i am working on two paintings right now. i only have an hour or two a day, so it takes awhile :)  i should finish one this weekend. i really can't wait to share it with you all :) i will post it for critique. 

i spend a lot of time just looking at the painting. to see what i like and don't like. so i know what changes i want to do. sometimes it helps me to take a picture of it to look at (like it is someone else painting.) sometimes i just get about ten feet away and look at the painting (that's about as far away as i can get unless i take it outside haha) such is life in a cozy cabin, but i love it.

observing my own painting, i see too bright of colors, usually. 

how do you  "look" at your painting?

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While the studio was operational, I would do somewhat the same; but not at the end of a painting session.  At that point you are still too "connected" with what you are doing to be coldly objective.  The next studio session would start with a 20 minute evaluation (over coffee) of where I was at, where I needed to go, and how to get there.  Sometimes the canvas would be inverted, so the image was viewed upside down.  This is a great way to mentally separate the "objects" from the colour masses, composition, and values.

There were also times when I felt a bit frustrated with a piece, not knowing what to do next.  That's when it went up on a wall or stood on a shelf for a while, still visible, but not active.  If I do not have a sense of what needs to happen, it is usually best to have nothing happen.  Otherwise the worst always seems to follow!  Working on an unrelated canvas can occasionally trigger a spark that provides the input needed for the work in limbo.  In some cases, you just need to mentally disengage from a piece and not try to force yourself to think about it.  There is also another valid question - "Is this piece really worth investing any more of my time and effort?".  Sometimes you glean what you can from the experience and recycle the canvas; as the old saying goes, there is no sense in flogging a dead horse.

Wenda, you mention "too bright .. colors".  Are you referring to colour intensity or value?  There is nothing wrong with intensity as long as your relative values are on target.

As I like to have a 20-30 minute "reflection" period to disengage from reality prior to painting, I prefer to have a minimum of three to four hours of uninterrupted time available.  When you lose an hour to coffee plus brush and work area clean up and any post-session reminders (bring paper towels), shorter time blocks do not provide enough time for me to get into the zone and actually do anything of consequence.  I have worked on colour charts and test sheets, texture gels, canvas priming, etc when time is not enough to actually paint.

I also kept a log of each session, with a specific record for each painting.  Dates, specific paints, special techniques, random thoughts, original source image, what worked and what did not work.  Since I like exploring our media, I have a lot of paint.  Heavy body, fluid, and high flow (aka acrylic ink), and way more colours than I really need.  As the number of colours used on any piece is intentionally quite limited, a record is kept for each canvas.  If one is put away for a week or so, the specific palette can readily be duplicated from these notes.  The session logs have also become more precise and relevant since I started; some things that become a matter of routine in terms of technique are simply "assumed" and my main colour choices are abbreviated.  You learn a lot from reviewing these notes, and it is easier to see the changes in your approach and the way you handle your colours over time.    

Thank you so much Charles! A journal for my paintings is an excellent idea. You have given me lots of helpful tips here. Much appreciated. :)

Yes - this is part of my process too.  I also spend a lot of time looking at my paintings - deciding what I will do next and how to do it; trying to figure out if each section looks ok or not.  

I sometimes find that after working at a painting for a while, I can't "see it" anymore. I feel like I am too much into the process.  I generally ask my husband to look at it and tell me what looks right or wrong to him (because he is not so invested in it, he will share his observations) and that helps.  I also have learned to put it away for awhile and look at it later - particularly when I am struggling with part of it.  

When I am nearing the end, I still cannot tell whether it looks good or not - I just can't think of anything else to do. Then  I have to stop.

Someday, I hope to get to a point where I will be satisfied with what I paint.  That would be nice.

Great topic Wenda!   I am a very slow painter and painting in oils suits me best, as well as having inherited many tubes too.  I usually take a picture with my phone when I'm finished for the day. Then I'll look at the photo when I'm out the next day, usually in a waiting room or line-up waiting for something. I see things that need to be toned down or up. etc.  It just gives a new format to what I'm working on and helps "see" it better. 

thanks for commenting Linda. i guess we all learn things along the way to help us. i find it very useful to hear what other folks do.


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