Warming up with a study

When I schedule a studio day and do not have a particular plan, sometimes it takes a while to get started. The first step  normally includes reviewing my growing file of reference photos, if something excites me, the next step is a simple sketch or notan ( a value study using 3 gray scale markers). This prep allows me to become engaged in the act of painting. If I am still not ready to dive in to a full sized pastel painting, I will do a small study of the scene to “warm-up”.  At this point, I am usually ready to dive in, but there have been times when I simply abandon the small painting, opting to begin the process from step one.

Familiar Path 4" x 4" pastel study

Familiar Path
4″ x 4″ pastel study

The Blue Beyond 16" x 17" Pastel Painting

The Blue Beyond
16″ x 17″ Pastel Painting

However if the “warm-up” is successful, I am encouraged to move ahead with a full sized pastel painting. As you can see from the photos in this post, my small study, titled Familiar Path, measuring 4” x 4” is really just the composition with big shapes. The full sized painting … The Blue Beyond measures 16” x 18”.  I chose to adjust the horizon line, showing more of the foreground and less sky. If you ask me, either composition works.

For me, painting is a lot like exercising; to get the most out of the experience, you need to warm up and the cool down. Today I have shared my warm up routine. Join me next time as we discuss stepping back from the painting and accessing what works and what needs attention before considering a completed painting.  I refer to this as the “cool down crtitque”.