I had clear goals headed into the series...and I’m so glad I did. Again and again the clear goals saved me from myself.
Create 7-15 floral paintings with the goal to capture some of the contrasts of spring through dark darks and bright greens. Focus on the chunky puzzle style.
I also wanted to work on folding in my new, cool primaries to extend my palette from my original 3 primaries (plus white and brown) to 6 primaries (plus white and brown.)
Additionally, I wanted to try and encourage myself to include thumbnails and studies into my process.
Having clear goals really made a difference for me here.
Number of paintings:
If I hadn’t had this, I would have definitely quit too early. I ran into some mid series frustration and if I hadn’t promised myself to paint until at least 7 paintings, I definitely would have thrown in the towel.
On the flip side, having a number gave me permission to be done with the series. I could feel internal pressure to keep painting, and it was important to have an end goal.
That was probably the biggest change from top to bottom on the series. My first few were very much the chunky puzzle style but that style drifted a bit closer to realism after those first two paintings. And that’s ok. It’s one of the places where I recognized it was worth letting myself adjust.
Darks and Bright Greens:
Again, having formal goals helped here a lot. When I took stock of where I was, it was really helpful to look at some of my paintings and recognize that the greens weren’t in line with the goal. It made it very easy to decide how to adjust the painting. Having that really clear line made all the difference.
Another place where it was useful having clarity on goals was with thumbnails. This was probably the biggest insight of the whole experience. I used to dislike thumbnails. I would group them into my painting time so they became, mentally, the thing I had to get through in order to get to the good stuff, which was the painting itself.
That made them constantly feel rushed. It also meant that if they weren’t working, I said, “I’ll just fix it in the painting. It’ll probably be fine.”
Spoiler: It is never fine. If something doesn't work as a thumbnail, it absolutely won’t work as a painting.
Two things happened. First, because of time issues, I had to move thumbnails earlier in the day, separate from painting time. This removed all the pressure I felt around them. There was no rushing to get to the painting because that wouldn’t happen for hours anyway.
But secondly, it meant that if a thumbnail didn’t work (and so often they don’t) I felt zero pressure to turn it into a painting. That meant that when I did decide to try a thumbnail as a painting, at least it mostly worked as a thumbnail before I decided to try it as a painting.
Finally, moving it to the morning taught me how much I love the design part of the process. As long as I keep it far far away from the painting process.
I definitely feel like I learned a lot on the color front but I still have a long way to go with my cool primaries. I did very little mixing. So very very rarely do I use paint straight from the tube at this point but also I am probably mixing mainly two colors at a time (three if it’s a secondary.) But not a lot more than that. If I was working with Cad Red, Quin Red came nowhere near it. So there’s still a lot of room for growth there.
The series is over and now I’m giving myself time to have no goals. Drift around a bit. See what strikes me and where to go next.
That said, I think working this way could really be a good fit for me. I liked that it created some structure but didn’t demand a finished painting each and every day. I had time to go back and consider the previous work I’d done. It allowed me a lot more thinking time and reworking time. But it still kept me clear in where I was headed.
See the whole series here. Click on each painting to learn more about it and to see some of the steps for creating it.