Have you ever forgotten the basics? Ok I admit it. I have. And when you forget the building blocks – well – your painting can go sideways pretty fast.
I had a photo from a few years ago of an alley in Wiesbaden, Germany. It seemed like a pretty straightforward painting that would emphasize a one-point perspective. “Knowing that” I jumped ahead and began playing with color. It was all so easy right up until it wasn’t.
No matter how good your colors are, if the underlying structure/drawing is lousy – your painting will suffer. My buildings leaned and the perspective had gone into witness protection. Getting out my trusting knife I performed a “color-ectomy” scraping back to the bare canvas. An immediate improvement. In my state of “color-foria” I’d paid scant attention to the drawing phase of the painting. No matter how glorious the color – if the underlying structure is ugly, you are going to have a very hard time saving the painting.
I once heard a British military officer say there is a difference between a lesson captured and a lesson learned. A lesson captured means just that. You are aware of the error but you don’t alter your behavior. Whereas a lesson learned means you do something to change future outcomes. To that end, I’ve created a simple checklist of things to remember while painting and hung it just over the shoulder of any painting that sits on my easel. I’m sure it will morph over time as I do. A simple but effective reminder that the basics never truly go out of style.