Saturday, May 1, 2010
"Imagineering"...Creating beyond photo reference
Be creative!... Do one thing each day that scares you!
I customarily create my larger paintings either from oil "sketches" done completely on location in the field... or from pencil and ink renderings that I make in my sketchbooks from field experiences. I find that these sources help me to simplify and work out compositional, colour and value structure that inspire me to take the preliminary experience to a higher level.This is my usual approach to working on larger paintings in the studio... and usually after much time has passed since the first record.
I refer to a different process which I refer to as creating using "imagineering"... or forming an altogether new interpretation... allowing the imagination to override simply copying, or scaling up the original "sketch". The change can take the form of a seasonal change... a compositional shift in focus... or a more dramatic lighting effect to create another mood.
On odd occasions... if I'm bored or stymied... I visit my extensive digital photo reference files in my computer to find something to stir the embers... and light the creative fire within. I use the photo simply as a springboard to get off the ground initially... and I usually create a couple of loose ink thumbnails to get the feel for the composition. I will stress... that at this point I toss the photo aside and direct my process totally based upon intuition... and the vast experience I have gained and stored in my plein air work over many years.
As I work my way along... ideas or directions regarding format,lighting, colour and composition never fail to emerge. When one "idea" strikes me strongly enough... I quickly move to a toned canvas and lay in the idea lightly with vine charcoal... or with a burnt sienna or umber linear drawing.
I might go forward with a monochromatic tonal study in the colours mentioned... creating patterns and masses of form or lights and darks. This accomplished, I then proceed to a lay in of colour... working up more solid tonal relationships. The final stage is to tie together these other steps by adding detail and balancing lights and darks... working towards finish.
Today's subject "Morning Has Broken" (24x30 inch oil on canvas) derives from a photo taken many years ago at Stonehurst South, Nova Scotia... a favourite haunt of mine during my years living in that area. It is one example where this "imagineering" process focussed upon creating a glorious early morning light which I believe totally transcends the original digital image. You will readily note that I have added and subtracted... stretched and pulled at will to create a "new take"... on a rather ordinary initial digital image.
One area of the painting required considerable care and thought. The addition of the cape boat could have well produced a disastrous result for the otherwise successful painting... if its scale and placement had been incorrect in relationship to the rest of the subject matter. One jpeg illustrates how I avoided this pitfall using a grid as a device to compare scale.
I hope that my readers find this painting attractive... and that my post might encourage others to "imagineer"... and to use photo reference as yet another useful tool in their creative tool boxes.Remember! The camera is NOT a substitute for outdoor sketching and painting. A camera has a finite realm for creating based upon its limited optics... whereas your eyes... palette and brain form a Universe of "possibility" for Creation!
Good Painting to All!