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There are scenes that almost jump out and grab you, and you know you have to paint them or write about them. At other times there may be only a vague inclination that you’d like to try something new and so you go with it. Either way you must ask yourself: “What am I trying to say? What am I trying to illustrate or express?
Every painting tells a story or expresses a feeling or impression. You are taking your viewer on the journey with you. Where will you take them and how? What is the most important thing you want to show them? How will you help them navigate through the barrage of color and detail?
Is your message soft or loud? Do you want to jar them from complacency or coddle them into submission? What is the end result you want? Will you think big and dream large or will you softly suppress your message to a whisper? All of these questions should preferably be answered before you begin. Then again, the painting itself may be a question that only the viewer can answer.
Painting, writing, or any art form is anything but dull. The innuendo is everywhere. The subtleties should sparkle with ingenuity and the canvas or stage should reflect your skill and spontaneity. When your story becomes contrived or too controlled people will be aware of it even though they may not be able to say what it is that bothers them.
Instead of holding your imagination at bay or choking it with too much control, unleash it. Your knowledge and skill will roam freely and thoughtfully allowing you to tell your story. Where will your journey end? When will your tale be finished?
Someone once said your work is finished when you can no longer find any place to improve it. I think it ends even before that. There’s a fine line between spontaneous freshness and belabored brushwork. Hard straight lines draw far more attention than a small swipe of color that goes a tad too far or is allowed to blend into the background.
Paint is forgivable. Wipe it out if it displeases you. Paint over it and smooth out the flaws. If the first layer of paint captures your vision, avoid a second. Let that part stay and embellish around it bringing depth and richness to your scene.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you want to try something new, do it. You can always wipe it out and paint over it. This practice will keep your nerves under control. I know when I do commissioned work I’m always more tense worrying about if the buyer will be pleased. When I paint for myself, the brush strokes are more fluid and unhindered.
Above all, enjoy yourself. If you’re not, you’re in the wrong business.