I’m loving my 31-day oil-painting project! I definitely have a lot of work to do on bare trees, but this is only my third day on the project. I think I will probably get better before the end of the month.
Here is my December 3 project, another painting inspired by George Inness:
My trees always tend to lean a bit, so I’ll work on that. I actually painted the tree on the left twice. I didn’t like it the first time, tried repainting, and probably just made more of a mess of it than it was.
I love the green trees in the painting, and I like the feeling of light and shadow. I’ll keep working on that, and I’ll continue to improve day by day. It’s nice to feel that I’m already seeing a little improvement.
As I painted this, I thought about my dear George Inness. Yes, he has so much to teach me, and it’s fun to imagine him here in my studio, standing beside me, watching over me, not correcting or chastising, but making an occasional suggestion or pointing out something I might want to try.
With my first three index-card oil paintings, I’m really learning a lot about colors and how to mix them on the canvas. I’m learning about values. I’m learning about creating illusions. Oh, I’m learning so much from this project!
Will I be able to take what I’m learning from these tiny little paintings and carry it over to my usual landscape painting? I hope so. I think so. While small-scale painting is different in many ways, the basic principles always apply in art, whether we’re painting miniatures or working on a grandiose scale.
Once again, I will happily recommend this 31-day “Index Card Art” project to anyone who wants to improve their drawing or painting skills. It doesn’t have to be about tonalism. You can create your own challenge with works from artists you love. It’s really amazing to realize how much you can gain by “shrinking” works of art down to the most essential elements. This project is definitely making me a more observant artist, and a more thoughtful one as I study different paintings and use them to inspire works of my own.
While none of my paintings look like the original George Inness landscapes that inspired them, I think his influence shows in each. At the same time, my style is coming through, and over and over again, I’m realizing how valuable it is for us to be who we are in all we do.
Drawing inspiration from other artists is beneficial. Learning from other artists will help us improve. But it’s only when we discover who we are that our art truly becomes our own. It’s fun to imagine George Inness standing beside me as I paint. I can happily say, “Welcome to my studio, Mr. Inness,” and say it with a smile, because that’s what it is, all right. It’s MY studio. A place where I can create MY art, explore MY style, and express MY love for the beauty of the earth.