PDA

View Full Version : Plan or Paint?


Darren
05-01-2003, 09:29 AM
As I've read through a number of different watercolor how-to books, there are some that stress the need (nay, absolute necessity) for sketches and value studies before picking up the brush while others seem to just to dive right in.

As a beginner, I was wondering what approach some of you take--do you do much of the up front "planning" (value, composition, palette, etc) or jump into the painting? (I haven't had the need yet since I'm still working exercises in the books, but I do aspire to do a "real" painting some day soon!)

thanks

darren

pampe
05-01-2003, 09:32 AM
Hi and WELCOME!!


I think you will find as many answers as people here!

YOu may also want to search old threads about value drawings, etc!

I do both....some just start right out...some with planning more

But, I use my camera to do much of my value planning because I work from my photos

Good luck!

Pam

vestalqueen
05-01-2003, 10:03 AM
Depending on the complexity of the subject, I like to do a thumbnail of my subject. Nothing fancy, but a small drawing of the basic shapes - it helps me get a grip on composition and value. I use my thumbnail to determine where my highlights, midtones and darks will go. I don't fuss over it a whole lot, but it's an invaluable tool. At the very least I try to "think" a value sketch in my mind. When I don't take that few minutes before I set in to paint, I generally end up frustrated with some element in my painting. We all know that the frustrations in watercolor are plenty as it is, so I try to reduce them somewhat with a little planning in advance.

That said, I must admit that even the best made plans run amok.

:D

Erin

madmum
05-01-2003, 11:17 AM
I usually go straight in and paint! Watercolour paper is easy to crop if the composition doesn't work ;) Think my way would be considered bad practice by many artists, though :cat:

Ruth

Nitsa
05-01-2003, 11:51 AM
Most of the time I sketch my painting out first, freehand!

Occasionally I will work wet in wet, I do this mostly to get myself painting if I am having a hard time finding a subject I like, I do these paintings from the imagination and paint as I go...No sketching involved.

I have never used pallette tests, thumbnails, rehersals sketches or any other kind of preparation.... I think for me, painting is about the creative, spontaneous part of me, about leaving the "rat race" and "hum drum" behind and having a place within myself that's just mine, exciting, fun and ever changing...... lots of planning would spoil that for me!

wayfarer
05-01-2003, 12:29 PM
I do a simple sketch, probably not even recognizable as the original idea, then I get to painting. I have read about using smaller studies before tackling the full sheet painting, but I'm paranoid. Worried that I'd lose my spontaneity with the subject if I did too much more than that.

Chris

mchew
05-01-2003, 12:34 PM
Originally posted by madmum
I usually go straight in and paint! Watercolour paper is easy to crop if the composition doesn't work ;) Think my way would be considered bad practice by many artists, though :cat:

Ruth

That's me too... I go straight in and paint but of course I drew the composition with pencil first.

I don't know about bad practice though... my teacher does the same... and since most of us here work from photos, I agree with Pam that I'm already "planning" the composition when taking photos with my digital camera.

I also bring it to photoshop and do auto level, brightness & contrast and saturation to get the best effect I want.

Yorky
05-01-2003, 01:00 PM
When doing plein aire I usually do a quick thumbnail sketch to iron out the composition, otherwise I work from photographs and do a lot of my composition on the computer, erasing things, moving things around, enhancing the colours.

Then I do a fairly detailed skech, sometimes using a ruler to get perspective line in correctly.

Doug

seedy
05-01-2003, 03:48 PM
This is a great question and of course you will get so many different methods that people use to paint.
Have you seen any of those paintings as done by the "Masters" that show the square lines on the canvas that they used to enlarge their drawings?...
I like the thumbnail approach with an idea "from the top of my head"
I agree with quite a few of the replies that most of us work from photos, which is my preferred way
for several reasons.
1..Its 40F below in Canada in the winter.
2..The black flies eat the s--t out of you in the summer.
3..Ever start a full sheet in the summer in the sun? Dryng time is instant...sunglasses? In other words..no control.
4..I find that if I do the first painting, and nail it, it's rare. So I do a 2nd one, referring to the 1st one as to where I screwed up....I like to think of it as getting to know the subject.
5..Sometimes...more often than not, we can't pull it off, when we thought we could. Makes a great fire starter!
Thats my two cents.
Take care,
Brian

lyn lynch
05-01-2003, 03:54 PM
I jump in w/both feet, but that's my personality showing. I don't use WIP books although I have tonage; which I will be selling on eBay once I get that thing worked out.

In my months at WC! I have come to understand the value of pre-planning. I am trying to fit this into my work as I feel it will be of value, i.e., hopefully cutting down on my waste of valuable paper. I do not do landscape work at all at this point, but when I come to that point I want to have some technical knowledge under my belt., particularly the values and palette considerations.

Nandie
05-01-2003, 04:45 PM
It's probably just my perfectionistic nature, but I have to pre-plan before I paint. I don't do thumbnail sketches, but I do sit and think about my subject for quite a while before starting..... and in my head I visualize it and work out my composition, focal point, colors and values. I want to be sure that it will all work together before-hand because I absolutely hate ruining a painting, which almost always happens if I don't pre-plan!:cat:

CharM
05-01-2003, 09:43 PM
I do my preplanning from ref photos on my computer... Once I get a pleasing composition, I greyscale it... Then I sketch it... The unfortunate thing is that none of my work reads as "loose"... It always appears very controlled and tight...

Darren
05-02-2003, 08:51 AM
Thank you all for your input.

There are about as many different approaches as there are respondents. It does seem to me that (most) of you do some form of planning as you go--even if it's the initial photo that taken as subject matter or the mental picture. Perhaps as your experience and familiarity with a particular subject area grows, more of he planning occurs mentally.

A number of you mentioned using the computer to do some of the planning and I've noticed a number of threads here where the grayscales of a painting were posted to indicate value problems. Is this the wave of the future? Are you aware of any books/articles that blend describe the use of the computer throughout the artistic process? (I haven't really found any, but maybe it would be a good "how-to" for Wet Canvas??)

Thanks again for your replies. I think I'll start out along the route of trying to do the planning (though I draw about as well as I paint--maybe I'll use a black crayon).

darren

Gisele
05-02-2003, 09:46 AM
Well Darren, I actually do both. When I'm not sure of where I'm going with the painting I'll do a preliminary sketh first. If I'm familiar with the subject I'll dive right in.

Gisele:)

Yorky
05-02-2003, 10:04 AM
As I said, Darren, I often do major modifications to my photos, add skies, remove things. This picture was a collage of two photos I took in Austria. The farm in the foreground is one, and the valley and the mountains is the other. I later painted the combined picture.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=17467

Computers are marvellous for composing paintings.

Doug

sisangel
05-02-2003, 10:25 AM
Doug,

How about putting together an article for us on using the computer to aid in composition? You seems to have applied it well and I think a great number of us could benefit from such an article.

Bonnie

Darren
05-02-2003, 11:19 AM
I'm with Bonnie, that would be really interesting. Maybe the start of new publishing career??

darren

Yorky
05-02-2003, 11:50 AM
Thanks,

I'll give it some thought, although until recently I used Paintshop Pro, and now I have Photoshop Elements 2, the possibilities are roughly the same with both. The main techniques I have used can be summarised as:

1. Adjustment of lighting using "levels" to bring out detail.
2. Colour correction.
3. Cropping to improve the composition.
4. Cloning to erase street furniture etc.
5. Selecting and moving objects around.
6. Cutting out skies and inserting better skies.
7. Combining photos to make collages.
8. Adding shadows to dull photos after inserting blue skies.
9. Changing colours.
10. Greyscaling photos.
11. Sharpening foregrounds and blurring backgrounds to give depth.

As you can see the possibilities are endless, and it would be a major task to describe the techniques in detail. There are many books published on the subject and not a few tutorial websites, so perhaps a few "before and after" illustrations and links to tutorial sites would be the easiest way to tackle it.

Here's a recent example of a photo I took at Wigan Pier on a dull rainy day and a link to the revised version I posted in my RIL: I used techniques 1, 2,6, and 8 here.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-May-2003/1046-Orwellbefore.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=14537&papass=&sort=1

Perhaps I'll consider digging out a few examples and start a thread on the subject - but then again is it appropriate in the watercolour forum?

Doug

madmum
05-02-2003, 12:00 PM
:eek: Doug I wondered how you did that!!!! I was going to say there were no blue skies when I was there! lol I have so many photos that need rescuing, I'd certainly be interested in your methods :)


Ruth

artmom
05-02-2003, 12:01 PM
Thanks, Yorky!

There are also some great threads on this subject on the Computers/Technology for Artists form under Content Channels above.

Lyn

pampe
05-02-2003, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by sisangel
Doug,

How about putting together an article for us on using the computer to aid in composition? You seems to have applied it well and I think a great number of us could benefit from such an article.

Bonnie

THIS IS A VERY GOOD IDEA!
You need to do this for us, Doug

Islander
05-02-2003, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by Nandie
but I have to pre-plan before I paint. I don't do thumbnail sketches, but I do sit and think about my subject for quite a while before starting..... and in my head I visualize it and work out my composition, focal point, colors and values. I want to be sure that it will all work together before-hand because I absolutely hate ruining a painting, which almost always happens if I don't pre-plan!:cat:

I do exactly the same. I often spend days working out a painting in my head.

jaytee
05-02-2003, 07:57 PM
The more I preplan............. the worse the finished result...........probably because I dont stick to the plan :D Or perhaps because my left brain aint so good at painting as my right brain is :evil: