First I will tell you that this is all new to me. While I've created art since I was a small child I never really viewed it as something worthy of, or enriched by, developing a process. In fact, I adopted the belief somewhere along the way that a process could undermine or devalue the final product. I believed that in the realm of creative endeavors, spontaneity was the mark of the truly gifted artists. I believed that the only way to have fun and create was to wait for inspiration and constantly try new approaches. I am learning that I was right and I was so very wrong at the same time.
Since I have learned that having a process is critically important. Arguably in all walks of life the development of a reliable process allows us to perform complex tasks at high levels. It can even help us incorporate increasing levels of spontaneity. The practice of developing, incorporating and refining a process for creating art actually can help us improve much more rapidly then if we waited for inspiration or haphazardly react to circumstance in hopes for the opportunity to create.
My hope is that I am early into a long stretch of painting with more regularity. Thanks to some to some of the established artists who provide free instructional content like, Andrew Tischler, Kyle Buckland among others, I have grown to appreciate the value of having a process. Yes, it can help make me more productive. Yes, it does require the adoption of
required steps and stages that must be followed in most cases. Yet, it also creates freedom, more room for more creative expression and even spontaneity. Also, the process can change over time as we strive for higher levels of art and creativity.
My current process for painting in oils is rather simple:
Step 1: Envision a scene that I'd like to create
Step 2: Collect information (photos, memories, live observation, perspectives from others, etc.)
Step 3: Think about what types of composition could work best
Step 4: Create sketches that help create an arrangement to work from later when painting - focus on exploration of values when completing the sketch. Mainly light spaces, dark spaces, basic shapes and textures found throughout the scene. Look for ways to simplify the scene. You can see an example of one of my quick sketches below. I will use this in preparation for a painting I aim to complete this week for a neighbor of ours.
Step 5: Block in basic shapes with paper towel or larger brush immediately after toning surface. This typically will happen with one color - the color used to tone the canvas. Attempt to focus on darkest spots in the scene to define the composition.
Step 6: Refine the blocking by adding muted, neutral colors. Generally move from darkest to lightest. May perform a weaving effect moving back and forth from darkest to lightest. The work back from lightest to darkest again until the painting is nearly complete.
Step 7: Add final details. Correct any annoying mistakes. Add the brightest colors. Stop often to look at painting. Attempt to stop before you really want to - this may help overworking the painting.
This process will change over time. I am a novice having complete maybe fifteen paintings in oils in my whole life -- Twelve of which have been within the past two months. I have found in this time that my newly adopted process helps increase the odds that I will complete my paintings, feel an increased sense of confidence, feel more free to experiment with color and mark making.