I’m struggling with the painting I have on my easel at the moment. Upon reflection it occurs to me that I struggle with almost every painting and at almost the same time. As you can see the painting has just gotten started. In this particular case I have a number of images that I’m amalgamating into a single image. This isn’t unusual for me but it doesn’t seem to make a difference as to whether I struggle or not.

I think I’m waiting for something to start jumping off the canvas (realism illusion). Sometimes this happens very early and I think I relax when it does. As for the present painting I will press on until this starts to happen. At times I have been painting a background, walk away and when I come back it has come to life. I wasn’t particularly happy with the painting I’m thinking about so an early illusion doesn’t indicate a good result. Regardless I still relax when it happens. With the last painting the illusion didn’t start until I was almost finished and I’m relatively pleased with the finished product.

This begs the question “Why do I paint?”  I paint because I enjoy it. I struggle, so I must enjoy that too. I don’t like most of my paintings, but I still enjoy painting them. If there were no struggle would I still paint? I don’t know but the occasional painting seems to almost paint itself. When I look at one of my paintings, and some part of it jumps off the canvas, I sometimes wonder who painted it.

If overthinking increased value artists would overthink constantly.  I think art critics overthink constantly. I just like to paint.

Studio Mirror

I have a collection of local artist’s links in my browser. I occasionally look through them looking for ideas, inspiration or just enjoyment. I love Robert Bateman’s work. He has a fabulous idea for looking at his work in the studio. He places a mirror on the back wall of his studio, and he can step back and look at the work in the mirror. The reversed image allows him to see problems. I often take a painting off the easel and invert it. The mirror is a much better idea. I’m definitely going to put a mirror in my studio.


With Pebble Beach (yes I’ve changed the name) I find that shading my eyes from the light helps. I have a fluorescent light immediately above and behind me when I paint. It’s a full spectrum fluorescent so I don’t notice the green tint. When I step back to view this painting the glare is bothersome. This is the first time I’ve noticed it so it may have something to do with the painting. This particular painting is quite dark. I’ll try this more in the future to see if I notice glare on every painting.

I also notice that there is quite a bit of glare when I’m trying to take a picture of it. I usually do this in a different room with full length white sheers on the window and usually in the early evening with an overcast day if possible. I will try a photo outside on an overcast day. I might need to resort to a matt varnish to reduce the glare.

Today I tried taking a picture on an overcast day. It definitely works better. I still think this is a polarizing issue  but now that I have a good image I don’t care as much.

Final Details

I’ve finished Wooden Boat. All final details have been added and I am finished. The interesting thing about detail is that they don’t have to be complete. If I see some detail I try to put it in but almost as soon as I start I find that it looks complete. I only add detail until I don’t notice it anymore. It is an odd feeling when it looks like I’ve added much more detail than I actually have. I’ve noticed this a few times when I’ve just started a painting and the image suddenly looks real. I have the impression/illusion that it is jumping off the painting surface. My theory is that when a small suggestion of detail is introduced my mind incorporates it into my visualisation and adds the rest.

When the painting starts to match my internal visualisation of what the scene should look like, the illusion of reality starts. This is a little shocking because it often happens so suddenly. I expect it to start slowly and incrementally increase. Final details do add somewhat to the realistic effect but mostly they just change or enhance the focal point.


Next Painting

I have a photo of a store front in New Orleans that I took when my wife and I were on holiday there. I don’t really know what drew me to it. Unfortunately I only took a couple of images. I’ve decided to put it on a square format canvas (it’s one that I have). I was wondering how to format the image on the square canvas since I don’t have images of the entire store front and its street location.

I went to Google Street View and found the Store. I got some great additional images for the store. Now with a little work on lighting and time of day I have all the images I need.