All content copyright Peter Sansom
To help yourself produce memorable final pieces of work I am going to be encouraging you to spend more time on two under worked aspects of the creative process in our lessons up until now. The aim of both extra steps is to try and make sure that you run into fewer problems or mistakes when you are actually working on a final large scale piece of work. Both steps are extra preparation, they may slow you slightly in getting as far as the final piece of work, but the rewards will be worth it!
1. Drawing and planning out possible compositions
(For this element is suggest very strongly that you buy yourself a sketchbook, an A4 or A5 hardback bound book would be perfect).
Whatever the theme or assignment you are working on you may well be gathering material such as photographs or prints from the Internet. This sort of source material is ideally added to this ideas book as a sort reference point for the assignment. Having gathered any of this sort of material, the next is where the book really starts to become important.
You probably have a collection of ideas, of possibilities that may or may not in the end appear in the final piece of work. You could just start painting and hope for the best....it may work out. But for any one idea there are many ways that it could be developed into a final piece of work. The idea in this case is to make a series of drawings that explore some of the possibilities. The drawings do not have to be great works of art, they can be really simple little experiments in composition and arrangement.
You may feel that you already know exactly how it needs to be, but push yourself to make a few other variations on your ideas.
While you are experimenting like this don't be afraid to experiment and try ideas that might feel a little crazy or maybe just a small variation on a drawing you already have. At this stage you can explore so many variations, each one might only take a minute to draw.
As you move towards a what looks like your final plan also experiment with how you frame the composition, are there less interesting parts that you can simply get rid of. Sketch the same design four times and try framing the composition in four different ways for example.
As anyone who has ever painted knows, colour and contrast can be very important in the success of a painting. But when starting a large oil painting it can be difficult to decide exactly how you are going to approach the composition in terms of colour and tone. Again, it is possible just to start and see where it goes, but there is a lot to be said for a more strategic approach.
If you have a clear idea about the structure of a composition try sketching it out three or four times on a piece of paper. If you want to do this in oil paint that is fine but make sure that it is primed paper. Then take your palette and brushes and make a number of sketch versions of the composition. Work on them all at once, it will make you less precious about any individual version. Experiment and try out different ideas, tones and colours.
Be warned many of these paintings might well end up in the bin, but once in a while something really special appears......the challenge is then to take some of its qualities into the final large version!
The idea of both these preparatory steps is to avoid mistakes and blind alleys in your final version of your painting. Some of the preparation work can be done at home if you have the time. Otherwise, during the lesson is of course fine, you'll get the usual feedback from others! But by time you make a start on the large version you will have a better idea of where you are going. This is of course not to say that things won't change again as you start to work on the final piece, they will, but you will know your own composition far better and what the possibilities are.
When looking for ideas and inspiration don’t just use Google and hope you find something. Use a website like the excellent WikiArt.
Here the sorting has already been done for you.
Or try the apps:
WikiArt (ipad, iphone)
2. Sketch paintings to experiment with colour and contrast
Pushing the creative