Before Christmas, at a weekly life class, I painted a large nude in acrylics. It was a good pose and the lighting was interesting, but the result looked clumsy and unconvincing. My key problem is in the quality of mark-making. In other words, my brushstrokes and choice of colour aren’t right.
So, during the Christmas period I thought I’d have a go at improving on this first attempt by painting over it in oils. Of course I wouldn’t have the model in front of me, but I thought I could work with a photograph of my original acrylic picture for reference. In the end I painted over parts of the original twice, but the picture got worse not better. It is still clumsy and she doesn’t look is if she if made from flesh. So I’ll paint over the canvas with primer and move on to my next project.
I’ve called this post ‘Synthesis’ because in these pictures I have been trying to capture the image using as few brushstrokes as possible; ie. making each mark really count. It’s hard to do. I picked up on the term from ‘Still life in oils’ by Jose M. Parramon, which is a useful little book on oil painting technique.
He says, ‘The ability to create synthesis in drawing or painting is really a case of being able to see and draw or paint the most important parts of a subject, eliminating detail and non essentials. It is not easy and requires deep knowledge of painting technique. It also means painting with freedom, spontaneity, elegance, and with understanding of the subject and your materials.’
After doing this exercise, I understand what he means, now I need to start putting it into practice.