Artist Diaries: Finding the balance between “medium” and “crazy”

    Lower portion of the painting. I begin to experiment with greater emphasis on the lights and darks of this painting based on a photo I took while wandering the streets of Rome.

    Last week, Lee Hartman looked over at my painting from across the classroom and noted I had a “medium” painting. When she first declared this, I wasn’t sure what she meant. However, in general, I don’t particularly like the word “medium”. The word sounds like “average” and given that this was my fourth oil painting I guess any reasonable person would be happy with such a word to describe their efforts.

    However, I, being a little delusional, wanted to understand what she meant. Was it in reference to size, quality, subject matter or a technical art term?

    Pressed for clarification, Lee explained that naturally, the eye will try to even out the lights and darks of a piece of work as it seeks harmony. However, it is the emphasis of the different hues and shades which brings visual interest to a painting. I recalled walking down the sidewalks in San Francisco peering into the many art galleries, mesmerized by the colors that played around on the canvases. I had to agree with her. My painting lacked this she said.

    I understood the words she was saying to me, but I didn’t understand it at a visceral level glancing at my own painting. Lee noted that as I paint more, I should develop better control over my colors. I was glad I hit this challenge because it was the very challenge I sought, choosing a painting with many straight walls and different shadows.

    I spent an entire week thinking about what Lee said in spare moments. I do this with phrases that I disagree with or that come from people that I think are trying to give me a different perspective. I am not sure how it works, but somehow, if you think hard enough and will your brain to make sense of it…sometimes it does.

    The top right railings here are only sketched in this week with a script brush. Next week it should be fun to add dimension to these.

    I approached this week’s session with renewed vigor and I think I have made progress in bringing out more of the textures and shades of the painting. When I step back, I definitely notice a difference between the bottom left part of the painting and the upper right portion of the painting. Lee said it’s okay to experiment, “…just don’t get too crazy.”

    There is wisdom and experience in finding the balance.

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