Monday, January 7, 2008

"Into the Valley"


"Into the Valley", 11" x 14" oil on linen , 2008
$950. Framed, Available at Galeria Gardner

I have worked two days on this painting and it is time to stop.
For now at least.
My plan is to do a few small paintings along these lines. I think that this will make a nice larger painting, but I want to work with a couple of different compositions first and then go from there. I consider this a sketch for a larger painting, but also a finished painting in itself.
I like the opposition of lines in this one. I tried to emphasize the different directions of the hills and lines in the fields. I left the sky out completely. I am thinking that I will do another that pans back a bit to show a little sky.
Often, I will do a series of a few small pieces that might lead up to a larger painting. One of my reasons that I like to work this way is to be able to try a few different things without having to cram all of my ideas into one painting. It REALLY frustrates me when I overwork a painting. Once you go too far, you can never really recapture the freshness that was lost. I know this from having done it so many times. Working on a few versions of a piece can sometimes free me from feeling that I need to get it ALL just right. I can show a little restraint knowing that I can try it a little differently on a separate canvas. Another way that I try to keep myself from overworking a painting is to try and stop when I "THINK" it is about 90% "FINISHED". I'll set the painting aside for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. Usually I will find that what I "THOUGHT" was the remaining 10% is not really necessary.
Does that make sense?

8 comments:

Eric Orchard said...

I'm going to stop telling you how cool the compositions are because I'm realizing all your compositions are great and different. I love the confidence in the brush work here. Tony Mann, A drawing teacher of mine said " A monkey can draw, He just doesn't know when to stop. " Stopping short of overworking a piece is a great trick.

Frank Gardner said...

I wish I had stopped at some point along the way of day one. The brushwork was real strong. It took the rest of the day and day two to get it back to this.
It is a balance between listening to heart and head. Feeling with the right side of the brain and thinking with the left.
There is a good quote in the article about my workshop in American Artist Workshop. 'As one student lamented "The urge to paint details- it's stronger than me!" '
P.S. I'll be putting the PDF of that article on line soon for those of you who don't have the magazine.

Mike said...

Frank . . .you are so right on with this post. It really is learning to be satisfied and to accept what is so very near ones original intent. We often come close, but not to the actual intended result. Knowing when it is 'close enough' is part of the art, in my opinion.

We have to concentrate on the things we really admire, such as clean, harmonic color, solid value compositions, entertaining and useful line, textures that speak louder than detail etc.

In the classes I lead on design, I preach about Line, Size, Shape, Direction, Color, Value and Texture . . . .over and over and over . . .and frequently point out that details are in the list. If we can make those elements work well, we don't have to be excruciatingly explicit . . .as you have shown over and over again!

I about jumped out of my seat when I saw the complexity of this piece! Nice Job !

Ambera said...

I think you stopped at just the right moment Frank! It has an amazing depth and sense of distance, I love that the animals are dwarfed by the landscape. Very nice!

Frank Gardner said...

Right you are Mike. Thanks for the insightful comments.
I like that, "entertaining and useful line".

Frank Gardner said...

Glad you like it Ambera.

Joanne said...

Hi Frank,
Once again I love the composition and the subject of your painting. The advice to stop before you think you are done and wait a day or two is great advice...if you can stay out of the studio!I hate overworking pieces also. By the way, I have actually spent a day (should have been at least a week) in San Miguel de Allende. I loved the entire experience, and commented that I think I could actually live there, be inspired and happy as well as fit from walking everywhere. And yes, Banff National Park is just over an hour from my house, so the mountains are near. Looking forward to seeing the next piece you do.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Joanne. I usually have a few pieces going at once, so I can stay in the studio and just work on something else. Sometimes I let them sit for a day while I think about it, sometimes months.
Maybe you will make it back to San Miguel some day. It is a town that you can walk a lot and that is one of the things that I like about it.