Without fail during each and every painting, I came to the point of getting stuck. That, just can’t get the nose right, can’t get the hand right, can’t get the contrast right feeling. The two main situations where this happens are areas that require precise drawing and areas of subtle value/color.
In the past I have spent hours trying to work out a troublesome area. It becomes a battle between the painting and myself, “you aren’t going to win”, “I’m going to get this right if it’s the last thing I do”, my painting became my adversary instead of my ally.
For instance I was getting so single focused on getting a profile to stand out from the background that I didn’t notice that there were leaves behind it, which gave the face the contrast. Around painting number five I realized I was wasting a lot of time, and I didn’t have time to waste.
So I forced myself to move along, go to another, easier area and work instead. If I wasn’t making progress, but struggling in an area for more than 5 minutes…..I moved on. And I made a discovery, as the other parts of the painting were developed, the problem areas told me what they needed.
In the above painting my stuck area is circled in red. At first I couldn’t even guess at the value and color of the very subtle water area. It was one of those areas that could suffer from overworking, so I went for the more obvious figures. Once they were established the color and value of the sand was clear, moving toward the water, making the transitions, the water almost told me what it needed to be.
This one had two challenging areas. The dress in shadow – what are all those subtle tones? And the window at the back, I struggled with getting the temperature of the wall as compared to the window as well as the contrast.
I went for the most obvious area, the pink chairs in the distance, than moved outward, the rug was darker and warmer, the group of hanging dresses lighter and cooler than the rug, one step at a time until I worked up to the dress. Likewise working backward to the window, comparing one passage to the next, the window revealed what it needed.
This has helped me to pickup the pace of my painting, as well as keep the frustration to a minimum.