Killing your Paint-Witch

Putting the "Pro" in procrastination.
Putting the “Pro” in procrastination.

Guess who is procrastinating this morning. This guy, that’s who. I really feel the need to write a blog post, as it has been a while and I am worried the blog might get stale and begin to mold if I don’t get an update in.

Every time I start a painting it feels like I am wondering around in a treacherous witch infested German forest. The scariest part is always in the beginning, when you have no map, no compass, and no pants. Nothing is as scary and daunting as a blank canvas. Over the years I have learned some techniques to help get you get your bearings, get you on the path, and avoid getting fattened up and eaten by some kind of Germanic candy hag.

It is always best to formulate a plan first, make some sketches in your sketchbook (use color if you can). This will give you a rough map through the forest ahead. The hardest thing when you begin is staring at a Blank canvas. My suggestion is to change it to a Not-Blank canvas. For some, that might be sketching your idea on the canvas (charcoal works well).

Picured: a Not-Blank Canvas

Personally I just hit that shit with some color, edge to edge just get some paint down. Sometimes it will even lead the imagination to new places, just from seeing the color and patterns. Easy, now the painting is already started and you barely had to think about it.

Every painting should have a witch, a bear, a witch-bear, or some kind of beast lurking inside. This is the dragon that needs slaying so you can be victorious in your work. This is the part of the painting that is the most challenging, maybe its a bunch of peanuts, a tricky nose, or a thousand snake scales. It may be the most challenging, but when your done, its going to be that one thing that makes the painting kick ass. Knowing your enemy is half the battle, so know your enemy get references you might need, print outs, practice techniques.

Now that you know your enemy, now you can map out the forest and develop your strategy. This is part can be daunting, take small steps and start blocking things in, don’t sweat the details, just get everything down spatially. You can fiddle with your tiny brushes later. Once everything is represented in the painting, you will know everything fits, and things look good. Now we can finally deal with that beast you have been avoiding.

Filling in the map
Filling in the map

Your confidence is high now. You know your territory, the beast is lurking still but now you have the skill to do battle. Time to end her world. Get a bit more detailed, work from the deepest part of the painting up to the surface. Battle your way from the background to foreground. Tackle the most difficult parts, the painting is almost done. This is usually the part where I work the fastest, I have my map in hand and I know every twist and turn in the path. I take stabs at the alien, then duck into the air vents to regroup. Then I come out strong and vanquish my foe.

The best thing you can do when painting is keep moving. Take small steps to carve out your turf, so when it comes time to do the difficult bits you have high confidence and you can power through while still having a load of fun.

Good luck out there!