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CosmicUnicorn's avatar
By CosmicUnicorn   |   Watch
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Published: November 12, 2012
Painting forever... and ever and ever.

I'm tired.
anonymous's avatar
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Sharpfang's avatar
"I'd never become a forester. I love the forest, and a forester is unable to see the forest, seeing only squares of timber plantation."

Watch out not to overfeed yourself.
Bernd01's avatar
Bernd01Student Digital Artist
This has been the story of my life this week as well. I have developed a strong hatred for the craft... But it's probably just frustration.
CosmicUnicorn's avatar
Work with the medium.

A lot of frustration comes from not being able to make the materials do what you want. Instead, alter your strategy so that you use the mediums natural behavior to your advantage.
Acquaint yourself with the medium through play--scribble, doodle, sketch. Play is learning without pressure. Like children at recess or wolf pups in the wild.
Familiarity inspires confidence.

I suggest spheres, as they are the essential geometric solid. Understanding how to correctly render the light (and shadow) on a sphere will help you immensely. Learn to "turn the form" (create the illusion that the surface is receding into shadow, coming into light).

What kind of paint?
Bernd01's avatar
Bernd01Student Digital Artist
Huh, that's quite philosophical, but it makes a lot of sense. To an extent I wanted to force myself to learn it rather than enjoy it. Which was probably the wrong mindset. But like you said I am very unfamiliar with how to even handle what seems to be the simplest of tasks with paint, which causes my frustration.

I never really learned or studied spheres when I was learning rendering in drawing, which was probably a mistake. But that's a fair point I might try that.

And I'm learning in Oil paints like yourself. Which is another cause for my anguish, since my only medium is terp, and it takes FOREVER for something simple to dry. I usually don't have enough time to work on a piece over time. And painting wet on wet in infuriating sometimes. I have been considering picking up some liquin.

If you're ok with talking art, this was my first painting that I put some effort in to, but I still did it in one sitting, [link] and I had a limited knowledge of color. I think it could use a lot more shifts in value. Which would help if the negative space wasn't white. But that was out of laziness and lack of time.

Now we have a final painting due, and we can do anything. I fell in love with this piece by ~BlitzPony [link] and its use of complaments. I was considering doing a study of it. But now I'm intrigued by your study of light and considering making my own, but full color palette is required for the project.

I love your "Observational Pony Study" piece though, It's really cool how the highlight on the left is so bright and really makes it pop and come forward, yet the details on the right are so subtle, and seem to recede, I can't tell if it's from the camera, but I really like the touch of blue in there on the right. Both in the background and on the pony. I remember that Cool colors recede and Warm colors do the opposite. When ever I see a subtle color like that I always want to add in a complement to contract it, like burnt sienna or something on the left hand side, either in the reflection or the background. But I think I just have a fascination with "Cool to Warm" composition.

But you're right. I definitely need to be having a lot more than that I currently am.

How do you keep painting fun for you?
CosmicUnicorn's avatar
What do you gain by forcing yourself to learn? Other than frustration?
When you enjoy something, you are involved in it... When you are involved? You are building understanding.

Never learned/studied spheres...? That's unfortunate...
You should do one every day. Nothing fancy, just ten or twenty minutes exercises; any medium (charcoal or paint is best). Great way to warm up. [link] [link]

Values are extremely important. If you don't have the right values, your colors will never turn out right.
You can't have color without light, and value is light.

If your paint is taking a long time to dry, you're using too much paint. Thin layers! Also, are you using a rag? Wipe off as much paint as you put down... You should also be wiping your brush constantly to keep it clean (and to remove excess paint).
If you want to add something to the paint to help speed up drying time, use linseed oil or gamsol. Linseed oil speeds up drying by about 10%... Keep some in a little jar, and just dip/touch your brush into it to help thin your paint down.

Also, paints can vary in their drying times.
Cadmiums are notoriously slow driers... Whites too.
The umbers and the iron colors are faster.

Generally, when I do a painting, I start with a monochrome sketch (in umber or transparent earth red). I paint it thinly, using linseed oil to spread the paint around and to keep it thin (but I'm careful not to let it get too wet/drippy). I use a rag to blend spots or to draw. Then I let it dry for twenty minutes or so, then I take my rag and wipe the whole canvas down... I'm left with a ghosted image of my sketch, and a nice ground/stain for the background. Then I go over it (still in monochrome), blocking in the shadow shapes and defining the values. Once I have a good underpainting, then I add color.
Plan, sketch, block-in, values, color.
Painting in this way helps to break up the process into "bite-size" portions... making it easier to handle overall. It's the process that matters most, not your end result.

When you paint in thin layers, as opposed to direct-painting in thicker layers, you preserve the luminosity of the paint... Thin paint has a translucent/transparent quality to it, whereas thick paint is more opaque.
Remember: fat over lean (thin layers first, then thick layers).

The photo of my observation pony study isn't very good (the background is flat black). Need to scan it...
I used titanium white (a cool white) and mars black (a warm black). And what you don't see, is a tiny bit of french ultramarine blue between the white and the black, to make the white and the black vibrate.
I'd recommend a similar observation study for you. A white object study is a valuable exercise, as the white reveals any color hidden in the lights or shadows.

First of all, art is work. A lot of work. Yes there's fun, but that's not the point. That being said... How do I keep painting fun for myself?

My approach to painting and drawing is rather analytical... I like to find the most efficient ways to do things or learn things.
I make a game out of the studies/exercises by designing them around a few "learning goals". I'll have a main purpose in mind (I want to focus on value, form, anatomy or color...etc.), and then my work will revolve around studying that.
For example: I started doing pony art because it was a fun and silly way to practice things like composition, narratives, and digital painting.

I like to detach myself from my work (because I am not my work). This allows me to be critical of my art, but prevents me from being critical about myself; and as any artist knows... the inner-critic is the biggest spirit-killer.

Mostly though? I do my best to be fearless.
Fear is what makes art not fun. Fear brings frustration, self-loathing, and stagnancy. Fear stalls understanding. As the Bene Gesserit say in Dune: "Fear is the mind-killer."
Fear of failure is the core of most fear (as an artist). Afraid that it doesn't look right, that the proportions are wrong, that it isn't good enough, that it's not how you wanted it... The list goes on.
Recognize that there is no time for fear, and that failure does not exist. Nothing is ever a failure as long as you learn something. You should be grateful for the the mistakes you make and recognize, because they tell you what you need to improve.

But mostly? I try to be as sincere as possible. Earnest work inspires pleasure and frustration... and with both come understanding.
CosmicUnicorn's avatar
I apologize if I sound repetitive... It's late/early which impairs my proofreading abilities...
Acceleron's avatar
AcceleronHobbyist Digital Artist
Painting is fun, but I have such a hard time with brushes, and colors. :|

Well theres always my old standby lineart! :)
Mn27's avatar
Mn27Hobbyist General Artist
Painting is fun!~
But exhausting and worth it in a same time(sort of)
fox914's avatar
You can do it! I believe in youuuu. I cannot wait to see the end results, especially after seeing all the awesome progress on tumblr. :D
Thanqol's avatar
ThanqolStudent Digital Artist

If you wanted a break you should have sinned less while you were alive!
Drakmire's avatar
I can't imagine what having to do what you're doing in traditional media is like. It's exhausting even with access to the eyedropper and infinite paints.
Auroriia's avatar
AuroriiaStudent Artist
Tea, Tea helps well with stuff like that, and music. Perhaps a symphony of science song by Carl Sagan.
RedPhyrex's avatar
RedPhyrexHobbyist Digital Artist
Perhaps indulge in a cup of cocoa and hit the hay for the evening.
kingofraggedy's avatar
Spike: Give it a rest, Twilight. Your studies (paintings, in this case) won't be going anywhere.
anonymous's avatar
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