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Exploring new ideas...

All of the paintings that you see on the Artwork page were painted directly from life. There are many advantages to working from life, like being able to see and reproduce subtle colors. Many colors don't show up accurately in reference photographs. But there are also disadvantages to painting directly from life. When painting outdoors, the light and shadow patterns change as the angle of the sun changes. Clouds can appear and completely alter the look of a scene when an artist is halfway through a painting. Because time is of the essence, it is not possible to use complex painting techniques, techniques that could otherwise give beautiful results with enough time to employ them. Painting outdoors also forces an artist to make snap judgments about the composition of a painting. These snap judgments can sometimes prove to be wrong after one has several days to look at the completed painting.

I've seen wonderful work done by artists who use sketches and written notes as reference. I've also seen beautiful paintings that were created entirely by the imagination of the artist, with no reference material whatsoever. Some artists use a combination of these two methods.

My current style of painting is very heavily influenced by my studies with Charles Sovek. While his excellent teaching and colorful, direct paintings will always be an inspiration to me, I want to explore other methods and styles of painting, to learn what they have to offer and to see what discoveries I'll make along the way.

The main impetus for my upcoming stylistic experimentation is what I discovered while developing the teaching material for my workshops Simplify Your Paintings 1, Simplify Your Paintings 2 and Finding Your Style. While developing these workshops, I became aware of a direct link between the simplification techniques that are used to create a painting and its resulting style and expression. I found that I could play around with style and expression by tinkering with the simplification techniques I employed; change the simplification technique and the style and expression of the painting change automatically.

Lately I'm finding a lot of inspiration in the work of artists who work in the movie industry, especially in the field of concept design. Concept designers develop the stylistic look of a movie, paint backgrounds or design characters for animation, and develop storyboards to show filmmakers how a story could be told most effectively from a visual standpoint. Many of the best artists I know of work in this area of the entertainment industry. I think that their ideas about how to create mood through composition and lighting are particularly interesting.

I'd like to try creating larger paintings indoors, by working from sketches done on location combined with working from memory. I feel working this way may allow me to fine-tune my compositions in a way I sometimes don't have time to when working from life. I also look forward to getting a chance to use some more complex painting techniques, like glazing with transparent colors, to increase the richness of the color effects in my work.

Please check back here for updates on how my stylistic experimentation is going and to see examples of the kinds of artistic concepts I'm exploring.