Having a Point of View

This is a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially during this time of COVID-19. Not having all the options in my day has forced me to be more focused.

Why do I spend 80% of every day painting, thinking about what I am painting or what I’m going to paint next?

Because it’s very important to express my feelings about my subjects, I just have to get it out. But am I really, getting “it” out? Are they reflecting what is inside me or just a piece of canvas with paint on it representing three dimension on a two dimensional surface.

For many years that is just what was happening…looks like the subject….yeah, good work, repeat. At some point this was very boring, wasn’t I more interesting than that, come on, can’t I make it more about me and less about the subject. This sounds a bit selfish, but I think that is exactly what good painting is about, your personal point of view.

Below is a recent painting I just complete, “Help Wanted”, and the versions that were necessary steps to help me arrive at my authentic point of view.


The original photo. What I don’t like about it; the overall yellowish tone, Too much red in the lower section. This could take a nose dive into cuteness or sentiment. These things are fairly easy to overcome. Shift the color balance cooler and crop in the lower section. The sentimentality is going to be a conscious effort to not fall into what I’ve seen before.

Now for the really important stuff… what do I like, or why would I want to paint this, what’s my point of view? Looks like this you girl is waiting to be interviewed for a job. There is tension in her hands as she grips her purse, ( at least in one hand, I’ll have to re-gesture the other one) . Her face is tense and listless at once. Her blouse is a little too big maybe borrowed from someone, the hat sits at an awkward angle. Obviously not something she has worn much.

I’ve been there! Wearing uncomfortable “dress-up” clothes,trying to get a job, feeling in a trance because the Manager was too busy with important stuff to give me the time of day. An uneasy situation for sure.dan111

Above, exploring my options. I could give her a dark jacket and gloves, add something dark to the left. Taking the color out of it, turning it to pure value can help with design decisions. How am I going to fill the space in an interesting way?


At this point I reconnected with my purpose and it was not working, why? The attitude of the hands and expression in the face were lost. The ground and her skirt were more interesting, not my intention. What do I do now?

Could put it in the failed paintings pile and move on to something else…or….really learn something and figure out how to turn it around.

She needs to be bigger in the story, crop in closer to really see her face and hands, Back to the light blouse and hands with no gloves, just attack it and make it behave!


The beginning of the “right” thing over the “wrong” thing”. It’s a little confusing to just paint over something else, but makes you realize, this is about you, you can do anything you want to, that’s freeing!


This is what I wanted to say, my point of view. There could be hundreds of others, but this one is mine.


The Lighter Side of Dark

This subject was a challenge in values. My goal was to keep the foreground in shadow, making it dark enough to read “shadow” while light enough so that some subtle color interactions would be visible. Staying on “the lighter side of dark” was where I wanted to be.

HerFav1When holding things together is one of the major concerns, I like to paint a harmonizing tone on the canvas, in this case it’s a warm gray mixture of Viridian Green, Permanent Rose, Cobalt blue, Cadmium Yellow and White.

After the whole canvas was covered I started wiping back some simple lines to get my bearings. This works so much better for me than a line drawing. An accurate drawing in the beginning has given me a false sense of security in the past. As the painting progresses, suppressing some areas while exaggerating others for the good of the image, renders the accurate drawing visually inaccurate.

The wiping away approach is more instinctive and flexible, looking at the whole for what the painting needs. It almost feels like sculpting, carving out blocks of color.

HerFav2Beginning to rough in the big masses. Keeping the values a little on the  lighter side, it’s so easy to go darker and darker, before you know it, you’re digging out of the abyss of a too dark painting.

HerFav3Working around the painting, developing more areas, I can see the need for more darks now, because things don’t look grounded enough. I played with bringing the red fan shape to the right also, but don’t like it, now I have a symmetrical “bulls eye” in the middle of the painting.

Her Favorite Book by Diane Eugster
Her Favorite Book by Diane Eugster

And finally; taking the light in the window as high value as I could while still being able to get a blue tint, while getting a solid feel in the foreground with heavier paint and some darker accents.