Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Going With Your First Reaction

Upon arriving at a painting location yesterday, I looked to my right and found a perfectly acceptable subject:  a yacht club near a little harbored lagoon.  But as I looked back over my shoulder to the left, I looked at the bridge over the Apalachicola River .  I loved its curve and the color of the cement pilings.  The blue sky and the warm pilings were also appealing.

Still, I thought I should go for the more conventional subject.  But while I was setting up my easel, I kept looking over at the bridge and the river.  Just before I started to paint the yacht club, I decided to go with my first gut instinct.  I turned the easel 180 degrees and lightly sketched the shape of the bridge with a small brush and some diluted yellow ochre.  Here is the result.

Two thoughts: first, you'll probably have more fun if you're invested in the subject.  Taking the easier subject might have produced a perfectly acceptable painting, but I knew I wouldn't have been invested in the outcome.

Second, if you can name why the subject appeals to you, you're halfway finished.  In this case, I knew it was the lovely curve of the downward sloping bridge and the play of warm against cool colors.  Rather than say, I'm going to paint the bridge, say, I'm going to paint the way the shadows fall on the bridge and the play of light and contrasting colors.

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