Above is a Pissarro courtesy of the artrenewal.org.
I have posted this Pissarro because it is an example of an impressionist piece that has a good degree of finish. it isn't tightened until all the life is gone out of it, but it is all well thought out and resolved. There isn't any passage that doesn't work. It contains no errors. Every bit of a painting has to be right.
A GOOD PAINTING SHOULD CONTAIN NO ERRORS.
I finish my paintings in the studio. If the outside work has gone well, the inside part is pretty easy. Sometimes I bring home a painting that isn't worth putting any more effort into as it is just never going to be any good. That happens. My father was an eye doctor. Every morning when he got to work, he knew how to be an eye doctor. It wasn't as if some days he showed up at the clinic and had no idea what he was doing. That's not the case with me, some days I get killed out there. You'd think I would know how to do it every day. But I don't.
Usually though, I return to my studio with a painting that needs to be finished. I am going to try to explain what I do over the next few posts. I have shown my process on the blog before, but I hope I can figure out how to tell you how I do it.
Often I bring home a painting that has a lot right about it, but it is what I call, a "picture with a problem". That is almost always a design problem. I look at it for a while and decide if there is a way I can fix it. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn't. It may be that an element in the painting is unnecessary, or there is a problem with the way the viewer is directed through the painting, or the painting doesn't balance well. Often I can fix those things.
I tend to paint in a lower key. Working in a lower key gives me the ability to use my pigments more nearly as they come off the palette. Every drop of white you use is a drop of color you don't.
When it works I get rich color. When it doesn't, my paintings are darker than the inside of a cow. When these paintings arrive in the studio it is often easy to bang some lights into them. I will return to this idea in a later post.
The most common problem is that the painting is well enough drawn and looks like where I have painted. But it isn't interesting. There are lots of paintings in this world. The world doesn't need another average one. Because I have painted so many years, pretty much everything I do is professional in quality, but that doesn't mean they are good art. Sometimes these paintings can be made more interesting. I might add contrast, or increase the power and color of the light. I might add a sunset or eight tiny reindeer. Whatever it takes. However a lot of paintings with this problem get culled.
Culling paintings is good, it is integrity. You should be throwing art away, at least if you are an outdoor impressionist painter. The academic guys can avoid this by doing lots of studies and throwing the worst of those away before making a painting. If you think everything you do is good, you aren't reaching to be better. Its over. Get a straight job. Go dig a hole in your back yard and pull the dirt in on top of yourself.
See you tomorrow.