I often work on a painting and build up way too much paint. At the end of the days work I want to get some of that off, but leave as much of the image intact as I can, to work on tomorrow. Here's how I do that.
I tear a page from an old phone book I keep for this purpose. I don't know about your house, but around here they seem to pile up. Every few months another mysteriously appears on our stoop. I lay the page onto the surface of the painting, and flatten it out with the my palm. I then pull the paper away lifting off most of the excess paint like so............
I rubbed the paper into the wet paint pretty firmly, so it removed a lot of the paint. Still, it left enough of my work visible and undamaged so that I can see the drawing and continue on its fresh surface tomorrow, when I take another run at it. It is possible to remove less paint by just placing the page onto the painting and removing it. Some of the detail will inevitably be lost in the process, for me, that is not such a problem. Because I have painted the passage once before, doing it again happens very quickly.
Because I have painted for so long, I can paint very quickly if I know what I want a passage to look like. Knowing what it ought to look like is the hard part. Not knowing what the painting should look like is the source of most of my painting problems, not the actual manipulation of the paint.
On another subject...I taught a workshop last weekend and at one point I sat on the open tail gate of a truck and talked to them about painting. I spoke on a number of things, but the thing I was most hesitant to tell them, they actually took rather well. That is, "Those of you who are struggling out here, are all doing it for the same reason, your drawing ability is not sufficient to carry you through the problems presented by the landscape. I felt kind of bad about saying it. This is not a small problem I pointed out to them.
That has started me thinking, how do I suggest they learn. I am a lot more useful to them if I offer a solution after I point out a problem. The short easy answer that I could give would be, there are lots of small teaching ateliers scattered around that can teach you to draw well enough to deal with the difficulties of drawing the landscape. I had one atelier trained painter in the workshop, and he was fully able to handle the drawing. There were also a few students who, though a level below that one fellow, were able to make sense of the landscape before them. Their drawing was not as elegant and confident but they were able to get the picture on the canvas and get things in their proper proportions and relationships to one another. I questioned them a little bit. One had done a number of highly finished still life paintings, and the other was in a weekly sketch group that met to draw the figure, another had just painted a lot outside.
Many people are not in a place in their life where they can just drop everything and attend a full time atelier. They have mortgages, families, and jobs. I have begun asking myself, how can they get themselves trained well enough in drawing to confidently place a landscape on the canvas? My guess is that still life painting and figure groups are the answer. I will continue to mull this over and I will address this again.
I haven't written a whole lot about drawing in this blog. It seems like the format of a blog lends itself well to some things, like discussing ideas and design. Drawing is ideally taught by a master correcting a students drawings. I don't know how I could do that in a blog, but I'm working on it.