Saturday, April 05, 2014

Painting Loose

Firstly, this will be a discussion on painting Loose and Loosening up. For the sake of discussion let me clarify these two terms which at times are used interchangeably while I consider them as referring to two different issues.

Painting loose refers to the act of painting i.e the physical effort (standing, positioning your easel/drawing board, location, making strokes) , the hardware i.e type and size of brush, support/paper, palette, paint, masking fluid etc.,the technique applied.

Loosening up relates to the painter. A major factor or actor playing a leading role. Mainly: the mental state of the painter, tendency to a certain approach in composition or color choice, preference (love of) of a given subject. Attitude. Smile

"Tips for painting loose" will sound like : Give yourself a time limit, paint quickly, "use a ridiculously long brush" among others. And there lies the pinch. That painterly loose painting we strive for is: "the sum of all parts". No amount of or any particular tip will give us that result. But each does the process.

Give yourself a time limit, paint quickly.

Let's ask why? Won't that result in random and uncontrolled strokes? Anything done haphazardly cannot masquerade as spontaneity, which is what we are after. Spontaneous strokes appear dynamic and suffused with energy. Fewer strokes preserve freshness and bring out the transparency of pigments. Randomness will appear sloppy. Makes sense, but with speed accuracy is affected. We should not take speed literally.

What is implied: the painter can only achieve speed if he/she can do it with confidence. Confidence meaning that the stroke is visualized and executed at the spot it is intended and look the way it is visualized, and having the effect desired, the painter. And the painter knows he/she can do it. For the simple reason that he/she has done it more times than they care to remember.

Exercise...practice...booooring. Sian Dudley's "Dictionary of marks" was one of the earlier vids on AT. For a reason Smile It is the FIRST in my favorites folder.

Now that sweeping slashing brush stroke is driven by the painters belief in being able to pull it off. That is a big step towards "looseness". Most likely "tight painting" is a result of being tidy and a commitment to precision. That was how I started out and watercolor was the toughest medium to try to do it that way. Mind you wonderful results can come out of it, often with a high degree of realism, however it won't be "loose". At times it appears "documentary", done "by the book" . But not the kind "you can't put down".

Making a sketch is one of the first steps to get a feel for the composition. Once paint is put to paper the lines become only indicators, beacons as it were and it is here that a precise carefully made stroke will lose against that spontaneous slashing stroke delegating accuracy to nether levels Smile Trading it off for speed but gaining "character". Much like the character lines on my face LOL.

Joseph Sbukvic in one of his videos used the term "...and so, once more into the valley of death", he was putting finishing touches that would "finish" the painting. In the sense: make or break it. It’s been hardwired in my brain ever since. I'll close this comment by summing up that we need to work on confidence in handling brush and paint so we can make the stroke we want, when we want and know where to put it.

Jen (aka Jaka)

Jen, thanks for this article on painting loose.  I hope other AT members will contribute articles of their choice in the future. 
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Danielle (aka dbeaulieu)

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