Monday, June 13, 2011

Creativity, Spontaneity, and Planning--Starting a Beach Painting

My regular readers (bless you, one and all!) know that I am a planner. Too a fault! Even in my creative endeavors, I plan. Previous posts have described my usual painting process (if you are interested, enter "painting process" as a search term in the box in the upper left corner of this blog). However, I know planning and taking care with things can be overdone--especially in projects like making a painting. You will chuckle to hear that this week, I am "working on spontaneity".
Since the flurry of finishing paintings for the exhibit at Paddiwhack, I have been working on a vertical piece showing a curving path. It has been moving ahead very slowly, and recently seemed as though the adjustments I made to try to improve it were making things worse. Some paintings are just very stubborn, even though they looked like a great idea in planning and sketching. The best response is sometimes to put it away for awhile and to begin a new piece.
This time, I decided to plunge into the new piece with minimal planning, no sketches, and no tonal studies. It seemed that I had become too careful, too picky over details--and, stuck. What appealed was to start a smallish piece in unusual proportions (12" x 6") with a fairly low horizon focusing on an interesting sky. With a few reference photos and four paint colors (so far), I forced myself to quickly lay in the first coat for the piece in about 20 minutes. It was fun!
Here are a couple of the reference photos--including one of our Shih-Tzu, Magnolia (aka Maggie) tearing down Jacksonville Beach--one of her favorite spots. The block-in of the painting is rough, but seems like a good start. The sky is a mix of cerulean blue and white near the horizon and ultramarine blue and white further up; the ocean uses the same colors, plus a bit of Paynes grey near the horizon. All blues are tempered with a bit of Cadmium red light to neutralize them (tube colors sometimes look phony in landscapes). The beach under-layer is mostly Cad red light and white. This will be adjusted, as our sand is actually somewhat grey-beige, but I want a warm tone present in both the sand and the clouds (which are yet to come).
Question of the day: Am I the only nut who sometimes needs to "work at spontaneity"? How do you overcome creative blocks?


  1. This is looking so lovely and I do hope you include Maggie in the painting. She looks so full of life and so care-free!

    I don't do anything specific to overcome creative blocks. I just do what I'm of a mind to do, such as read, watch tv, work on a weaving piece...something. Eventually, an idea begins to take shape...

  2. Good suggestion, Sherry--I may paint a version of this scene for our own home sometime with Maggie in it. This one will take a longer view and (hopefully) will appeal to other people. In other words, no Maggie :>( .

    You are naturally freer and more spontaneous than me--which is wonderful!

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