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Old 10-11-2019, 11:23 PM
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Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

This watercolor sketch is with edits and reminders for a ďmaybeĒ planned watercolor. Iíve never painted from a photograph in the past, but this sketch is of one of my old photos that Iím using as a guide for a watercolor. I have never attempted a preliminary sketch and edit like this, but maybe this practice will prevent me from making my usual mistakes.

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Old 10-12-2019, 01:26 PM
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cliftonprince cliftonprince is offline
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

Great idea, thanks for sharing. I don't see why you (or I, or the rest of us) couldn't use this, or any other, form of note-taking to help plan ahead. Most famous artists have done similar, we (or THEY) just don't preserve the notes once the final work is done. I remember once taking elaborate notes, in pencil on sketchbook paper, about how I might go about glazing and re-glazing in order to bring about the effect of a certain multi-colored sky with clouds at sunset. First the reddish, then the blue, then blot out these blues but not these reds, then the blue again, then this that the other. I have NO IDEA what they said. Wonder if I could ever find that sketchbook with the notes in it and actually try it ... hmm ... I probably have a photo-record of that page SOMEWHERE in my myriad saved images ... hmm ...
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Old 10-21-2019, 07:46 PM
oldey oldey is offline
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

It looks a fine process plan. I use a lot of photos I have taken for references. Usually I do a number of small watercolor sketches (1/16 size) for a larger 1/4 sheet painting. I don't normally write on them though because I work from them straight away to the larger one so I remember the changes I want. If I put the project away, or was working multiple projects, I think writing notes on either the front of back would be helpful. It's kind of like having a pencil sketch book where you are working on composition, and value while making notes in it, only you are making notes on color pigments in watercolor sketches. It's a great idea.
I also sometimes write notes on the back of finished paintings esp to remember what paints or pigments I used.
but then at my age i don't remember what i had for lunch last week so notes can be helpful!!!!
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:13 PM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

I think its a good idea too, but I am not a note taker, I think for me its pretty much like oldey said ,,especially lately , I paint multiple little mine versions of the areas I expect trouble or am simply less confident,,,for the most part I havent re-painted many but I think its a great idea to paint the same pic over again to improve ,,,, I have one tree that is perfect in the photo but I have painted it four times this summer and have not nailed it,,,getting there though,,,, I do save all my failed attempts and from time to time pull them out and look at what went wrong ,,,lately I have been attempting to fix old mistakes with gouache,,,,I know Char and a few others put the pigment notes on the back and I wish I did that ,,,,
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:47 AM
RedcarUK RedcarUK is offline
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

I practice the techniques and colour mixing of the painting Iím going to do.

I donít do it for every painting, but always for bigger projects (and I do it for all of my gouache sketches as Iím very much a beginner there).

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Old 10-22-2019, 05:02 PM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

I have a small notebook in which I record which paints and papers I use for each serious (non-sketchbook) painting. I don't sign my work (on request I will sign the back), but when I sell a piece, I write a page briefly describing the work, and the archival paper and paints used, and explaining that works on paper can be even longer lasting than works on canvas, if properly framed. This, I sign and give to the buyer.

When I have an idea for improving a painting, or treatment of some feature, I usually try it out rather than writing notes. I find I don't paint as many pictures these days (largely because the hackers have finally destroyed--for now--all my methods for taking or keeping reference pix, as well as removing my access to existing ref photos), but I am very often working out in my mind how to achieve a certain effect. I feel I have mastered cumulus clouds, for example, but I keep trying to develop a method that will work for cirrus clouds. (Multiple cotton swabs fastened together?)
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:26 PM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

this is a interesting topic, I am glad to hear how others approach this
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:30 PM
oldey oldey is offline
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

Kaylen So am I. Also have things I do time and again trying to get it and there is a forest that I can't get right much like your tree!!!
Perhaps adding notes to my prelim paintings is something I should think about. I guess I do not because I do the prelims and then the final and don't mix up projects. However notes on the prelims may be helpful when I review them later as resource on a subsequent work. I have looked back on paintings and not remembered what I did so it took some time to figure out how to do the same with a similar subject.
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:20 PM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

In my pre-retirement life, I managed the electronic data for 8 manufacturing plants of a large Truck Manufacturer. My approach to problem solving was very linear and carefully documented. Attention to detail was paramount in ensuring that all computer systems were functioning as expected.

After many years of this day in and day out activity, it has followed me into my artwork. I am a planner. And, it doesn't detract from the spontaneity of my work because watercolour will always present its own challenges and direction.
  • I want my choices to speak to my viewers in some way. I have something to say, so it's important for me to convey my intent and my paintings are successful if my viewers "get" it.
  • After I choose my reference, I know that some amount of editing will be needed. I am not a slave to my photos, and when I've decided on the centre of interest, all other elements become secondary. Or, I often eliminate them entirely.
  • It's at this stage that I also study the values and colour.
  • Once I have edited my image, I size it to my desired size and then create a line drawing on my computer. I do most of my preliminary work on my computer as it allows me to document my steps in progress.
  • Transferring the line drawing to paper, I refine it as necessary. It's generally a very limited outline of the major shapes and important lines.
  • I work up a palette and paint the swatches onto a 5x7 piece of the same paper I'll be using in my painting. If I need to mix colour, I'll practice glazing, mixing and mingling those colours to decide what would be most effective.
  • If there are techniques that need to be practiced, I'll turn over the practice sheet and work on those.
  • A long time ago, admiring the freshness of others' paintings, I set a "no scrub" rule for myself. Because of this, I must carefully plan the order in which I paint... corrections always look overworked to me.
  • I title the painting. That's right. Before laying the first wash, I name my painting. It really does help me maintain my focus and intent!
  • And, finally, I get to paint. There's no particular order to where I begin, just wherever strikes my fancy working from light to dark. I'm always very careful to preserve my whites because I really hate resorting to masking fluid.
  • When I'm satisfied that I can do no more, I stop. I usually do this at a point where one more stroke would make no difference one way or the other. Then, I leave the painting to *cogitate* for awhile before signing it.
  • I often leave a painting on my easel for several days before deciding that it really is finished. Then, I'll snap a photo of it and have a look at it on my computer screen. This is when I can easily spot its failings. Sometimes, it's a simple as strengthening the value of a shadow or scratching out a highlight.

Now, all of this planning doesn't guarantee that what I put onto my paper matches what I initially envisioned. Watercolour will have its own way. I'll paint this subject again and again until I can get it to do what I want. Although, I must confess that there's a particular sunset I've painted four times without success.

Then, there's that one painting that I included in my last solo exhibition that I absolutely hated. It was a growth of heirloom tomatoes on the vine in a garden setting. The background would not cooperate with me. The greens were wrong despite my pre-workup. So, I painted the background black. It was some awful. And, it was one of the first paintings that sold!
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Old 10-24-2019, 01:36 PM
Catspeare Catspeare is offline
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

Char,

What an education it would be for fellow artists to watch you go through this planning process with a painting as you are working on it! Would it be possible for you to record the process, talking us through it step by step, illustrating each step with photos of the decisions you've made and how you have carried them out?

Seems to me that such a record could easily be turned into a PDF, or an e-Book, which could be used also with your own private students. What a gift for your students! I would buy the e-Book

Just a thought....
Cat
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:55 AM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

Hi Cat... thank you for your very kind comments. I've posted many "Classes" in the Learning Zone over the years and in each of them, I documented my process. There may be a little more "fluff" in those threads, but check out

When White Isn't White

A Light Lunch - Glazing with Juicey Colour! ó DEMO

Macro Floral ó Tutorial

Posterizing People

I'll be painting a full sheet portrait of five sweet little girls all dressed up in their Hallowe'en costumes. I'll document my steps in a little more detail if you can wait for me to finish up a couple other projects I have on the go.

Here's a teaser..

The reference photo.



There's too much going on in the background, so I cropped the photo in order to make the Girls more important.



I created a computerized line drawing, but frankly, didn't like it and didn't use it.



I had a problem with the foreground. I decided to remove the plants in front of the girls and then give them feet.



Ok... I have drawn out the Girls on my full sheet. I haven't photographed it yet and haven't decided on the palette. It actually seems pretty obvious to me, but I'll share it when I swatch it.

When I'm ready to paint this, I'll do it in a new thread and include the above photos. I hope this is what you were looking for in terms of documenting my planning process.
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Old 10-25-2019, 11:26 PM
Catspeare Catspeare is offline
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

Char, how wonderful of you! Thank you so much.

I am so excited to see this come together, but I will be patient while you finish your other projects.

And thank you for the other links which will keep me busy in the meanwhile.


Cat
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:39 AM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

I'm still too lazy to actually write the notes, but I think more and more this is a good idea,,,I do a lot of experimental doodles, that I try to then work into salvaged pictures, often I can save one close enough to see what it would need if it had been planned,,,I guess I do make notes, but mental ones,,,its probably a good practice to reverse engineer paintings you admire, but also a great tool for advancing , to re-paint your own near misses
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:31 PM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

I have learned to very much enjoy the planning process. Sometimes I end up writing up more notes than necessary, and maybe even never starting the painting! To the contrary, with drawing and dry media in the "graphic" or "draughtsman" style, I feel much more like I'm connected to the alla-prima nature of the material. But when I try to get all-aprima style with my watercolors, all that this does is frustrate me, because at least a LITTLE bit of pre-planning is absolutely REQUIRED for almost any decent effect in watercolor (or, it's required at my level of inability, at least). So, in light of the fact that I'm going to have to make at least a bit of plan no matter what, I seem to have gravitated toward valuing the making of that plan, or even over-valuing it. It's a whole new thing, this planning thing, which I don't get to indulge in, not very much, in the other media in which I work. So it has started to feel intrinsically watercolor-ish, to me, the idea of planning ahead. Is that backward?
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:12 AM
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Re: Breaking bad habits by planning ahead

Not long ago I caught myself throwing yet another failed painting attempt into the waste can. I then thought to myself ďJohn why throw away a chance to grade and correct your mistakesĒ. I am very prone to forgetfulness, so hopefully keeping a graded reminder of my mistakes will help prevent them reoccurring in the future.
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