Friday, May 2, 2008

How to Start a Painting?

"These Five Words in my Mind"
Polymer on Canvas, 60 x 50 inches
Jerry Lebo, 2008

“The progression of a painter’s work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be towards clarity: toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer.”

--Mark Rothko

I though this was a fitting quote for the above painting—and relates back to my own experience lately. As you know, I have making a radical change in my painting style over the last few months, and I have been getting a lot of questions as to “why”? The short answer can be found in the above quote—in that I felt a real need to simplify my work and eliminate the obstacles between what I was trying to say in my paintings—and to send that idea more directly to the observer.

The above painting, “These Five Words in my Mind” was motivated by a very simple idea that I had been thinking about for a few months—that is, how do words and colors relate? And could you make a painting that had the effect of words—in terms of evoking a response of the observer? And how could you change the colors and shapes to change the meaning and sensation of a painting?

Let me explain. Let’s say you have five words. There are a lot of different things you can say with those five words. Change one word, and you can chance the entire meaning of what you are saying. Take, for example, the two phrases, “I would hate to love you”, and “I would love to hate you”. These phrase contain the same six words—but you immediately feel different depending on which one is said. In a way, color is the same way. You can make a lot of different paintings with a set of five colors—and if you change one color, the entire sensation will also change. Of course, most paintings have dozens or thousands of colors—but do they need all of them? Which ones are important to send the meaning? And which ones will change the meaning of the painting—these are the questions I was asking myself when I thinking about the above painting.

For this painting, I purposely chose five colors you would probably never see reflected in water—and except the blue—would not likely make anybody think “water”. Then I tried to make a painting that said “water” on one hand through the subject matter—but in a very minimal way. In fact, the main purpose was to combine five colors into a certain sensation—that is to send a sensation through a certain color “note” or harmony. Also, I used shapes moving from larger to smaller (and hard edge to soft) to give the painting a sense of moving back in space—so that the five colors soon become “color”, “space”, and “sensation” all at the same time-(by combining in your eye)—just like a certain phrase would (or even five music notes) do as they are uttered or played. You cannot hear the individual words or notes—only feel the sensation. I know it probably all sounds pretty crazy—but that is what I was thinking about before I started this painting and while I was painting it—the sensation of five words running around my head.

Okay, so how does this relate to the subject of this post? Well, I have been thinking a lot about how paintings communicate and what that means for how artists might approach their paintings. One of the things I think is important is that an artist at least be clear about the motivation for painting before moving to the easel. I have heard instructors say that you must “have one idea” or that you should “focus on the main idea of the painting” while you paint. I have known that to be true based on my own experience. When I start to paint with one idea in mind (say, capturing the feeling of a sunset) and then start focusing on something else half way through (such as the the color of the mountains)—it is more than likely going to led to a bad painting. The fact is, that a successful paintings are those that deliver a clear message to the observer—as simply as possible. If the artist is not clear—how can he/she expect the observer to see it clearly?

So what does this mean for starting a painting? Well, obviously, I think the first step is to make sure you know what you want to say before you start a painting. That is, do you want to say something about something you are seeing, feeling, or something that pleases you visually? Keep that idea in your mind as you plan and work on the painting. Make it as simple as possible. My experience is this simple approach will lead to better outcomes. Successful paintings require a lot of pre-meditation. Many painters and students focus so much on the mechanics of painting—color mixing and drawing—they forget about the “why”.

So next time you are about to start a painting. Take a few moments to think about why you have chosen the subject. Ask some hard questions about what attracts you to that subject or landscape. Really work through your motivation for starting a painting—before you start mixing colors and drawing on the canvas—and stick with this idea throughout. Try to get that idea onto the canvas. When you step back from the canvas, ask yourself not if looks like the subject matter—but if it feels like it. Not if the drawing is good, but if the sensation is good. Does the figure feel like it is standing? Not is the gesture correct, but does it feel correct? Why is this important—because when the observer sees your work—this is what he/she will feel right away more than any amount of good drawing or careful color mixing. The idea or message of a painting comes to the viewer in one quick moment as a feeling (like five spoken words)—and so you need to be sure that you are communicating and assessing your paintings at that level.

Okay, I know this is a bit touchy feely for some of you. But I hope you got something out if it.

All the best, sixtyminuteartist.

33 comments:

American Genius said...

hey, that's a really good post.
Thanks

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks for reminding us to put on our thinking caps first before we paint. After practicing technique and "rules" it is good to plan and then let go and just paint. Your new style is a great demonstration of that.

jean benabou said...

Great post! It's always so important to be present and in the moment when painting...and not to over-intellectualize and then paralyze ones work.
I enjoyed reading your feelings about the subject!

Lorrie Drennan said...

I really like this post. I was playing with leftover paint the other day and the same phrase kept running through my mind while I was painting (and no, no drugs were involved). I wish it had been only five words, because I would have used it as the painting title...but it was a little wordy. I was playing with some really beautiful blues and greens and I just kept thinking over and over...It was really sort of weird....Ok here it is...."sitting on the bottom of the ocean waiting for a mermaid to come".
Everyone that has viewed it since then has had a different water-related impression.

Sheila said...

I love the idea of word play reflecting and communicating in painted works. I do think a painting is most attractive when it is visually and intellectually stimulating. I love this most recent painting of yours. I've seen a lot of your other works and your sky painting are some of my favorites but I have to say of all your works this one is my favorite. I love the movement of this painting. I love how it is fresh, reflective, calming yet stimulating to the eye, and colorful yet not overwhelming.

I am a beginning painter and find I have trouble staying focused on what I'm trying to say. I'm more drawn to the abstract than the actual. But I am trying different styles. I'm getting better at combining colors and shading but am having trouble applying and portraying texture in a satisfying manner. Thanks for such a great site. I read all your posts and practice applying your suggestions every chance I get.

Sheilathatsme.blogspot.com

James Butler said...

This is one of the best art related blogs I have seen. Lots of good practical information. Good work. Is there a directory somewhere for art related blogs??

Robby said...

Great post, but...I believe many painters and students, especially at most university art programs, are NOT focusing enough on the mechanics of painting, most notably drawing. It's as if having good technical skills condemns an artist to a life of creating "kitsch", while those artists that paint "to express themselves" are the only ones truly worthy of the title "artist", an idea unique to the twentieth century.

I don't believe one's drawings or paintings have to look like their subject matter, or even resemble it, but how well they're drawn or painted does affect their visceral impact just as much as why it was painted, if not more so. Of course, that's just my opinion, and you know what they say about those.

On a lighter note...I discovered your site this morning in The Artist's Magazine. Like you, I'm married with kids and a full-time job that makes finding time to paint a struggle. I just started blogging, which takes up even more time, but at least it's forcing me to finally start getting my stuff out there. Anyway, your site's a real inspiration. Keep up the good work!

sixtyminuteartist said...

Robby,

Thanks for your comment.

I go back and forth on the issue of drawing. I come from twenty years of classical training and am still a big proponent of teaching drawing to all visual artists--but perhaps for reasons that differ from some artist’s.

Drawing, at least in my mind, is a construct--a system to represent visual experience. As such, it has no special power or inherent importance over other ways of visual representation. Is being able to draw an apple realistically better than being able to draw a symbol or write the word? They are both just ways of conveying information visually-although perhaps drawing is more difficult to learn.

I think art schools that don't teach drawing are mainly trying to get students to find their own visual constructs for communicating--rather than repeating old ones such as representational drawing. The problem with that approach is that you really need to dig down deep into how visual sensations work and understand visual language before you start inventing your own--and drawing is a good way to do this. Being able to draw well can lead you to developing your own construct for visual communication--since you have taken the time to really understand someone else’s.

Jerry (sixtyminuteartist)

Robby said...

Very well put. I just feel that a lot of the people that denigrate drawing do so because they can't draw. Mixing color is an Achilles heel of mine, but I don't discount the importance of color just because I struggle with it. But I admit, being able to draw well isn't everything.

Picasso, who I've disliked with a passion for most of my life, has recently become one of my favorite artists, maybe even my favorite. I'm trying to follow his example in an attempt to soften my admittedly rigid views towards art. Though classically trained, he was more interested in self-discovery than painting "pretty pictures."

I enjoy painting in the classical tradition, but I'd also like to gain a better understanding of "what" I'm trying to say, as well as "why". But drawing has alway been easy for me, so I struggle against my tendency to always paint "pretty pictures". I'd like to loosen up, maybe even paint some abstract pieces, but I worry that people will think that I, for lack of a better word, suck. At some point, I'm going to have to learn to paint for me, and not everyone else. But it won't be easy.

Thanks for your reply, and for the example you set. By the way, I'm new to blogging so I'm not sure if my comments are too long. Should I be sending an email instead? Please excuse any etiquette faux pas.

Robby (oilandpigment.blogspot.com)

laura said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and I've really enjoyed and been stimulated by it. I like your questioning approach--gives me a lot to think about.
I like the painting too; I'm impressed by your description of how your developed it: it sounds difficult, but the painting doesn't show the effort; it's lovely.

Rhonda Hurwitz said...

this subject has been nagging at me recently, and you put it into words very eloquently. thanks for the post.

tracywall said...

Hi Jerry,
First time visiting your blog; found it via Clint Watson's. What a cool, thought-provoking site!

What a great reminder to keep in mind while you're creating what originally drew you to the image. Thanks for the spur!

In regards to your conversation w/ Robby, I understand how drawing is probably the basis for most all (at least 2D) art, but I guess I consider a drawing and a painting as differenty entities and not as one being created from the other. I see a drawing as being constructed with line, while a painting is constructed with shape.

Thanks again for your insight. I'll be back!

Marilyn M. King said...

Thanks so much for this subject! I constantly need to hear it as I am trying to "loosen up" and find myself focussed on technique and forgetting the emotional effect desired. After producing artwork for advertising and editorial publications for 20+ years, I'm finally attempting to learn to really paint. My university art degree in the 70's taught very little traditional instruction in painting technique and I've had to be my own teacher. After all these years focusing on the message and commercial purpose of art it is so stimulating and educational to find blogs like this to expand and direct my art journey. Thanks so much for you great amount of time you give to us through your site. Robby, I too am working full time (totally un-art-related now) and struggle with the time issue. I've only been blogging since last summer and have been so impressed how giving and willing to share so many artists are in this virtual art community. I always leave long comments. LOL

Karen Appleton said...

Great post, and a message that is so very important. Thanks for expressing it so well.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Jerry, you've really put a lot of work into your blog. Thanks. Very interesting reading. Great information.

JafaBrit's Art said...

I enjoyed your blog entry and seeing your painting.
I don't know if I consciously sit and think about what message I am saying with my work for others. However I do think people see a message because there is a passion behind my work, in the implementing of something that has moved me. Some of it people don't like (not their cup of tea) but even many of those have stated they find my work compelling in a weird way.
I am going to ponder on your blog entry.

regards Corrine

sexy said...

情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,按摩棒,跳蛋,充氣娃娃,情境坊歡愉用品,情趣用品,情人節禮物,情惑用品性易購,A片,視訊聊天室,視訊,視訊聊天,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,聊天室,UT聊天室,免費視訊,視訊交友,免費視訊聊天室

免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情色交友,免費AV,色情網站,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人影片,成人網站,A片,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,情色網,日本A片,免費A片下載,性愛

A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX

情趣用品,A片,免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情色交友,色情網站,免費AV,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人網站,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,成人影片,情色網


情趣用品,A片,免費A片,日本A片,A片下載,線上A片,成人電影,嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,微風成人區,成人文章,成人影城,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,臺灣情色網,色情,情色電影,色情遊戲,嘟嘟情人色網,麗的色遊戲,情色論壇,色情網站,一葉情貼圖片區,做愛,性愛,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,美女交友,做愛影片

av,情趣用品,a片,成人電影,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,成人文章,成人影城,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,情色電影,aio,av女優,AV,免費A片,日本a片,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,聊天室,美女交友,成人光碟

情趣用品.A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,情色電影,色情遊戲,色情網站,聊天室,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,免費A片,日本a片,a片下載,線上a片,av女優,av,成人電影,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,成人文章,成人影城,成人網站,自拍,尋夢園聊天室

Anonymous said...

underground hypnosis -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warcraft millionaire -
warcraft wealth -
warp speed fat loss -
webcomp analyst -
wedding speech 4u -
win back love -
your software website -
zox pro -
zygor guides -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
acne no more -
advanced defrag -
adware alert -
adware bot -
affiliate elite -
anti spyware -
anti spyware bot -
article bully -
art of approaching -
auto pilot profits -
bbq book -
blogging in action -
body building revealed -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
chopper tattoo -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
cure for tinnitus -

Anonymous said...

debt free in three -
driver checker -
duplicate file cleaner -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy member pro -
easy tv soft -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
end your tinnitus -
fap winner -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final sync -
final uninstaller -
firewall gold -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flatten your abs -
forex auto money -
forex auto pilot -
forex confidante -
game tester guide -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
healthy urban kitchen -
higher faster sports -
homebrew installer -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
i am big brother -
instant profit machine -
i want a teaching job -

Anonymous said...

joyful tomato -
lose man boobs -
lower body make over -
macro virus -
magic of making up -
make money taking surveys -
malware bot -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
meet your sweet -
moles warts removal -
money siphon system -
muscle gaining secrets -
my airfare secrets -
my miracle loans -
my out of control teen -
natural cancer treatments -
ovarian cyst cures -
pc optimizer pro -
piano for all -
prevent sweating -
privacy control -
publicrecordspro -
public records pro -
pvp bible -
quick article pro -
quit smoking today -
reg defense -
reg genie -
registry easy -
registry genius -
registry smart -
registry winner -
registry winner download -

Anonymous said...

reg tool -
relationship headquarters -
reverse mobile -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket japanese -
rotator cuff training -
satellite tv pc master -
secrets book -
spy no more -
spyware cease -
survey scout -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the guru assassin -
the power pause -
tmj help -
tonsil stones remedies -
turbulence training -
two minute profits -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
web traffic machines -
wedding speech 4u -
wind plans -
xp repair pro -
your fun business -
zygor guides -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
acne no more -
advanced defrag -
anti spyware bot -

Anonymous said...

art of approaching -
banish tinnitus -
beat eczema -
blood pressure normalized -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
cpa arbitrage -
creative date ideas -
debt free in three -
digital background -
dirty talking guide -
discus fish secrets -
duplicate file cleaner -
dw insider -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy tv soft -
easy web video -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
end your tinnitus -
error doctor -
evidence smart -
fap winner -
fat burning furnace -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final sync -
final uninstaller -
firewall gold -
fitness model program -
fit over 40 -
fit yummy yummy -

Anonymous said...

flatten your abs -
forex auto pilot -
gain opinion -
gold secrets -
government records -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
green diy energy -
healthy urban kitchen -
highest pay surveys -
holo think -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
i want a teaching job -
joyful tomato -
keyword elite -
learn photoshop videos -
lmt forex formula -
lower body make over -
macro virus -
malware bot -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
meet your sweet -
microcap millionaires -
moles warts removal -
money siphon system -
muscle gaining secrets -
my list strategy -
my phone riches -
natural cancer treatments -
online tv pc -
panic away -
pdf creator -

Anonymous said...

peel away ads -
pips leader -
ppc web spy -
prevent sweating -
privacy control -
publicrecordspro -
public records pro -
questions for couples -
quick article pro -
quick paid surveys -
quit smoking today -
reg defense -
registry winner -
reg tool -
reverse mobile -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket german -
rotator cuff training -
rss feeds submit -
satellite pc box -
save the marriage -
spy no more -
spyware stop -
super seduction power -
surefire trading challenge -
tattoo me now -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the dog food conspiracy -
the mini site formula -
tmj help -
tonsil stones remedies -
truth about abs -

Anonymous said...

twitter trick -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
wedding speech 4u -
win clear -
xbox 360 red light fix -
xp repair pro -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
advanced defrag -
alpha male system -
amazing cover letters -
anti spyware -
anti spyware bot -
article rewriter -
art of approaching -
auto cash system -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
bv cures -
calling men -
camera dollars -
carb rotation diet -
cash making power sites -
cb mall -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
credit secrets bible -
destroy hemorrhoids -
dirty talking guide -
dotcom income secrets -
duplicate file cleaner -

Anonymous said...

dvd copy pro -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy launcher -
easy system cleaner -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
eczema free forever -
end your tinnitus -
error nuker -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final sync -
firewall gold -
fitness model program -
fit over 40 -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
forex candlesticks made easy -
forex killer -
forex megadroid -
get rid of your cellulite -
g money pro -
google shadow -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
gov resources -
health biz in a box -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
hybrid water power -
i software tv -

Anonymous said...

joyful tomato -
keyword spy pro -
kingdom of pets -
macro virus -
malware bot -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
meet your sweet -
microcap millionaires -
moles warts removal -
mole wart removal -
muscle gaining secrets -
natural cure for yeast infection -
paid surveys etc -
panic away -
pdf creator -
public records pro -
quick article pro -
quick income blueprint -
quit smoking today -
ranking loophole -
reg clean -
reg defense -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry genius -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reg tool -
reverse mobile -
richard mackenzie direct -
rig worker -
rocket chinese -
rocket french -

Anonymous said...

rocket german -
rotator cuff training -
rss feeds submit -
save the marriage -
site builder elite -
six figure yearly 2009 -
sleep tracks -
sold in 21 days -
spyware stop -
stop being tired -
stop your hair loss -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
tonsil stones remedies -
top secret magic code -
truth about abs -
turbulence training -
turn your photos into cash -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
wedding speech 4u -
win clear -
xbox 360 red light fix -
xp repair pro -
1st promotion -
3 redlight fix -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
advanced defrag -
anti spyware -
anti spyware bot -
art of approaching -

Anonymous said...

banish rosacea -
blog lock down -
brad yates -
building a chicken coop -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
copy n profit -
credit secrets bible -
cure angular cheilitis -
cure morning sickness -
dirty talking guide -
domain tweak system -
dotcom income secrets -
duplicate file cleaner -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy launcher -
easy system cleaner -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
eczema free forever -
email finder -
energy 2 green -
error nuker -
evidence smart -
fat burning furnace -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final sync -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -

Anonymous said...

flattenyourabs -
forex enterprise -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
home job stop -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
how do i get him back -
hyper vre -
keyword spy pro -
kingdom of pets -
mafia war secrets -
malware bot -
master cleanse secrets -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
maximum paid surveys -
meet your sweet -
mobile tv pro -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
my dish biz -
one minute cure -
paid surveys online -
panic away -
pc tv 4 me -
pdf creator -
perfect optimizer -
pick the gender of your baby -
plr wholesaler -
private niche empire -
project quick cash -
public records pro -
pull your ex back -

Anonymous said...

quick article pro -
quit smoking today -
reality creation secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry fix -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reg tool -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rich garbage man -
rocket chinese -
rocket french -
seize cars -
shop until you drop -
six figure yearly 2009 -
sleep tracks -
spyware nuker -
spyware stop -
sunshine 4u -
the bad breath report -
the cash1234 system -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the free car -
the lazy marketer -
tonsil stones remedies -
truth about abs -
truth about diets -
turbulence training -
vincedelmontefitness -

Gowshika said...

What an exciting experience!/Hilarious! Delightful! True!/wonderful stuff! thank you!
oil painting on canvas

Cams said...

In expressing the ideas that you want to convey to your viewers is to know what you really want and what is the purpose of this painting. Painting is never that easy. You can't paint when you are stressed. If a painter is sad then automatically the one that will bump on his mind are the sad paints and that sadness of the paint would be seen by the viewers.