- PLAN AHEAD
Large paintings can take longer to complete, so before embarking on a complicated work, do quick studies in charcoal, pencil or thumbnail oil sketches.
Often we are so excited to start a new painting, that we don’t have patience to plan ahead. But doing so saves time as you won’t have to rework areas and fix major mistake.
Before committing to a final composition, explore variations on your design by doing tonal and color studies in different materials.
Be patient and work through your ideas until you have some concept of how your painting will develop. This allows your ideas to evolve and you don’t just stick to your original thought.
Examples of very precise preparatory drawings can be found in the work of the British painter Euan Uglow:
- CENTER OF INTEREST
If you have trouble staying focused on a long painting , you can try a different approach by building up the center of interest before continuing outward from that point. The painter Lucian Freud usually worked in this way:
- WORK ON MORE THAN ONE PAINTING AT A TIME
Working back and forth on several paintings is an effective way to keep your interest from fading and taking a break allows you to see your work with fresh eyes. Of course, this is also necessary to allow the painting to dry between sessions.
- USE A MIRROR
I must admit that I am totally addicted to viewing my paintings in a mirror. While you are working, your unconscious mind triggers a mechanism in the brain that starts correcting errors, this makes it more difficult to see them objectively. If you place a mirror opposite your work. you will see the image reversed and therefore it will be easier to spot your mistakes.
When I leave my studio I place a mirror facing the door, so when I return the next day, I am “surprised” by the reversed image of my work . This allows me to view it with fresh eyes.
- DON’T OBSESS
Painters often get stuck on a painting and obsess about their mistakes. If you view your work for too long you will lose the ability to judge it objectively. Keep a difficult painting facing the wall or in another room, only bringing it back when you intend to work on it again.
- REVIVING AN IMAGE
To revive a painting after it has dried, sand it down using fine sandpaper, but make sure you remove sanding residue before applying additional coats of paint. Using a fine brush re-draw the image, without staying within your original lines.
In addition to correcting mistakes this approach can re-invigorate the painting, opening it up for further work.
Question: Do you have additional tips for keeping focused ?