It’s Easter vacation here, and we have a lovely model sitting for 4 days in Jiska’s atelier. My original plan was to paint two paintings of her, and that’s what I started doing. I had prepared a small canvas (30cm x 40 cm) with a dark background, and a slightly larger one (40cm x 50 cm) with a more neutral wash and was pleased Monday morning to start on the paintings. I found it quite interesting to see how the skin colors appeared on the dark surface of the smaller painting, and although I had the initial impression that they covered the dark entirely, when I looked the next morning, it was clear that the dark was still pressing through. Knowing how these sort of relationships work is something I would also categorize under basics. As to the other painting, I made and discarded about 4 charcoal ideas for the composition before making a decision.
On the second day, I worked on both paintings, and became increasingly pleased with the smaller one and increasingly troubled with the larger one. Although the smaller painting bore little physical resemblance to the model, I found the image expressive and interesting to look at. The larger one just felt boring.
They say that one of the best ways to improve at go is to review your own games, and when choosing games to look at, it is often better to pick one that you lost. Here you can examine your mistakes with the hope of finding better way to solve the problems that arose in the game, and are less inclined to rest on your laurels. On the other hand, a painting is not finished until one decides that it is finished, and the question presented itself: “If I have so far failed to solve the problems presented in the painting, should I continue to struggle with it, or should I abandon it?” When I arrived on the third day, I decided simply to postpone the decision, and started a third painting instead.
My reasoning was that the options are still open with the second painting, and that given a limited amount of time with the model, I would rather spend it trying something new that felt more promising than to try to fix a problem I had not yet diagnosed. It turned out that the third painting presented problems of its own, but now I have all the more material to review. I have one more day (well, 2 1/2 hours with the model) and I’m looking forward to seeing the state of the three paintings at the end of the day, and I’ll show you some pictures soon.