It is widely understood that if you wish to play a musical instrument well you must practice, practice, practice! The same is true for drawing and painting. It takes a lot of practice to keep one’s vision tuned and hand/eye coordination fluid. The more you do it, the more you create neural connections that become second nature. It’s really the power of habit and one of many reasons why keeping a daily sketchbook is so important. Artistic growth, however, is dependent upon a particular kind of practice. The old adage “growth comes only through continuous effort and struggle” reminds us that our practice can’t be unconscious. If we wish to grow, we must combat our deficiencies with continuous, intentional practice. In my own studio practice, I use small, daily studies that help me work through issues and better my larger oil paintings.
My new series Metopes & Friezes has presented challenges in both color and form.
Marble has a pearlescent color that is difficult to achieve with high chroma colors. The marble sculptures that serve as the inspiration for the series are also exquisitely carved by ancient masters whose expression of the human form far exceeds my own.
After many hours and multiple layers of glazes and tints, I am content with the results in these two paintings. However, as I began a painting twice their size, mixing the subtle colors and capturing the classical proportions between multiple figures became a problem I was just dancing around. I needed to practice with new colors and some figure studies.
I began painting animal bones rather inadvertently. I’ve collected bones since I was a child and painting them conjures a rich tapestry of personal history . I love the density and color of bones. They hold pearlescent color in strikingly similar ways as the marble friezes so I began painting skulls on a weekly basis to practice color mixing the illusive shimmer.
While practicing color mixing with bone paintings, I’ve balanced my intentional practices with figure sketches. These gestural paintings are done quickly to mimic the energy of a live model. The purpose of these studies is to capture the proportions organically.