Posted on Fri 04 Aug 2017
When painting figuratively, it’s easy to become so focused on setting down the image that we end up becoming tangled in minor details. It’s not the wrong way to paint, just a different way. If, like me, you prefer a looser approach that’s as much about the paint as the subject then try the following exercise.
Tape off four sections of a large piece of thick paper and paint a separate study in each window (see Four at Formby, below).
I sometimes change direction and turn to face 45 degrees or so to see a different view each time. Allow no more than 20 minutes per study.
Exploring the paint and reacting to your surroundings can be a fun warm up, but it need not mean mindless daubing where anything goes.
All painting is abstract to some degree, but the formal qualities such as colour, tone or perspective that we use to judge figurative painting will still apply to more abstract works. Besides, there’s no rule that says you have to paint one way or the other. This freedom of expression and looseness can eventually find its way into studies that take a little longer.
No matter how fast you can paint, some moments are so short lived that trying to capture them with anything other than a camera is impossible, but don’t rely on the camera alone. Take photographs as a quick reference to aid your painting, but focus on the subject through drawn and painted studies.
Watch a video showing some of Steve's paintings of his home town of Liverpool.
Read the full article by Steve in the September 2017 issue of Leisure Painter. Click here to purchase your copy.
The image below is Four at Formby, acrylic on paper, each (10x15cm).
'Take time to play and create a couple of loose studies,' says Steve.