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Old 02-01-2018, 11:17 PM
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hmshood5 hmshood5 is offline
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All at once, or a little at a time?

Who here paints all at once, like those speed painters or Bob Ross, who can complete a whole painting in one session?

And who paints little bits and pieces at a time, taking days or even weeks to complete a painting/drawing, etc.?

I definitely fall into the second category. Perhaps it's my long experience as a scale modeller, but I always find myself having to stop, step away and "recharge" before I can resume. Yes, I have done "one session" works, but most of my work is spread out over time.
"All of us get lost in the darkness... Dreamers learn to steer by the stars"
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Old 02-02-2018, 04:31 AM
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Journeyman Journeyman is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

All at once in two senses, firstly I like to roughly get the whole painting down in one go, establishing the light and dark, the composition and what ever it is I want to say about the subject. I need to know those things before I can proceed.
To some extent I have them in mind before I pick up the brush but then I need to see them visually.
None of those first marks portray detail just placement and intention, what is going on internally with the form not the contours.
My best work is always done before I start and if I can get it down in one session some of that intention is carried forward.

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Old 02-02-2018, 09:50 AM
budigart budigart is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

It works better for me to do an "all at once" block-in. I try to hit, or come close to some values (highs and lows), and otherwise lay in something of a middle tone that I can begin modifying in later sessions. Once the canvas is covered, I get a better "picture" of what I must do to achieve finish. The block-in usually takes about an hour.
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Old 02-02-2018, 09:52 AM
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Use Her Name Use Her Name is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

I am a "little at a time," in painting as in sculpture. I do a lot of research when I am depicting something I have not totally internalized (I am faster with internalized schemas-- meaning habitats, animals I have done "a million times," because I know them better.) I also feel the need to do a few in depth "studies" which are "pre-flights" to use the language of computer animation. If I am going to devote X hours to a thing, I do not want to make drastic changes. I used to be a pantser*, but many educations ago (BA, MA) learned about planning when it comes to writing, and have used that in my art as well. Measure twice, cut once.

*In writing, the terms would be "Pantsers" as in "by the seat of your pants" and "Planners" (I suppose).
Making art since 1973-ish
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Last edited by Use Her Name : 02-02-2018 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 02-02-2018, 02:46 PM
ianuk ianuk is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

I like to get the canvas almost covered during the first session because it gives me a base to work from. For the next layers, my favourite pastime is correcting things I think we're wrong, so I tend to take more time checking different areas at different times.

I think I paint much better when everything is spontaneous.
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Old 02-02-2018, 04:58 PM
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

but, being an oil painter, sometimes i'm forced to wait and sometimes i choose to wait.

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Old 02-03-2018, 03:33 PM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

I've done both. I like doing one session paintings. They come naturally and have a certain freshness to them. It takes two to four sessions for a pastel painting though, now, and that's the limitation of my fibromyalgia. I'll get tired and then need to stop before I go back to it, tend to spread it out in stages.

It helps for the bit at a time approach to have distinct stages that are done in a session, like sketching in the subject, underpainting, the blocking in, then later layers, final details. How much I put into each stage and what the stages are vary with style. Sometimes I start off with a block-in on toned paper and just build on that, others I slow down for a four-step colorist process that gives glorious, luminous results.

Other types of painting it's the same thing.

But I preferred doing one-session painting and when my stamina was better would do a pastel start to finish in a much shorter time. Or a slow colored pencil in one or two very long days without stopping to do anything else. It's a matter of focus but also of being able to function well without the chronic fatigue lowering my skill.

Robert A. Sloan, proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:30 PM
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snoball snoball is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

I generally try to cover the canvas in the first session and then build on that as an underpainting, refining with each layer.

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Old 02-27-2018, 05:55 PM
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bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

I have always been best when doing 2..3 hours of focused work in 1 sitting. After that, quality deteriorates. Most of the works I've done in my life have been substantially beyond this amount of time commitment. I am not a professional and still not a particularly fast painter, so for me, a "1 session painting" is likely to devolve to the trivial. Even some of the very small gift paintings I've given to family, have taken me 2 or 3 sittings to complete. I don't do those anymore either; I hope they like the ones they already got out of me.

The expected amount of time per painting is only going up. My last finished project from 3 years ago was a 40 hour piece. I expect the next one is going to be a 100 hour piece. A new level of focus and concentration, for which I will require an archival "will last for centuries" support to go with it.

I won't be selling the work, it is for me. I think that can partially explain why I'm not in the habit of getting stuff done really fast in 1 session. I probably could, for some limited subject matter that I've tackled a lot of times before, and had almost "rehearsed" what I would do. But I wouldn't. Rehearsed works, what I've done before, are not an artistic frontier for me.
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Old 03-01-2018, 01:52 PM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

Half a little at a time..... I do not have ever anything over 1 hour of free time to use.
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:17 AM
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Julian Jaymes Julian Jaymes is offline
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Re: All at once, or a little at a time?

I was going to say "both" or "neither" but have challenged myself to actually answer these challenging questions properly.

I'd say I'm actually in the first category - not that I'm a speed painter but because I tend to do "one sitting." If I have a painting to do, I'm going to spend about 4-8 hours just painting it, beginning to end. Sometimes, if I need to do something unavoidable, like work or occasionally sleep, I'll split it into two sessions, but I'll end up focused on the painting during that delay, so it's not often worth it, because I can't relax or focus on anything else until it's done! :P

I will say, however, that I do my sketching, inking, and painting in separate sessions. Not out of necessity - I could theoretically do it all in one go - but rather because I find that I'm more likely to catch those glaring "how did I miss that?!" errors if I have a couple days between working on "levels"/"stages" of a piece. Ie catching my dumb anatomy errors...though clearly I still don't always catch those. :P

I do recommend this practice, if it's at all possible. Just having a day away from a piece before you proceed to the next stage gives you fresh eyes with which to view it.

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