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Thursday, August 27, 2015

10 minutes to Better Paintings

'Pawley Impression'                 5x7                 pastel             ©Karen Margulis
Do you want to create more painterly paintings?  Would you like to become a more confident painter?   Do you have 10 minutes a day to spare?  When I was working full time I was lucky if I could find any time to paint but I could always manage 10 minutes. What good can 10 minutes of painting do? The paintings in today's post are all 10 minute studies. Read on to see how they can help.

'Sea Days'        5x7         pastel
"Simplification is about finding large forms or planes, not minutia."  Ann Templeton

I believe the key to painterly work is to learn how to simplify the subject. If we can distill the subject into a collection of simple shapes and start with a good abstraction, we can then decide just how much detail we need to put in.  If we get caught up in the details we tend to tighten up and we can easily lose the freshness. How can we learn to simplify....that's where the 10 minutes comes in.

 I find that the more time I spend on a painting the more details I add and the 'tighter' my painting becomes.  If I want a fresh and loose painting I will stop before I think I am done and then I evaluate how much more I need. At this point I only allow myself one mark at a time. I want to quickly determine the big simple shapes and design of the painting and block them in.  Simplifying things quickly isn't magic it just takes practice...lots of it.  If you can devote 10 minutes a day to doing a quick study....your ability to simplify and paint with a quick and sure hand will improve. Here is a suggested exercise to try:
  • Set up a small area with precut paper size 5x7 or smaller. You should have quick and easy access to your supplies.
  • Have a stack of references photos...you don't want to spend your 10 minutes looking for  photo to paint.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes. Don't draw your scene with a pencil....block in your big shapes with a pastel or paint brush for oils/acrylics.  You will tend to fill in the lines if your drawing is to precise.
  • Don't worry so much about color for your 10 minute studies....go with you intuition and play with color. The idea is to simplify in these studies not match the color in your references.
  • At the end of 10 minutes STOP. Now look at your study and decide what you would add or take away.  Learn from each study!  Save them and use them for future paintings.


I love doing these quick 10 minute studies and I know that I learn so much from doing them.  The more you do the easier it will be to simplify and to avoid getting bogged down with minutia!


tammy said...

Thanks Karen - this is very helpful. :-)

lapicero 67 said...

Thank for all your effort in this blog. It is great moment every night to read your artcle and learn about art, pastel and life. Thank you so much.

robertsloan2art said...

Thanks for another wonderful article and idea. I need to do this. I've got the good paper for it and it would be so much fun to try to paint within that time limit. Learning to do two or three minute gesture drawings vastly improved my sketching, this will improve my painting too! Yours are always wonderful - and these are simpler than many of them, yet have a raw gorgeous power to them for all that!

Jean E. said...

Great article. As a new painter who works full time, finding 2-3 hours of time to piant is my greatest obstacle. Your comments on the 10 minute study can get me in front of the easel more often, learning to simplify and improving my skills to boot!

gideon sockpuppet said...

As my technical skills have improved, my paintings have tightened up. I need to do some ten minute paintings! Thanks.