Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recipe for Success

Before we left on our trip up north last week, I had the opportunity to share my experience with the Grand Island Sketch Club. They're a great group of dedicated artists who meet once a month to learn from each other and invited guests.

I started out with a demonstration, which is how most classes begin. The goal is to share the kinds of techniques and decisions one makes on the way to a successful painting.

I liken the act of creating a painting to being a chef in the kitchen. Follow along carefully.

When a master baker creates a beautiful weding cake, they don't normally start by putting out the tiny, delicate sugar roses. Not if they want a happy bride and goom they don't.

A successful recipe follows a certain, proven order. The baker beats the eggs, softens the butter, sifts flour and adds the ingredients in the proper sequence using the proper tools. The oven is pre-heated, and the mix is baked for the right amount of time. Even cooling the cake layers is handled carefully, removing the cooked batter from the pan at just the right time and letting it stand to firm up properly.

Then the baker worries about the frosting, or fondant, or whatever. Only when the baker is certain the frosting looks just right does she bring out all the frou-frou, the little icing do-dads. Then, and only then, does she delicately place a few perfect little roses in just the right place. Voila!

You can't hurry those people. If they try to rush the process, or change the order, the cake goes soft in the middle, the fondant falls and the roses roll right onto the floor. It's an unhappy time.

It's really no different creating a painting.

Make certain you're working with a good recipe. Use the best tools available to you. Get the foundation of the painting correct before you move on. Is everything in the proper place? If not, now's the time to stop and correct anything you're not sure of. Rushing the process is extremely tempting because those sugar roses is where the fun is. That lovely flourish is what people see first and congratulate you for. Who wouldn't want to dive right in to the best part?

However, putting those roses on before the cake is ready is a recipe for trouble. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that pun.) Adding highlights and final marks to your painting before you've got your composition down solid, or before you've got your supporting shapes and values in will lead you to frustration.

Just a little recipe for success from my kitchen to yours.

I leave you with a lovely photo from my trip north. We're still basking in the relaxation of our time there.
Enjoy our view from the top of Sugar Mountain.

1 comment:

Preenie said...

So true,so true,so true!!! Excellent advice,Patty! This has to be the hardest part for me in producing art. I'll keep going though and pound this into the ol' brain : -)
See you soon!