detail in your art work is to have your own critic as Sir Winston Churchill did. Lady Churchill would take the painting away when she thought it was finished. Not all of us have the luxury of having somebody who is able to make that decision for us so we have to rely on our own judgement and to rely on a method such as stopping and leaving the painting for an hour then coming back to it with a critical eye.

If you are working from a photograph as a lot of us do at some time there are a number of methods and techniques you can use to avoid painting the detail you might normally see. One is to make a sketch of the photograph. Make the sketch any size but not less than twice the size of the photograph itself. Do not spend too long on the sketch, roughly 10 to 15 minutes. It might be a good idea to do several sketches so you get different results. This will help you capture the essence of the photograph. Next you can do two things, either use the photograph as a reference or just to work from you sketch and not use the photograph in any way. Another way to avoid the detail in a photograph is to use image editing software on a computer. There is the Gaussian Blur tool which lets you adjust how blurred the image looks. Alternatively you could increase the size of the image by 200 - 300 percent. This will make the image fuzzy, commonly know as pixelation. The edges of objects in the photograph will have jagged edges reducing the detail you see.

If you are painting direct from your subject you use the same sort of method as working from a photograph, make a sketch and work from that and use the sunject as a reference. Or you can just paint blind without any reference to the object or scene. Another method is to lay in the main part of the painting such as the light, tone and some colour as a reference. Whilst you are doing this observe what you see so you can remeber as much as possible and then finish the painting without looking at the object or subject again. Once you are happy with what you have done have another look at your subject and see if there is anything you might want to add to help the composition but only pick out one or two points and don't spend more than 10 - 15 minutes doing this or you might be tempted to start fiddling.

Another method you can use to keep your painting loose is to give your self a time limit. Apply this method when painting from a photograph or life. Keep in mind the size of the painting, medium and subject. Avoid giving youself too much time though. The drawing of the subject should be included in the time allowed for the painting.

Which ever way you work try to do as much from memory and inspiration. Bare in mind what inspired you to start the painting in the first place. Remember the phrase " Less is more". Each of these methods and techniques to avoid painting any detail can be used with all mediums.

Other tips to bare in mind and to try is working wet in wet. This is easily done with Oils and Watercolours. Acrylics can be a bit more difficult but but there is a retarding medium that will slow down the drying process. If you are apprehensive because you feel that you are wasting materials then buy cheap student quality paints and paint on any thing at hand. Even old melamine boards that have been sanded to give a key are handy to work on. Some £ shops sell small canvases at, yes you guessed it a £1. Another technique to make you painting loose and impressionistic is to use the largest brush possible. Stay with this size brush as long as possible and only use brushes larger than size 6. Don't be tempted to use a smaller brush even if you have to add a touch of paint to help add contrast. Remember that there is always the possibility of a happy accident. You can combine the techniques of blurring a photograph and then making a sketch from this. If you are taking a photograph where you have to focus the lens then why not make the photograph slightly out of focus?
When making a sketch it might be a good idea to make some notes such as Turner used to. Turner jotted down abbreviations for different colours in the area that the colour would be on his sketch.

Always bare in mind the idea of a loose or Impressionistic painting is to capture the atmosphere and ambience of the moment, not to record what is seen for posterity


Copy right

The images on this website are the sole copy write of the artist and author . The images cannot be reproduced in any shape or form without the permission and consent of the artist and Author , ( Peter G. Morffew ) . If you wish to reproduced any of these images contact me by E mail , giving the title of the painting and the intended use .