Paintings can so easily have a little too much time on them becoming overworked and a little laboured. I thought a good analogy might be the outcome of cooking a Victoria Sponge cake .
If you slightly over cook one of these cakes it smells slightly over-cooked when it comes out of the oven, it is slightly over-coloured with a bit of a crisp edge on the outside edges and it loses some of its subtle cakey fragrance to a more caramelised finish (to be polite). But if you slightly undercook it, it will be moist and tasty, has a full buttery flavour, and on the downside it might lack a little colour. Which is best? Definitely the latter for the tastiest cake.
Catching the cake at it’s optimum moment is possible with practice but there is little variation from one cake to the next so eventually a plan for timing and temperature will make it perfect. Obviously this is very different to the variations that are possible from one painting to the next. But the idea of relating over-cooking and under-cooking a sponge cake to painting is purely for the reason that stopping a bit before the optimum moment will allow a painting to look more vibrant, spontaneous, and more intuitive rather than laboured and probably a bit muddied. It might not be perfect but it is likely to be a better finish. Just like the cake.
Trying to under-work a painting is soooooo hard by comparison to overworking. Over-cooking or overworking it is easy. It is easy for me to see bits of my paintings that might be improved and therefore I could keep picking at it. So today I am trying very hard to not do any more to this painting of a Springer Spaniel.
What could be done to try to prevent getting to the over-painting stage? I wonder if in the back of my mind I think people who look at this picture might find fault for me not “tidying ” everything up, and somehow I have to let go of this idea at an opportune moment. Perhaps the questions I should be asking myself are: How happy am I about the painting? Can I get away with finishing it at this moment?
I am tempted to keep going on this painting, but I think I might get away with stopping right now. So hands off, let’s clean the brushes and here is Fred smiling.
Don’t for one minute let the title of this post lead you to believe that I might give any advice currently on that subject matter!
A new pet portrait emerges from my studio but a distinct lack of ability to prioritise is ensuing along other commitments getting in the way, and a little procrastination to boot. No advice can come of such disorder. If anyone has any tips please let me know and help rescue the situation!
Meanwhile here is the most recent completed dog portrait painting.
If an image captures your imagination you may find your own internal dialogue emerging as to what is taking place in the picture. I make ACEOs with my own narrative in mind and often show them to my family and find that they in turn arrive at their own (sometimes surprising ) conclusion as to what they think is going on with the characters in my ACEOs.
I love to start the story and hope there may be a variety of possibilities for a story to be told.
Decide yourself what is happening here between Digger and Freddie, and then see below for what I had in mind. My description for this aceo goes something like this : “Digger could not be sure but he thought that Freddie was trying to tell him something…..”
My narrative could have been…. “Looking at Freddie Digger was not sure if Freddie actually liked him.” but I decided that it would be “Freddie kept glancing at the Fish Food and looking at Digger hoping Digger might take the hint and gives him a little snack!”
It happens so often, that artists actually stop working on a painting sometime after the vital moment when they should have stopped. Spotting the optimum time to stop working on a piece is just so difficult as unless you could see into the future the you cannot anticipate whether your next few painting decisions will better or possibly worsen the painting’s outcome. For this reason a good many paintings are over-worked and without a lot of experience this optimum moment can pass you by before you know it.
This is a painting I have been working on today. It takes some concentration to be disciplined in the craft and it is best to work when feeling energised. Once an artist tires and concentration waivers then sloppy decisions and actions are made leading to frustration and disappointment in the outcome.
I liken this process to swimming. Whilst striving to get one’s swimming stroke right you need concentration, some discipline and energy. Once the energy is depleted you fall back on old sloppy habits, inefficiency and then more tiredness is the outcome. My painting and my swimming can go the same way. This painting of a wolf is unfinished in my opinion. It is just a matter of how far past the optimum point I persist…..
I offer a commission service called Commission-Me-This where I can reproduce existing designs by painting them once again especially for you. If you would rather a painting instead of a reproduction print then I can produce a painting that is almost the same in likeness to a previous design but will have an original finished result. As each painting is made the organic nature of the process will mean that there may be slight differences in colour application but the drawing or design will be the same. It is also possible that minimal tweaks can be discussed if the client wishes.
Here is an ACEO of Harvey the Aardvark playing hide and seek with Giraffe. This ACEO painting measures 3.5 x 2.5″ only.
This was subsequently commissioned as a 7 x 5 ” painting, see below…….
The finished painting shown here with a mount is essentially the same and only seeing them side by side can you pick out the differences in the painting process.
The advantage of my Commission-Me-This service is that unlike the usual commissioning scenario where you will not envisage the exact result, what you get here is effectively an “original” painting but you can see what you will be paying before I begin the work.