Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painting... Is all About Tempo!

I'm back... uplifted by the fact that I am now able to get back to my painting... after the birthday celebration is in the finished drawer... for another year! It was a grand day of painting... LARGER... good wishes... a sumptuous birthday feast prepared by Deb... a piece of the coconut cream pie... a birthday gift from fellow Rockport artist and friend Kris Huck... a cracklin' fire... and a rousing game of Scrabble. Does life get any better?.... I think not!

I got up at my usual time this morning and by the time that Deb joined me for our morning coffee club at 6:00 am, I had already created the loose stick and India ink rendering for today's Challenge subject. It is a loose... intuitive... jaunty impression of The Anglican Church of the Redeemer. That church will also house the memorial stained glass window which Deb is close to finishing... a blessing and a tribute to many faiths... including Deb's!

Note that the sketch more resembles more a spontaneous caricature than a finished rendering. There is no attempt to consider perfection or controlled draughtsmanship per say and that strategy is not undertaken because I can't draw with more precision and accuracy. It is simply that I wish to recreate the process which I employ in the field to construct a plein air sketch. When one is working outdoors on any occasion, one is always confronted by rapidly changing weather and lighting conditions.. In order to put down a meaningful and satisfying record over such a brief period of time... one must learn how to manage time.

The lay in "sketch"... outline... rehearsal ....completed to work out "possibilities" in preparation for the final performance. Maestro!... Let the "music" begin!

Tempo and Art

At this critical point, I wish to inject an important concept to consider. That concept is "Tempo." That term in the dictionary is defined clearly as "the measured speed, rate or pace... as in a piece of music."
Using music as a vehicle and an analogy to introduce the concept onto painting, let us consider how a beginner is taught to keep tempo when learning to play a piano piece. The teacher will introduce the use of a metronome... a mechanical device which uses "ticks" to establish and control the rate of playing as a constant and precise guide.

"Spring arrives... early...in Rockport" - oil on panel 8x10 inches

Lay in fully in place... but push n' pull necessary to balance and harmonize areas all around the picture plane

At the highest level of musical performance by artists who are each, competent musicians in the their own right, the tempo is maintained by an  orchestra conductor who guides the entire orchestra simultaneously through their individual parts... using his "baton." Here is the point where my analogy can "switch tempo"... and refer back to painting. The baton ... to the artist is his or her paint brush. The piece of music becomes the canvas.

The palette becomes the various "colours" or instrument sounds possible. The interplay between the baton and each instrument creates the "brushwork" of passages... which when woven together and drawn to a climactic ending... are the finished piece... usually with a colourful performance-ending flourish... or crescendo... to a dramatic and halting silence! So it goes with painting... whether "conducted"... in the studio... or... en plein air! making music is in fact the same as creating art... in this mind ... and by this method...at least!

As in musical notation... variation in styles and sizes of brushwork add excitement and interest in a piece. Even the lack of pigment or strong brushwork, offers the viewer's eye a chance to rest... performing exactly the same function that a rest does in a musical piece. Music and art share so many common attributes... and support each other!

Hope that you enjoyed the post! A wee "interlude"... between challenges! HA HA!!! Now back to the "orchestra pit"! HA HA!!!

I changed the seasonal focus... that in itself is a change in tempo. Adding a log to the fire in a fireplace changes the tempo of "the burn"... lifting the feeling of warmth. While the final product has chiseled away at the initial intuitive start... the tempo of my painting and brushwork rarely varied or slowed down. I am content with the final outcome... and hey... Deb is elated. She worries about the abundance of winter presently scattered around our inside studio. I revel in the fact! Different "strokes"... they say!

Hope that you enjoyed my change of pace!  Stay tuned...

Good Painting...to ALL!!


  1. What a gorgeous piece, Bruce. Not only does the church itself have an aura of the peace that one often finds within without, but the setting...! I am drawn to the blues in the distant water and skies!

  2. Hi Bruce, your sick method has produced another beautifully free painting and a welcome bit of spring colour. I'm not surprised that Deb likes it as well with all the snow you have outside at the moment.

    Another musical analogy that I've noticed is the need to be constantly practising your "scales". If you don't paint for a while it takes time to get back into the flow. I suppose it's the same with anything that requires co-ordination. They say that you never forget how to ride a bicycle, but that doesn't mean you won't be wobbly if you haven't ridden for a while!

    Keep warm,

  3. Sorry, that should have been "your STICK method" of course!

  4. Good Morning Sherry!... A bit of warmth and colour... "a bit of sugar... helps the medicine go down" they say.

    You have noticed that the Church... Rockport... and the River... are quite simply "three in one".... the God Head inChristian Judaeic terms! Thats the point... if there is one... other than a pretty spring scene! Good eye... again Sherry!

    Thanks for visiting and the encouragement!
    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Good Morning Keith !... Thanks for visiting and commenting with praise and your own good solid suggestions reguarding "scales."

    "Repetitio... est mater studiorum."
    Repetition is the mother of all study.... plain and simple. Good point!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  6. Thanks Keith... but no need for apology. My "ergonomic"... curved keyboard is making mre the "typo" king of the blogging world!

    "Sick" could well have been a s(t)ick on my keyboard! HA HA!!