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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feeling Unispired? Look Back for a Change

'Take Me Home'               11x14             oil on board           ©Karen Margulis   purchase here $225
Did you ever face your blank canvas or paper ready to paint....but nothing inspires you?  You may have stacks of photos but sometimes none of them will do. How can that be!  It happens to me often. One of the habits I have gotten into is to set up my paper with a reference photo for a week's worth of paintings. Keep in mind I paint small daily paintings so I like to be prepared to save time.  Still sometimes I find myself uninspired by my choices.
Don't give up in frustration. I've got an idea for you to try.  Revisit your older work. You might have read about my own personal challenge to paint 5 small oil studies a week. I am doing this so I can get comfortable with a new medium.  But this idea will work even if you work in your usual medium and just want to improve your work.  We all have (or should have) personal goals for our work. Maybe we want to get looser and more painterly. Maybe we want to work on value or composition....whatever your personal goal ... you need to put in the time at the easel. See yesterday's post on painting Miles of Canvas.

So if you are at the easel but feeling uninspired look back on what you have already painted. Especially those paintings that pleased you. Take out an older painting or look at a photo of an older work, and use it as a springboard to a new painting. You can even start a series based on a previous painting.
  • Change the color palette
  • Change the light key...make it high or low key
  • Change the paper size and orientation
  • Do it over in a different medium
  • Try different underpaintings
  • Use a new paper or surface
These are just a few ideas on how you can 'repurpose' your older work. The best part is that you are starting your new painting with a head start. You are already intimate with the subject. Now you can let go and just have fun interpreting the subject in new and exciting ways

The larger oil painting was inspired by my 8x10 pastel (left)
My underpainting for the 11x14 oil
 A note on today's oil painting. I did an underpainting with oil paint thinned with Gamsol in the same way I would for an oil painting for pastel. Instead of pastel on top I just kept layering the paint. This is fun!


Lee McVey said...

I think this is a very good idea. This is what I have been doing for my oil painting--working from pastel plein air paintings. I'm finding it fun to revisit the same subject but in oil paint larger or with some compositional changes.

Julie Ford Oliver said...

Great tutorial. Thanks. I will use some of those hints.

Marian Fortunati said...

Great ideas Karen!!! Thanks...

Karen said...

Thanks Lee, I know it isn't a new idea but it makes it one less thing to try to figure out besides mixing colors!

Karen said...

Thanks Julie and Marian, If you think of other ideas I'd love to hear them!

Susan Roux said...

Lovely painting and a great post! I'm not usually lost for inspiration, but your suggestion would work for anyone!

robertsloan2art said...

Very cool idea. I know sometimes when I paint, I think, I want to do this again in a different size, medium or whatever. I see the variations in the subject and the first painting is just my first exploration of it.

So cool you wrote about this, and I love your example of the 8 x 10" pastel and 11" x 14" oil.