Detail...of the detail! Copyright 2013 Linda Shantz
Observation. It's something we artists do a lot of, and are hopefully good at. I do a lot of it with the horses too. While on the one hand that's for the sheer entertainment value, it's vital to their care, in my opinion. Because I spend so much time watching my horses, I'm pretty good at spotting when one is a little bit off. And with horses, sometimes catching something early can mean the difference between resolving it on the farm or a trip to the clinic; life, or death. It's also very important when mares get close to foaling time. Being familiar with the nuances usually allows one to pinpoint foaling to a timeframe of at least hours, instead of days. Well, that and listening to one's gut!
I have a few works in progress around right now. I was excited by the prospect of this one of Gracie and Maria when I first took the photos last year, but as I started working on it, I began to have my doubts that it would turn out the way I was hoping! For one, it's been a while since I've worked on a large Raphael linen panel, and it usually takes a couple of layers of paint before things start going the way I want, because I paint in a series of thin layers for my more detailed work. I put it away for a couple of weeks, but pulled it out a few days ago.
First thing I'll do it just look at it - okay, while I'd like to say that's to assess the progress, mostly it's just me procrastinating/tackling paralysis/wanting to throw things at the easel/planning a bonfire. Once I overcome that hurdle, mix up some fresh paint and actually pick up a brush, the more productive observation begins. Laying down tone, comparing it to what's next to it, deciding if it needs to be lighter or darker. Looking at the shapes, comparing them to the photo, stepping back to see if it makes sense at a distance. Now that I'm into this stage, I'm feeling better about the painting. It's starting to come together. I love anatomy, so seeing it start to take shape provides some satisfaction!
This painting is fairly large, 24 x 36, and sometimes progress seems agonizingly slow. This week was just a reminder to take the time, really look, and focus my far-too-easily-distracted brain! Hopefully next report will be of the finished underpainting!
Very early stages. What have I gotten myself into?