Fast and furious is fun
Have you ever tried to paint fast? I don't mean just a little bit fast, but really fast--maybe even furiously fast.
How fast do you paint?
I think most people paint too slowly, worrying over accuracy that's difficult to attain and detail that doesn't matter. What's worse, when the painting is complete, they just keep fiddling with it. There must be something in an artist's DNA that says a painting can't be art unless it takes hours to complete.
If you've never done a painting in under 15 minutes, you haven't lived. Here's a project to force you to climb out of that rut you're in.
- Use a small canvas or sheet of paper--no larger than 8" x 10".
- Use a the biggest brush you have--flat or round.
- Set a goal of five minutes. If that makes you too nervous, you may increase the time to 10 or 15 minutes. But you won't have as much fun.
- Choose a subject--any subject! It can be a photo or something from real life. It does not matter.
- Stare at the subject for a few seconds and decide what's important. Don't think for a second that the answer is "Everything."
- Stare for a minute or so longer and decide what you can eliminate from the painting. Hints: Leave out anything that's confusing, too small to identify, doesn't add to the painting, or distracts from the subject.
- Say aloud the following magic words: "I'm going to emphasize the subject and de-emphasize everything else." Yes, it's OK to talk out loud to yourself. You're an artist!
- Think for a few seconds about value. Divide the subject into three values--light, midtone, and dark. Decide what to paint first.
- Don't reach for a pencil. You won't be doing any drawing.
Procedure for five-minute painting:
- Look at your watch and begin painting as fast as you can. At the halfway point, your center of interest should be a large shape that dominates the painting. If it's not there, you've already lost the battle.
- Spend the next minute slapping in the background--fast and furious. No time for detail.
- For the remaining minute or so, add some detail and definition to the subject. Time's up.
If you try this from time to time, you will produce some works that are better than you normally paint. And some will be worse. But all will be more interesting, exciting, and creative than those tired, old, nit-picking paintings that you just can't let go.
My own experience
Some of my best paintings have been done in well under an hour--sometimes in just a few minutes. The picture shown below, Lakewood Shack, was done in under 15 minutes.
Copyright James H. Stephens
All rights reserved
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