Above is the original oil painting: They Walked Together and one of several preliminary drawings that I polished and published as a Limited Edition print with the title of They Walked Together Drawing.

In a previous post I recommended a procedure to “Push Past Your Creative Block” I emphasized time, place and steps to help you with the discipline and grit required for any creative project. Here I want to stress another aspect that I touched upon briefly: Insight.

Very often artist’s will sketch preliminary drawings to help them fine tune planning for a major oil. While evaluating these drawings helps you to move closer to the finished painting each one also represents a stopping point where you know that you are not quite there and you have hit a roadblock. At this point you need more insight but you can sit there and stare all night at the problem without making progress. The best thing to do at this point is to walk away and do anything else. Take a walk, take a nap, go fishing, pull weeds in the garden, or bake a cake! Do anything that keeps your mind away from the problem. Drink a beer, Relax, and have fun! Usually the insight will come out of the blue when you are NOT thinking about the problem. Suddenly an idea comes to mind and that is when you get your butt back to the project and get to work. I tell my students to work only until they are tired or have not made any progress for some time and I do as I say.

To illustrate: The oil painting above was completed after several drawings during which I reached the point of frustration and walked away but each break resulted in a new idea. For example, the drawing above was produced using my youngest daughter’s hand as the model. It was progress but not quite what I wanted to say. The insight came when I realized that this daughter was very independent and strong-willed. You can see these traits already in this very young hand. While I loved and admired these attributes I wanted a hand that conveyed the impression of dependency so as to contrast with the rough strength of the male hand. The youngest daughter used to take her sister by the hand and guide her through the dark night to the bathroom. So I used the hand of the second daughter as the model. Still, I really liked this sketch and later polished it up to a finished drawing and printed it as a Limited Edition which sold very well and was prefered by many. Another insight was to turn the hands from the side to the front emphasising the contrast still more. There is a final drawing executed before the oil was started but it sold many years ago before I started keeping a record of sales.

The painting and the drawing above have been used many times for programs like Elder Care Services and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Nothing pleases me more than to have my artwork used to further these causes. They Walked Together was the first painting where I used hands to symbolize a visual message. Since then they appear in much of my work over the years. I paint and draw whatever I am passionate about from facial portraits to flowers, animals, Landscapes, and anything else that blows me away and makes me want to show what I see and feel to others. The hands are a signature part of most of these subjects.

Yes, I need to tell you about who bought that painting and I will do so in the next post titled: They Walked Together finds a Home.


About artzent

I am a visual artist and teacher of Fine art working and teaching in all 2D media. You can see images of my work in many categories, view my biography,comment on artwork, see what's on the easel right now, and more when you go to I will be blogging here about personal true stories and sharing my life and work. I hope that you will comment and share yours with me!
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  1. lillianccc says:

    The painting is beautiful and the tip about insight? So true and applicable to everything! I find if I ever get stuck on something I’m working on, the best way truly is to just walk away and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Great post!

  2. artzent says:

    Thank you Lillian, It makes me very happy that you think so! I respect your writing so much that a compliment from you is an honor!

  3. This is the first time I am seeing these two works side-by-side, and the progression is very obvious. For me I have to be in a calm reflective state to allow ideas to come to me, but I like to have all of the variables around me while I do it. One other really interesting improvement in the full painting is the sense of motion that has been added by the characters. It adds to the idea of a walk where the drawing could be interpreted as still. Thanks for the post, I am glad you are doing this!!

    • artzent says:

      Nothing pleases me more than to have you approve of these post. The writing is not easy for me like it is for you but with practice I will improve. Yes,everyone has a different view of this painting but my intent was to show male/female,young/old,strength/dependence,and above all the caring of your grandfather for his grandchildren and the passing down of that caring. He was a wonderful person to everyone!

      Yes, there was a lot of thinking in spurts that went into this painting. Notice too that the black pants are a great background projection for the hands; another insight.

  4. Carol Marlene zent Mumford says:

    All my life I have hit a roadblock on certain problems that have come up. I though I was the only one to step back, wait and do nothing. all of a sudden my problem would come full circle and the answer would be right before my eyes. how wonderful for us to be able to do this.
    I had no Idea that there were two paintings or two daughters hands. Why did I not know this? Because I have only one of the paintings and have never heard the story before. thank you so much for writing this story. It means so much to me to hear the difference of the two paintings.
    I am so very proud of you my sister. Keep your blog going. I will read them over and over again. I love you so very much. You touched my heart in a very special way.
    Carol marlene zent mumford

    • artzent says:

      You sure can write a comment! It would take me half the day to write like this. I wish that you had the time for a blog.I am writing this blog in spite of it being like pulling teeth because many of these paintings have stories that I have not told and I feel the need to tell them now. I don’t really know why.
      You and I are so much alike that it is amazing. We could be twins with the connection that we have.You are always the one that I go to for the truth because I know that you will never let me down. I hope that you know that I will never let you down and I am totally proud of you!!!!love you always!!!!!!

  5. The vivid art work truly drives the point home!

  6. sojourner says:

    Hello June, I’m glad you’re back!
    I’m still too busy at work…can’t find time to write.

    Oh, I love your painting—the old and young hands together—beautiful!

    • artzent says:

      I know exactly what you mean; finding time to write when it’s more than just a conversation is hard not to mention trying to keep up with other blogs.But at least yours is worth the wait!!! Thank you for the lovely comment about the painting.

  7. AmbleAlong says:

    Sometimes you do need to step away in order to gain the needed perspective, and that is a really important tip that you are passing along to your students. What is a great story (and painting). I look forward to seeing and learning more from you!

    • artzent says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting and I am glad that I looked you up today.We will learn from each other, that’s what it is all about; and also connecting with like souls!

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