Tuesday, April 17, 2007
"From a Distance"
Oil on Canvas
Brushwork is an important part of my paintings. It's something that I'm always working to improve, and an area where I still have a lot to learn.
I'm not a slave to detail, and in real life my paintings are somewhat painterly. I believe that each brushstroke should be carefully placed, and that once placed on the canvas it should pretty much remain untouched (believing this doesn't mean that I am a master at adhering to it, of course - that's another matter).
One of my instructors was always on my case to spend more time looking and thinking, and less time actually putting paint on the canvas. He was right - whether painting plein air or in the studio, the more thought you put into each stroke, the less likely that you'll end up reworking things, or "noodling" on the canvas.
I've been really working on getting the texture of my paintings to have a certain quality, and I feel like I'm slowly making some progress. Lately, however, I've been getting annoyed at the way my support can affect the presentation of my brushwork. I typically paint on cotton canvas, and I'm getting more and more annoyed at the way the texture interferes with the look of my paintings. I know a lot of well known landscape artists only paint on linen, because they like the texture more, but my problem is I'm finding that I don't like texture at ALL.
In the detail below, you can see what I'm talking about. See how the brushtrokes on the mountain are thick and speak for themselves, but the sky above has canvas texture showing through? I know I'm being picky, but it drives me nuts! There's a lot of paint on that canvas, and I don't want to see that texture there.
I buy preprimed canvas, and I've started to put two extra coats of gesso on each canvas in order to take some of the tooth out of the canvas texture. It's time consuming, but it seems to be doing the trick. I'm thinking of switching to some type of smooth panel for smaller paintings, but I'm not sure what to do for large paintings. A 30x40" framed painting is heavy enough as is - I don't want to deal with the extra weight of a panel that size. Any suggestions?