I’ve completed my “Skyglow” painting, and I’m very happy with it.
This is an instance where, unfortunately, the camera doesn’t do justice to the painting. It is truly stunning, if I do say so myself. In the photograph, the blending appears very streaky. When viewing the actual painting, the color transitions are much smoother.
The painting is not what I first imagined it would be. Originally I intended to make a tree line, perhaps even add a house or two in black silhouette. You may remember that I ran out of black paint, had ordered more, and was waiting for it to arrive. Well, guess what. The package was delayed.
Fortunately, however, fellow blogger and awesome artist Chris Ludke clued me in to how to mix my own rich, vibrant black — equal parts of burnt umber and ultramarine blue. So, that’s what I did. I loved the warmth I was getting in the black, so I added a touch more burnt umber.
As I started to work on the painting, my focus shifted. Instead of seeing distant trees, I saw a grassy field, with tall weeds poking up here and there. Again, the photo doesn’t do it justice, but instead of a solid black silhouette, I knew the painting needed a bit more warmth. I used light touches of terra rosa in the foreground, and the painting began to sing. At first it was only a quiet little voice, but it soon became a clear, strong voice singing a song of celebration, a song of praise for the new day, a song of pure joy.
For me, this painting is quite a triumph, not for the mastery of any technical skills or even for the mixing of the colors. (Thanks again, Chris, for the instruction). My triumph is one of knowing, and for me this is very significant.
What do I mean by knowing?
I’ve listened to several online oil painting instructors who in their teaching have said that good painting is largely a matter of listening to what a painting is saying. Step back, take a look, and see where the next brushstroke should go. Observe what’s happening and see what color the painting needs.
All excellent advice, I’m sure — for more experienced artists or for more intuitive artists. My paintings don’t speak to me. They don’t tell me what they need, and even with three years of painting experience now behind me, I’m still not able to look at a painting and know what it needs.
Until now. With this painting, I clearly heard its voice. I loved how it whispered for a touch of rose here, a little light there, please, and no, don’t touch that tall, overgrown stalk that’s reaching for the light.
So, in the end, I have a painting much different from the one I had in my head when I began. I love it. It’s gorgeous. I just wish you could really see it.