Friday, February 26, 2010

Subject Matters

Here's a painting I've been working on.  Sometimes, I get a notion in my head that I want to
paint something and have to try for it.  This photo isn't perfect,(there's some weird color thing going on in the trees that isn't in the real thing) but close enough otherwise, and I wanted
to show it to you for this discussion.
I love draft horses, by the way. And I love watching the teamwork and relationship between the driver (or, in this case, the farmer) and the horses.  I almost titled this one "Team of Four" because you can bet that the old dog trotting along beside believes that it is his job to be right there.
Anyway, I've been working on getting better paint quality - more variety of brushstrokes,  both opaque and transparent passages, etc.  And also trying to work looser, and skillfully suggest things rather than laboriously detail them.   (that's the whole idea, right?)
 But I found when I started on this particular painting, that the subject required a certain degree of finish to work.  With the teams' harnesses being rather involved, there is a certain level of detail that  was necessary to make them believeable.   A person looking at this painting needs to see enough of the harness to know what it is - it couldn't really be just suggested.  The kind of person who might buy a painting like this, will likely be familiar with the subject matter, and so it has to have at least some authenticity.  Although the background trees are less highly finished and more suggested, they too seemed to require a bit more concentration of effort to make them work.

So I guess the lesson in today's post is that the subject matters.   If this had been a broader view with the team at a greater distance, then suggestion would have worked. But, in this view, as the main focus, they
needed to have a level of finish and authenticity to make them work.  For something like this, it is also probably a good idea to paint things that you are familiar with, otherwise the necessary accuracy will be hard to come by.  I will probably never paint boats for that reason!  Or industrial equipment.

I'm off for a few days down to Virginia for a race - looks like we're going to be running in snow. They've had quite a bit this winter.