The cure for [ detail ]

I have the tendency to get over excited when discussing certain topics. Then I start rambling on & on and forget to engage with others. Not a good habit, but I am working on it.

This could be said about the painting process too. How often have you been so excited about a subject you immediately got your paints and brushes out and started working?  Then finally when you were done stepped back and said: “What happened”?  You realize you over detailed areas and didn’t simplify or misjudged perspective and now your architectural structure or figure is obviously leaning.
Is this something you can identify with? I know I am guilty. I have old photos of past works to prove it.  Many other artists past or present will too. As I have read in a quote before: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Our ideas will often get lost between our minds and our hands. It is not enough to only get inspired; we must put into practice in order to try and see if we can reach success.  Painting from life is one of the best ways painters can learn to not include every detail they are seeing.  While outdoors we are reacting quickly and painting by observing. Actually this is true for any subject matter not only landscape painting. To really achieve growth in our craft we must paint and draw from life. Now on the contrary, photography is a wonderful tool. I use it all the time. But remember it is only a TOOL. Do not use it as a crutch. Our number one job as artists is to have our drawing skills perfected and know the proper value relationships to make a successful, engaging painting.  Color is important, but it is very personal so I will not make it a priority in this post.

I would like to wrap-up by mentioning I do not know of any replacements for painting and drawing from life. No tech tools out there can compensate for this. This process of working from life should be your incubator and then watch as your art flourishes naturally.  Go have fun out there this summer.

Summer Tips


I want to start this post, since I haven't written one in a while, by saying: How appreciative I am of everyone's continued support. Thank you! I really enjoy sharing what I have learned over the years. I put a lot of thought into every video tutorial and written post to make sure I deliver information that will hopefully help the aspiring painter all the way up to the seasoned ones. Please keep your comments coming and I will be sure to answer.

SUMMER is Here!

This is the season we wait for. As painters this is the time to head outdoors, set up our gear, and enjoy what nature has to offer. 

Depending upon your geographic location the sunlight stays longer above the horizon line, and for us artists this means longer days to learn from direct observation just like our masters did in the past. This is the season, so get out there. It only comes once a year. There are no filters between your eyes and the subject. Outdoor painting is just like working out to stay in shape. When working from life, our time in relationship to the sun is limited, so completing a piece can be challenging. We have to work from instinct and passion without thinking of detail. This is one of the best ways to become a looser painter.

 We all know adding to much detail into our paintings will not make it better, it can actually hurt it. Remember for a true artist painting outdoors is meant for observing and painting these notes on your canvas. It is not about painting a masterpiece. If you can, great, and I know many that do, but this is because they have always painted from life and going back to the studio was secondary. Usually I only to paint larger pieces from outdoor studies. Without these outdoor, smaller, observation pieces my larger studio work would lack light and atmosphere. We all know when we see these large or small beauties on museums walls. We are immediately drawn to them. It is the light that is shining in the the paining!
I hope all of you will get out there and enjoy this amazing season. Have fun observing without the pressure of creating a finished piece. When you have many months this winter, stuck in your studios, and you refer to these pieces you will no doubt have a great reference to work from.  Plus, the memories only will guide you through those long dark days without sunshine with a smile upon your face. 

PS: Here is a link to a previous post where I explain the importance of having the right outdoor gear can make the difference in how often you take the time to paint from life.