I’d hoped to use that title when I sold my first painting – bless my humble cotton socks – but no.
Instead the ‘it’ that was bound to happen eventually was being an over-confident ass and paying the price for it [insert pained look of anguish here].
Here’s what happened: Meet my deliciously dinged-up watering can:
If you’ve been following my progress (today might not be selling it to you), you’ll notice I deviated from my last few paintings in that I used a grey canvas, and did my under-painting in Alizarin Crimson instead of Burnt Umber.
At 18 x 18″ (45 x 45cm) it’s also much larger than anything I’ve ever painted. Except my house.
My thinking was: ‘I need a square format to work on and oh, look! A huge canvas I prepared months ago – before I discovered that I don’t love working on stretched canvases, or using dark, cool grey backgrounds for tricky compositions. But I do need a square format, and this one’s ready to go… how bad can it be?‘
Clearly, I survived the drawing stage of things. But when it came time to putting paint on canvas I was in for some nasty surprises…
I set about painting the gardening fork with its rustic, timber handle.
Thinking I’d try something new (because I hadn’t done enough of that already), I pre-mixed every tint and shade of colour I’d need for it and began enthusiastically slapping my paint down. (This is something I’ll try again, by the way, but under vastly different conditions.)
To my utter confusion, the paint on my canvas did not look anything like the paint on my palette. A warm, mid-grey shadow emerged as an insipid beige… I was completely thrown. I persisted for a while before concluding that this was something to be tackled by daylight and I cursed that stupid grey background and all its colour perception trickery.
The following day I tackled matters head-on: I was going to cover up that grey background and give myself a fighting chance of pulling this whole painting-a-watering-can caper off.
There were moments I felt positively… well, positive that this could all end well. But I was making some pretty rookie mistakes with my colour mixing and the larger surface area was that bit more time-consuming and brain-draining to get through.
I guess there’s a simple (but so easily over-looked) rule in the ‘paint small, paint often’ mantra, and that is to… (wait for it…) PAINT SMALL.
That said, I think the larger format certainly aided my looser brushwork – and that’s a win.
There were flashes of brilliance (which turned out to be my poor studio lighting shining in my eyes), and – as always – things that I learned, but when I put in my background shadow, I knew I was a goner.
I actually think it’s more to do with the shape of the shadow and that awkward corner it’s all sitting in that’s messing with my head… If I tackle it again, I’ll be changing that up for sure.
Needless to say, if there’s any astute and experienced painters out there: I’d welcome your feedback. The rest of you: Stay tuned for a humbler, simpler, smaller painting next post.
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