Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finding the vision

Tashafinal sm
I’ve worked on portraits, both human and animal, for many years, but portraits of children are always ones that pose big challenges for me.  Soft curves and often poor lighting in references that are presented are a problem for all portraiture, but more so in children.
I struggled with this child’s portrait for a week or more in oils, and with a deadline looming, switched over the watercolour to ensure that at least it would be dry in time, then I can go back and tackle the oil again at a later date.

I switch back and forth between mediums as it gives a good break and allows me to refresh the skills for that particular medium.  For studies, watercolour is perfect, fresh, loose and quick drying and it insists that I put my drawing into use as the framework.  I have a couple of project ideas in my head and will be working out some ideas for them in watercolour studies.  One involves marbles and I played around with a small study – without drawing I should add, that’s why its wonky! 

marble sm
Today I’ll be working on more studies, video, photographing compositions, etc.  For art to work, often there is a lot of preparation behind the final image that people never see or think about.  From initial idea, thumbnails, drawing, composition, studies, etc. it can take days, if not weeks before a final piece is even sitting on an easel as a blank canvas.

This is where costs come from in art.  Its not a simplistic formula of material and artist painting time.  It is the cost of all of the above.  You pay for a vision and the process to reach that vision is complex.


Rose Welty said...

It is so hard to not overwork children's portraits. They almost require a golfing approach - just a few carefully thought out strokes. You are right about the hard work and prep too. Wasn't it Michelangelo that said if people knew how hard I work, they wouldn't think it was impressive at all.

Jeanette said...

Its very true Rose, less is always more. Knowing when you've reached less and not drifted over into more is the test. :)

Michelangelo was a wise man and very frustrated with some of his work - and patrons - too.

Sue Pownall said...

I'm very bad at planning and rarely do thumbnails etc. I think it's because I usually have a finished image in my head. I'm currently collaborating with authors for story illustrations and I am finding the thumbnail/composition drawings to send to them far harder than the finished piece. (Don't tell but I take the image in my head then do one or two others and hope they don't chose them)

Jeanette said...

Sue, each person approaches it differently. I like to 'think it out' on paper and work out my palette choices in studies to avoid big mistakes in a main piece that then would make me crazy.

Story illustrations are difficult for me, a bit like commissions, finding the balance between artist's vision and commissioner's vision is a fine line sometimes.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

some people find it strange that the only group of people i have never had any complaints about pricing or time it takes to finish something are people that ask for tattoo designs. maybe its because its pretty much permanent, they are willing to wait? :p sometimes i do thumbnails if i only have a rough idea, but usually i just start right away and if the drawing doesn't work, try again :)

Jeanette said...

Tattoos are notoriously pricy, because they are personal and rarely 'off the rack' images. Perhaps that's why people are willing to wait longer and pay more. I don't know why regular commissions seems to often have different standards when it comes to time and price.

Everyone approaches drawings differently. I sometimes jump straight in, but if its a complex piece and I'm not 100% sure of composition or palette, I do studies and thumbnails first to let me work out details.

Katherine Thomas said...

I love this post! But I think that only a handful of artists truly work from their vision of what they want to create and what they want their art to convey. Some of them just think 'pretty picture'. The same goes for viewers. Many of them look for the pretty picture. The right colors. The subject they know. It is the people who see beyond the surface to the story and the message that I want my art to speak to. Keep pursuing your vision in all that you do and you can't go wrong. I admire that you're studying and practicing different things to help you develop and to to be more confident about how to best let your visions come to life. The portrait here is so wonderful! And the marble painting too!