I often find that a really successful painting works from whatever distance you view it from. Invariably, it will usually work better from a distance but often it will draw you in to look closer and still not disappoint. Less successful works however usually only work from a single viewpoint. This week’s efforts certainly fall into this category!
The setting, once again, is a square in Barcelona. The original scene was very complex and busy, so simplifying down was really important. I was particularly attracted to the play of light, and the very graphic quality of the planters in the foreground and how the light really picks out the rims. I spent quite a bit of time trying to draw these elements out in an effort to get the ellipses as accurate as possible. Other elements I only sketched in loosely and thought I’d try to tackle them as I went.
On this first effort, I got off on the wrong foot from the outset when I put a wash in for the rooftops when the sky was still damp and it cauliflowered up into the sky! I decided to persevere regardless to see what else I might learn on the way (I eventually raised the rooflines so I could paint over all of the cauliflowering!).
I painted quickly but think I confused ‘painting with confidence’ with ‘painting slapdash’ – and I think it shows too!
I think that the finished effort was so far away from my hopes and expectations that I needed to give this another go.
While this still has many flaws (most of them a little too obvious for my liking!) – from a distance it does read okay. The central umbrellas and background buildings are all much better, and it does convey the sense of a brightly lit square that I was after. As soon as it comes under any closer scrutiny however, it’s a different story! I think the handling of figures, although an improvement on the first effort, is still rudimentary and laboured.
What I have realised through this recent experience, however, is how far I’ve come with my painting. Not so long ago I would often do two, three or sometimes four versions of the same scene before producing something that I was reasonably satisfied with. More recently, however, I’ve often been able to stop after my first effort feeling sufficiently pleased to move on to another subject.
I suppose that, much like viewing a painting from a distance, taking a step back and looking at my painting trajectory from a distance is also a healthy thing to do every now and then!