Painting 101 - Part 3 The Importance of Diving In

Posted on by Wess Foreman

It's been a while since the last installment of my Painting 101 series. Not sure if anyone read the other two, but, after rereading them myself, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. Someone, someday, might find the information helpful, so I will try my best to keep it up despite the large gaps of time that may appear between posts. The idea of this series is to provide some basics of the painting process for beginners. If this subject interests you, you might want to start with the first post of the series.

This time, at the risk of being repetitive, I just wanted to re-emphasize the importance of not shooting for perfection, especially during the early stages of the painting process. While some disciplines may demand this approach - I'm thinking here of surgeons, sky divers, and possibly builders of intricate card houses, though I have no experience with anything more than two-story hovels - the painting process, for the most part, takes the opposite stratagem: starting with a rough draft and perfecting the image as the process goes along (sometimes waiting until the final stage to add the detail). To demonstrate the process, I present exhibit A, B, and C - the three sketches to the right. The first, demonstrates that a child can handle the initial sketch for you if need be. Though I generally recommend drawing or painting the entire thing yourself to get the full effect. While this is a pen and ink drawing as opposed to a painting, the idea is the same: just get something down right away, a launching point, something to break through the cold white of the canvas, something upon which to improve.

The second photo shows a refinement of the initial sketch (in "real life" this would be more like my initial drawing or painting, but this is merely a demonstration). Indeed, in my own paintings, I find the process to be merely a series of corrective action until it finally looks close enough. I should point out, you might as well paint or draw the initial sketch as well as you are able - in fact, if you are perfect, go ahead and start with the final stage [and congratulations for being perfect] - but the point is, one shouldn't spend all day on these early stages; the idea is get something down and move on. Too often we put off doing things in life just because we want to need to see results right away - "guilty as charged," though I have managed to get over this hurdle for the most part in my paintings.

And, Voila! - the final photo demonstrates my ultimate genius. Well . . . It does demonstrate the fact that acrylic painting [and oil painting] has the advantageous property of being able to hide initial sketches and under-paintings of the painting process - if pen and ink can [almost] achieve this, I know paint can - it's an opaque medium, after all. That fact is quite liberating, isn't it? Well, it can be. It gives you permission to experiment, to be bold, to try out different colors and techniques. Cool, eh? Anyway, take a look at the first photo again. Now look at the final photo. No, it's no masterpiece, but compared to the initial drawing, it has come a long way. So the moral of the story is: don't be self-conscious of your painting, be confident in where the painting is headed, don't give up on your painting too early, and have fun with it.

And that's the importance of diving in. Next time, we'll wade into an actual painting, and I'll bring along some actual photos showing an actual painting in progress [yummy]. Until then, go ahead and get started! Send in photos of your own first attempts, if you would like [wess - at - wess foreman dot com] - I'd be happy to give you some pointers or encouragement. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions on the subject, something I might have forgotten or wasn't clear about. We will reconvene very soon [I'm sure] for Painting 101 - Part 4. Class dismissed.

Please leave me a comment if you liked this article, disliked this article, or if something was wrong or right with what I wrote. Thanks!