The Devil is in The Details

I thought I got over my perfectionist issues.   I am generally more of a ‘Big Picture’ sort of person.  The details usually sort themselves out while I keep my eye on the bigger perspective of life.  Especially as you never know how things are going to get done, anything could happen.  Sort of like learning to expect the unexpected.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case for me as far as my drawing and painting is concerned, and how it has been going lately.  The weird thing is, I like working on the details!   However, I need to learn my limits.  When doing a sketch, of flowers let’s say, I love putting in everything I see.   Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.  I love working in pastels when doing a still life.  I love working on the colour and shading.  For some reason, when I try to do it with paint, it doesn’t really work.   Remember, I am still new to this drawing and painting lark!  I am still finding my way.

I am wondering if it is normal for all artists to start out this way.  Does everyone try to get what we see exactly right, or do most people happily settle for an impression?   When drawing a nude, I like to get the essence of the person and try to keep the lines very simple, like Matisse!  Maybe he really wasn’t very good at drawing nudes to life and so came up with just doing the shape as best as he could and developed his style?  If you look at his paintings of people, they are almost like cartoons.  They are not technically brilliant, but you get a sense of the person and what he was trying to convey.  Also, his use of colour is amazing.  To be able to paint like that…  To say his work is not without detail is not true.  Many of his ‘parlour’ scenes have a lot of detail.  It’s just that the detail is not too detailed.  You really need to see the paintings to get what I mean here as I am having difficulty explaining it.  It seems he doesn’t focus too much on the minutiae of the small stuff.  You know that his oranges are oranges, and his flowers are flowers, even if he hasn’t put in every little detail about them.

If you look at many works by famous artists of the old school, (not Old Masters) most of them do not seem to be too concerned with capturing every little detail as long as they capture the shape, colour and have great composition.

I am still trying to find out what is best for me and what I can do with everything to hand.  That is one reason I am doing an Art Foundation Course.  I would like to learn how to effectively use my art supplies and produce work that I will be happy with.  In the meantime, I am reading loads of books on the different mediums and how to use them.  I try to paint or draw something everyday.

On Monday, I painted 2 pictures of tulips in a vase.  The first one had detail in the flowers as I saw them.  I wasn’t happy with it as it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted.  I loved the background though, just not the actual flowers. It is the one on the left below:

21.06.11 – Tulips – Acrylic on Acrylic Board – 9×12″

So I did another one.  For the painting on the right,  I decided to keep things simple and just focus on the shapes.  Although the image is more flat, I actually prefer it as I used a lot of hard body paint for texture.  Because I knew what I was going to do, I actually enjoyed myself more while painting this piece.  It seemed that less was more in this case.  However, I felt I could do better.

I painted another one this afternoon, with even less detail!  I simplified the colours and details of the tablecloth and used the paint texture to add interest.  I enjoyed painting this one even more than the previous one.  I will probably try to also re-create this painting in pastels.  The possibilities are numerous.  By the way, this painting is totally from my head.  The vase was actually a drinking glass and I had multicoloured tulips in them.  I merely used them as a guide to create this painting.

23.06.11 - Tulips - Acrylic on Paper Board - 9x12"

I have already decided that I don’t want to work towards realism or photorealism.  I just want people to look at my work and say, ‘Yes, that is a bowl of fruit or vase of flowers or bunch of asparagus.  I really love the colours and composition.’   Note the fruit and veg theme.   It is what I have handy in my house!!  I still need to paint some lillies in Acrylics as I haven’t done them in paint yet.  I have masses growing in my garden!

Maybe pencil work is great for details and other medium for less is more?!   Oh, what a wonderful journey it is finding your art!  I feel like a child let loose in a candy shop.  I want to buy everything and try everything.  Sometimes I just don’t know where to start!  All I know is that I don’t want to stop!

I have found a fab website called Art is Fun!      How can you not like a website called Art is Fun?  It is where I learned how to draw a Rose, in pencil.  I had real trouble with drawing roses, but not after doing the tutorial!  Then something clicked into my brain about what I learned on the website and something my future tutor said to me about drawing.  I now ‘get’ how to look before putting it down on paper.

I also joined The Art Colony.   It is part of the Art is Fun! website.  I have learned a few things since I joined, like: what to do with leftover paint,  and how to make cool paper using rubbing alcohol.  There are many talented people on this site.  One can learn so much from others and get loads of support.  It just depends on how much you want to do with it.  Right now, I am getting huge amounts of inspiration.

That’s a start!