Tuesday, January 31, 2017

30 Paintings in 30 Days Wrap Up

Yay, I made it through my month of daily painting! Here are some of the things I will take away from January.

1) PRACTICE is always necessary to establish new habits. This month of breaking down lights and darks every day has me in the habit of breaking down everything I see into value masses. Now I need to practice condensing these studies into 5 minute planning exercises rather than 1 hour completed thoughts. But hooray for teaching an old dog new tricks!

2) I find myself playing more with contrast as as tool for emphasis and consciously manipulating the focal points in paintings.

3) I finally cracked into the “world’s most boring photo album," which is what I call my collection of source photos. It’s a book full of blurry trees, empty fields, and falling down houses. I’m glad to test and evaluate them (rather than simply accumulate them) because not everything makes a good painting. Often the especially bad photos make great paintings. I took a stab at 30 with reasonably good results (and dumped many stinkers that simply did not work out no matter what I tried).

4) Architecture and water are not subjects I’m super comfortable handling, so I made a point of including them in the project with satisfactory results. If there’s subject matter I’m not painting, I want it to be because I choose not to paint it, not because I am unable to do so.

5) Not a lesson learned, but here's a little slideshow of the project set to music. Enjoy!

6) These paintings are preliminary drawings in which I have worked out the value and compositional problems and analyzed strengths and weaknesses. I will use them as stepping stones to new work. And although when I told my husband he responded with shock and horror, I am going to paint over many of them in color. Below is a demonstration I used with a student to show you what I mean:

See, I took the sketch from monochromatic to full color and left little bits of burnt sienna underpainting peeking through. Does that make sense?

7) I'm a bit apprehensive about diving back into color. I went out plein air painting early Sunday morning and, well, ...

...splat. It's all right, but I need to reevaluate my supplies. I simply was not getting the colors I wanted. I have been using more or less the same limited palette (the same 6 tubes of paint) for several years, and those choices need some adjustment as I move into spring, which is prime plein air season.

If my little project has piqued your interest in value studies, monochromatic painting, underpainting, or en grisaille painting, here are a few references to check out:

* Georgetown Atellier's monochromatic painting study

* David Kessler's article "Value Studies"

* Darren Rousar's article "Grisaille or Underpainting?"

* The Savvy Painter Podcast interview with John Hull (part 1 and part 2)

* Frederic Remington's Nocturnes

* Interview of Susan Abbott on Painting Perceptions blog

Information about the planning of this project is here. If you're a new visitor, I also have a fine art website and a Facebook page.

Thanks, again, for following along with my progress this month. And happy painting!


  1. What a great project you had ! Seeing all your daily paintings at once is so interesting!
    Congratulations Barb !

  2. Terrific month! Terrific video! I thought you had painted more of the cobalt, but I guess those stand out, because that is a favorite color :) You collage is nicely balanced. Thanks for sharing the links, I will have to come back to them, but I look forward to it. Thanks for showing the piece you took to full color, it does make sense :) Happy painting to you Barb :)