Facing the Bugaboo

Last week I wrote about my bugaboogetting a wide range of values in my drawings and paintings. I’m always concerned that my darks are too dark. I worry that my lights are too light. I make many value scales for practice, and I read all I can about the importance of contrasts in art. I understand the principles involved.

Yet still, when it comes to implementing what I’ve practiced and learned, I struggle. It’s no different with my current bugaboo painting. That’s what I’m calling this, although I have given it a different title. There’s even a bit of a narrative thought behind this painting. Hopefully it will all come out as planned.

Here, side by side, are the original value underpainting I previously posted along with the current progress I’ve made. I’m working very slowly on this one, taking time to look at it, to step away and look at it again, to understand — intuitively, perhaps — what it wants and needs.

It’s very helpful for me to view these side by side. I’m currently not happy with the shape of the cloud mass. It’s beginning to morph into some huge Ghostbuster-type ectoplasm with arms reaching out. At my next painting session, as I continue working on this huge cloud, I will make a few corrections to the shape.

I’ve worked on the skies with cobalt blue and cerulean. The clouds — at this point — are done with titanium white and a smidgeon of rose, primarily toward the center.  Note: I’m having problems getting the colors to come out right in this photo of the canvas. The pink looks a bit yellowish here.

It’s primarily the skies that I’m focusing on now. I’ve truly never seen a sky the color of this one, and my logical brain is arguing with my artist brain. It’s too dark. Never mind the gorgeous colors. Never mind that glorious contrast between the light and the dark. The sky is all wrong, says my logic.

“But, that’s the whole point,” retorts the creative side. Yes, it’s supposed to be dramatic. It’s supposed to catch the viewer’s eye. But, isn’t it still supposed to be at least a somewhat accurate representation of nature? If I’m making a statement through my art, shouldn’t it be truthful?

I intend to work slowly on this painting, taking it one step at a time, putting my thoughts, my ideas, and my emotions onto the canvas. I do need help, though, as I face this old bugaboo of mine.

Is my sky too dark? Too unrealistic? I don’t know, and each side of my brain is giving me a different answer. So, what do YOU say? I will really appreciate all comments on this!


  1. Judith, I can’t tell if the sky is too dark or too light: I just like this painting. To me, it borders between impressionism and expressionism. Very interesting. In any case, I think your bugaboo “has left the building”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope that bugaboo goes far, far away. I’m looking forward to finishing this painting, but I do want to work slowly on it, taking it one step at a time to be sure it really “feels” right to me. I like the sky (still have to rework the cloud mass a bit). I’m worried though that others might say the colors are too unrealistic. I know, I know. I shouldn’t worry about what anybody else thinks, right? I appreciate your thoughts, and I’m glad you like what I’ve done so far. Thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m probably the worst person to comment on this as my paintings aren’t well-informed by the technical aspects of painting, many times to their detriment. On the other hand, my most popular paintings (and those I too like best) are the ones made when I’ve been able to get out of my head. I admire your wish to master the technical aspects of painting, but also support you finding freedom in the expression of your art. Whatever is for your highest good 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha. I know. It’s hard for me too. But when it happens, it’s wonderful. No matter the outcome of the painting. That’s my experience anyway, but I appreciate different things drive different people to create.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. “isn’t it still supposed to be at least a somewhat accurate representation of nature? If I’m making a statement through my art, shouldn’t it be truthful?”

    Except in magic moments, I tend to struggle with this, Judith. When I draw, I do tend to match up traditionally to that question. But when I paint, the medium I like is too mushy and textured and a truthful accurate representation for me is often a truthful emotionally accurate representation.

    Sometimes that jives with what a camera eye would see, sometimes it doesn’t 😊

    Beyond that, I think you’re in true artist no-man’s (or woman’s) land —

    ie, you’re making your own creative trail….

    For what it’s worth, I think the right side piece has a real power to it, probably due to keeping close to the values regardless of the colors applied ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to keep the sky dark… because for me that was one of the main reasons for doing this painting. I’m really working on those pesky values! If I’m criticized for it, so be it. I like what you said about creating emotionally accurate representations. That’s the key, I think. Thanks for sharing that wisdom.

      Liked by 1 person

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