Created in a few minutes.
I woke this morning so eager to paint that I literally raced to my studio. My poor dog ,Bailey is waiting for his walk but unusually I just had to paint first. Just for a few minutes to get something, an unknown energy, out of my system. I decided to paint anything, in fact I decided to paint the first thing that I saw. Regardless of what it was. As I walked through the kitchen in our cottage I picked up a vase of dying sunflowers and meant to throw them out on my way to my studio. But as I looked at the lowering head of the sunflower I was carrying I realised this was in fact " The first thing that I saw".
I carried it to my studio and as I had left a large scrap of paper on my easel I could paint straight away. I set myself a challenge of creating a colourful impression of this flower within a few minutes, if that. After that time I made myself stop to see the colour patterns intermingling as the colour dries.
This was a great wake up exercise!
I am now desperate to paint a serious painting of a sunflower but will it be as fresh and loose as this one , when my brain is thinking about what I am painting and I am not meeting a challenge? We will see.
The goal of a set challenge like this is to get the brain working quickly. A time limit stops us over working. A time limit also makes us paint what is important to make a subject recognisable, but without all the fussy detail we have no time to add. I was lucky as yellow is a great energising colour to start the day with when painting.
Here is the real sunflower next to my quick painting.
Loose and free, colours intermingling. Lots of movement in my brushwork.
I loved observing the real flower for information on what colour to add where in this quick study.
The stem was formed by encouraging a flow of colour from the painted flower
What was the goal of this exercise?
I will not be framing this study but I do love it. It has made me want to paint sunflowers and I will now take a large piece of clean paper to do just that. I will try to keep the freedom and spontaneity of my quick challenge piece in my new work. I will try to avoid overworking. In my new piece I may experiment with yellow shades to get a closer match of colour to the real flower. I may paint a row of sunflowers. Or a whole field of sunflowers. Maybe I could use the field of sunflowers exercise wash from my latest book " Paint Yourself Calm" as a background to a full composition using my wash techniques from it to bring a foreground flower to life. There is so much I can do from this one small warm up exercise. This was a very valuable five minutes of my time. I learned so much just from a set challenge. As an artist I have stretched myself. I did not walk into my studio and paint what I know. I walked into my studio not knowing what was about to happen and there in lies the execitement of the day. I have already done something wonderful. The rest of my day can only get better. And even if the result had been a disaster I would not have wasted my time. I would have learned what didn't work and why. Which is even more valuable to an artist. We cannot paint successful paintings if we don't know where we can go wrong.
A loose , free, impressionistic study of a sunflower
So how about , you set yourself a challenge. How about you paint the first thing you see after reading this blog post with a five minute time limit. Stop painting when your subject is recognisable. You too may find you end up with new subject ideas for many more paintings.
1) Set a time limit to a small challenge each day to help you stop overworking.
2) Experiment with your brushwork to bring energy and life into your paintings
3) Make quick decisions on where to add colour and just see what happens when you do!
4) Be brave!