Throughout art history, artists in addition to their main body of work, have completed smaller works, sketches, compositional studies etc and many of these are complete works of art in their own right.
With that in mind, I’ve started doing some small 5″x7″ landscape paintings in acrylic on Arches watercolor paper and have found them very enjoyable to do. They’re sort of like warm up exercises for my artistic mind. They get me thinking about design on a small format and if I like the design well enough some of these works may become the basis for larger studio paintings. Even though they’re more impressionistic than my normal style, I find I like the departure.
The first is a scene that I captured with my camera in what I like to call drive by shooting. This is generally when it’s not convenient or safe to pull over. Therefore, while my wife was driving I was scanning the roadside along a pretty stretch of highway and saw this scene and clicked my camera. The foreground was in light and the middle distance in shadow. I intensified the effect and added more color, but it captures my intent of focusing on the light in the foreground which to me is the subject of this small painting. It’s rather fun, doing these drive by camera shootings, because I never know exactly how it’s going to turn out or if it’s going to be one big blur! But so far, despite the blurriness of some photos, they turn out pretty good.
This is another camera “drive by shooting” of a scene in Arizona. Very dry and hot, but had it’s own beauty in creating a somewhat triadic color scheme of blue violet in the distance dull orange and red orange and yellow green in the foreground and middle distance.
The scene below is from an area near Fredericksburg, TX that I had visited on other occasions and provided source material for other paintings. This particular day had cows and this particular day, I didn’t feel like painting them. So by way of the brush I sent them off to another area to graze.
Breaking out of the routine is a good way to spark your creativity.
The number one way of enjoying an art museum or gallery is actually going to one. Another way is to take some art classes before going. Why?
When you go to a museum or art gallery, how do you look at the art work? Do you see just a painted image or are you able to see beyond the image? Are you able to discern the techniques involved and how they were applied?
This brings me to the idea of how an art class can help you gain a heightened awareness when looking at artwork thus increasing your enjoyment of it. With an art class you learn about painting techniques, composition and mixing colors to name a few. Thus when you look at art work you will likely discern some of the techniques that the artist employed. Did the artist use transparent glazes, impasto, unique brush or palette knife work or a pleasing color scheme? When you know or understand some of these artistic techniques, you will never look at art the same way again. You’ll be able to see beyond the image and understand a little about the creative process.
In addition to or in lieu of taking an art class, check out some books on painting techniques or if your community has an art club. Often these clubs host artists who give painting demonstrations and many are free! If you like you can also visit my learn to oil paint page which will also give you some ideas.