Friday, May 14, 2010

Dog Days-Dog in a Ball

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 9"

I am really looking forward to the upcoming Unleashed exhibit at McGowan Fine Art in Concord, NH! If you recall, it will be a fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League on NH. The opening is June 25th!

Here is Hatrick again in a copy of a smaller sketch I posted a few months ago. The original is not for sale for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is on canvas board which can be fun to work with but isn't a highly archival material. Secondly, I really like the painting and I am proud that I was able to complete a nice likeness of my Hattie from life.

Painting great work to keep doesn't pay the art supply bills however, so I decided to copy the little painting (on professional quality canvas) just to see what would happen. What are sketches for but practice and reference for more paintings anyway?

I will link back to the post of the original painting, but before I do, I urge you to take this opportunity to do something I couldn't while I painted it: Judge this work for itself, by itself.

The point of copying is to reproduce the original, isn't it? Well, it is at the beginning of the exercise. Whether an artist is copying another piece of art, a scene in front of them or an idea in her mind, eventually she must drop her original expectations and enjoy the current work for what it has become.

When I get frustrated with a plein air painting that isn't holding its own against the subject before me or a painting from references like this one, I know that it is time to stop. I leave the scene and hang the painting somewhere I will see it casually throughout the day.

One of my painting teachers called this "letting the painting sneak up on you," which seems silly, but that is what these works seem to do. I invite you to try it with a piece you have been struggling with. All of a sudden, you will see a great painting out of the corner of your eye and realize it was the same picture you hated last week. You haven't touched it, but it is now being judged without its inspiration next to it and you can see that you really created something wonderful after all.

Maybe this doesn't look exactly like the first painting, but it doesn't have to anymore. It is its own piece, and I kind of like it.

This painting will be available in June 2010!


Deb said...

Perfect advice - I don't know why some of us insist on reworking something until we are bleary eyed & frustrated. I learned this the hard way -

I now give myself permission to walk away. I even give myself permission to completely start over - even destroy a canvas or delete a digital piece. Somehow that seems to wipe the slate clean in my mind.

I also agree that copying a piece enables an artist to learn her/his own style in the process. I learned to draw that way!

Lovin' your blog! :)

Hannah Phelps said...

Thanks, Deb!

It is funny to think that when we are kids we are taught not to never quit, but sometimes "quitting" on a painting session or a whole piece is exactly what we should do.

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

This dog-in-a-ball is very charming! Loose brushwork is often the best.

I love to let my work sit around for awhile so that I can judge it better over time. Sometimes, something I thought I had done really well turns out to not withstand the test of time. Sometimes, something about which I was doubtful really starts looking pretty good after enough time passes. I hate having to show something too soon after I have made it!