Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What do you do when inspirations dry up?

As a painter, this is one of the most dreaded moments. For some reason or the other, there will come a time when you simply cannot put your thoughts on paper and turn that observation into a piece of art that you used to.

It can follow a personal crisis or during a particularly stressful period that concerns your working life. This is especially true when you are working full time and painting part-time. So what do you do?

In my personal experience, when you are faced with such a time, the best thing is to lay off your painting sets a while, maybe for a day or two. It will be a good thing not to force youself to paint because if you do, and the work comes out bad, you will be more disappointed with it than if you had not drawn or painted anything. And it just might be the trigger that you could abandon your work, for good.

On the extreme side of it, if you did not paint during a lull period, you might become too lazy to pick up the brush again, and end up abandoning your greatest love of all. Which is sad.

So, as a watercolourist, what do you do? Or rather, as an artist, when is your next logical step?

For me, I don't know about you and your methods may differ greatly, I normally change to sketchings and doodles. Sometimes, I even get hold of some pastel colours and start doing doodles as I would with watercolour of the things I see.

I would never pay much attention to the work, just sketching and doodling as I go, capturing only the shapes and colours, paying no special attention to getting everything right. This way, I found out, keeps my drawing instincts intact. It may come out as a work or art, or it may turn out to be rubbish.

Either way, you exercise your thoughts and keep them in good shape despite having a lull period. And when you have gained proper perspective to your woes, you will easily pick up your brush and paint that masterpiece again. Believe me, it works.

Have a good day - painting or otherwise!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Book Review: Painting Weathered Buildings in Pen Ink & Watercolour

This is one great book for beginning artists to painting pen and wash techniques. When you are not painting, and one rainy days, get hold of this book and read it cover to cover.

Claudia Nice shows you the various means of painting watercolour using the pen and wash techniques, from old barns to light houses; from old barn doors to moss-filled masonry.

The author covers her subject well, teaching the simple techniques like scratching the paper to show highlights to mixing dark washes to depict the building storm by the sea. Nice also mentions quite a bit on brushes as well as the colours used.

Best of all, she covers the subject of wooden subjects, from broken barn doors to timber fencing and aged wooden shakes. She teaches you how to paint the grey undercoat (and how to mix the colours) to inking the lines to depict wood grains.

I especially like the stonework part - a subject many of us painters would find difficult to paint. Here the author shows how easy it can be by obeying some simple rules.

This book can be obtained from local bookstores but is rare. However, there are two versions. Mine is the hardcover one which costs quite a bit. If you can't afford it, go for the softcover one.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Still Life in Watercolours

This is a painting (left) which I did many years ago, a still life subject of a bunch of banana and some chillies for contrast. The green fruit is a 'jambu air'.

Below, at right, is the photograph of the scene taken from another angle.

This piece was done in 2003 at a painting class conducted by art master Tang Tuck Kan at the Petronas Art Gallery at KLCC.

I almost forgot about this painting until I stumbled upon it again during spring cleaning.

Sometimes it is interesting to see one's progress in painting when one stumbles upon an old work.

I think many artists share the same view - and many more, after they have become successful, try to locate their paintings of old. Some of them successful in reacquiring their old paintings, sometimes disappointed in the process. But all that cannot be helped - artists need to eat and live too. Many sold their early works, albeit cheap, and then lived to regret it. But that is part of their life. A good artist needs to fill his stomach too, at whatever cost.