|Carl Peters, Crossing the Bridge|
The blog is morphing into more of a magazine. It used to be an encyclopedia, but I feel like I have laid out the basic information I set out to record. I seem to be writing "articles" rather than entries now. I am getting very close to a thousand posts. The whole thing has been stream of consciousness anyway, and stumbles along with no particular system or order. It is all very homemade. Do you think this blog would look better with more commas? Some day it will all get edited and put out on Betamax.
I intend to do a series of brief posts each limited to an idea to keep in mind when painting outside. Tonight's idea is previsualization.
When you start a painting outside, the greatest predictor of success is previsualization.
That is, if you have a clear picture of what the painting is going to look like finished, when you start, you are most likely to "win" that day. Usually the best paintings are those where you proceed directly to your result. The painting will look fresher and less labored that way. Also, time is often short on location, and time spent reworking or struggling with a passage is subtracted from your end result.
It is seldom enough to set up your easel and say "that looks good, I will paint that". Almost no view is perfect, and even if it were, to make art and not just transcription it is desirable to have a "treatment" in mind. At the very least you need to have an idea of how you are going to deal with the gremlins that pop up when a picture gets rolling. Look at the scene and ask yourself "what out there is going to bite me?" Try to think of solutions to the problems before you even touch the canvas. If you can envision what the finished picture looks like, really close your eyes and see it, you may spot those gremlins and also the opportunities for design, color and handling before you.
I have been painting outside for almost forty years, almost all of my pictures are "professional", adequately observed and rendered. But some are lots better than others, the weaker ones are simply "matter of fact", that is, they look like the place, alright, but they are not interesting, much less poetic. So for me previsualization is usually "what am I going to do to this thing to make it look cool?"
IT IS NOT WHAT IT IS A PICTURE OF, BUT HOW IT IS A PICTURE OF, THAT IS IMPORTANT!
That would make a great neck tattoo wouldn't it?
|A Carl Peters from Alterman galleries|
So don't just dive in and start painting, a little up front contemplation may save you a lot of worry later. Close your eyes and imagine what the painting will look like finished. Try to imagine every part of it and every passage as it will be in your finished work. This is a developed skill. Most people think more in words than pictures, and you will probably imagine yourself having a much clearer idea of the finished picture than you actually do. Happens to me all the time.
Sometimes I will imagine a clock face on the surface of the canvas and then go around the hours and ask myself "what goes here? what goes there?
The highest form of previsualization is a thumbnail sketch, more about those tomorrow.