Monday, May 2, 2011

Mood, Color and Design

I have a note taped to my studio wall that says:


I make a conscious effort to remember these basic elements as I paint.  Lots of not-too-bad paintings get turped out if I don't feel they are a step towards fulfilling my goal.  Painting never seems to get any easier - always a struggle!

This is an unfinished painting - still untitled - 20" x 20" oil on canvas.  The bird is a Gambel's Quail, very unfinished. The painting is at the point where I lean it against the studio wall for a couple of days so I can sneak a look at it while working on something else.  After a day or two I start to see what the painting needs.  In this case, the foreground was looking too busy so I used a wide brush stroke and darker value paint to simplify the areas that bothered  me.   Now I am can see a 'U' shape across the bottom of the painting formed by these darker brush strokes that I've got to get rid of.  I think a few carefully placed, bright, light strands of grass will solve the problem.  Then I  must finish the quail and I think the painting will be done!

I almost always photograph a painting before it is finished so that I can look at it on the computer.  I flip it horizontally so I can see the mirror image of it (a mirror works as well!). This helps me pin-point problem areas as does reducing the size so I can see the painting much smaller.  I use this to figure out compositional problems.  I like this painting flipped and reduced so once the foreground issues are resolved and the quail is finished, I think I'll have a nice painting! 


  1. Adele, it is a beautiful painting. For some reason, I remembered your "mantra" as "mood, color, light". Your painting definitely fulfills both versions of the qualifications. Love it!!!

  2. The painting is wonderful, and certainly fulfills your qualifiers of "mood, color, design", which for some reason I interpreted as "mood, color, light" Beautiful work, Adele!

  3. Thanks for sharing your process.

  4. I do the same thing with my larger works and still lifes. (photographing them) It helps me see what I need to do to finish it. Wierd how seeing it upside down or in a photo can help us see what else needs to be done. This is coming along so beautifully! Nice work!

  5. Very good advice for a beginner like me. Thanks for posting this.