Monday, April 27, 2009

Hap-Hazard Demo

The documentation is a bit crude, but here is a basic break-down of the steps I go through on a typical painting (I will promise to do this again when the subject matter is larger). From Bottom to Top: 1) If the subject is somewhat complicated (like this one), I will sometimes do a quick sketch into the wet background tone. 2) This is usually where I start on less complicated subject matter (Blocking in basic shapes). 3-5) In this painting, I already had the "shadows"established because of the dark background color, so I started with midtones and moved to highlights- redefining shadows last. 

Nothing revolutionary here- I think the only other sidenotes that I have on how I paint are: I start with a limited palette (and add special colors that cannot be mixed- if it calls for it) Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, Titanium White (Other additions: Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Teal). I feel like I spend a lot of time mixing colors- not just for hue, but for value also. Maybe the speed factor is due to my relative level of inexperience- or maybe this is just the way it is supposed to be?! For me- every painting presents a challenge- even with a system to approaching painting and a limited palette, there is nothing formulaic about painting. Each one evokes an emotion from me while Im painting, has thousands of subtle nuances to accentuate or ignore. It's an energizing & exhaustive experience- You draw inspiration from your peers and the masters, you try to learn something every time you paint.

There were so many hurdles on this painting that had nothing to do with painting! As some of you know- I lost my computer a couple of weeks ago, which had all of my reference photos. I had to put this painting in the freezer until I could get a new one, and retrieve all of my files. Also- I lost all of my applications, so until I can afford to replace them, I am forced to use iPhoto to make color corrections and Preview to save the files down (it doesn't have a Web Safe JPEG option).

Is this helpful? Is this how you work?


-Don said...

Tom, Your description of mixing colors is EXACTLY the way I feel with each painting. I go by feel and emotion and each one is a new adventure. It's like I'm learning over each time. Bummer on the computer. -Don (aka, don_in_vegas)

Tom Pohlman said...

Don! How are you doing?! I am so glad to hear from you. I apologize for not being around ArtCalendar lately- it was just "one more thing" on top of everything else!

Sheila said...

Hey! I didn't see this one before you posted the final painting. I learned a lot and am glad you did this for us. I love your style and its uniqueness in its flow and style of broken color. Thank you Tom!

L.Holm said...

Hi, Tom - Very helpful. I think I need to go back to a limited palette and mix more. I'm far less organized. Completely concur with you're "energizing and exhausting" comment. exactly what painting is like-- a million options and choices even with the simplest of subjects.
Thanks for sharing your steps.
Hope things are smoothing out for you a bit. :-)

r garriott said...

Hi Tom; wow, insult upon injury-- so sorry to hear about your computer going down! Glad to hear you're up and running more or less.

Thanks for posting this demo-- this is entirely different from how I paint, and I know I could learn a lot from your approach.

Nice to see you back.

Douglas Hoover said...

Great to see your work again, Tom. Also, great to see R, Sheila, Liz... And Don! posting on your blog at the same time.

Painting is about feeling and technique. When we come to a point where we forget about technique and let feeling take over... that's a good point to come to...

Carrie Griesemer said...

Thanks so much for posting these progressive photos. I love to see how really good painters do their thing. Especially since I feel lost every time I start a painting. Really nice!

Tom Pohlman said...

I guess I always thought folks approached painting the same fundamental 2 or 3 ways- with slight variations of course. 1) Doing an underpainting/glazing 2) Blocking in shapes/impasto or 3) Some hybrid of 1 & 2.

It is pretty amazing and interesting to see the thousands/millions of different adaptations that spin out of three basic approaches! This has triggered another thought- maybe y'all can share your opinions/observations on...

Environment: My "studio" has never resembled anything much more than a cave! The basement of two homes, the office/computer room of another... bad lighting, stagnant air, it's a wonder anything appears the way intended!

Equipment & Background: When I really started painting with any regularity (June/July of 08') -75% of my brushes and Oils were from college! Since then- they have all been replaced, but I would say 75% of the brushes I use the most frequently are ready to be replaced (which will only happen when I sell a painting)!

Prior to my move to New Mexico- I probably completed less than twenty paintings since college 95' - all of which were gifts for holidays or birthdays.

Emotion: I think it's interesting that you can take a single reference and have different outcomes influenced by your own personal frame of mind- tranquil/harmonious or mad as hell/organized chaos... your color choices, the way paint is applied, the speed at which you work- all depend on your particular human condition. Pretty cool when you think about how different history would be if VanGogh's iconic sunflowers were influenced by Prozac!