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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.