Oil on Canvas: What I'm Up To

8 Mar 2011

Study for Pandora by Patty Watwood, oil on canvas, 2010
Study for Pandora, oil on canvas, 2010.
All works by Patricia Watwood.
For the past six months, I have been working away at a new series of figure paintings.  Over the next weeks and months, I will tell you more about each of them, and the steps involved in my creative process as I design and execute an oil painting--art practices and techniques that work, and some that don't.

One of the things that I decided to do differently this time around is I am working on several paintings simultaneously. In the past, I would make a small study, and then gone immediately to paint it on a large canvas. Doing several pictures at the same time gives me a bit more critical distance on each one. I am able to step back and ask myself, “Is this really what I am going to commit my time to working on?” and “How does it fit with my body of work in the larger sense?”

I still consider myself “emerging” in terms of defining my subject matter and intention, and shaping my “voice” as an artist. So, I want to be thoughtful about how my current work defines me as an artist. Furthermore, I am trying to stay focused on my artistic aspirations while I play to my strengths. Lastly, I am thinking about how the oil paintings would work together in a show, and how to express a larger theme with various pictures on canvas. Art is funny that way--paintings made together tend to have a dialogue that may not be there if the works are created one by one.

Study for In the Garden, oil on canvas, 2010.  	 	 The other difference in my recent practice is that I am spending a much longer time on the small studies that I will develop into larger works. This is forcing me to think more critically, in an earlier stage, about the exact composition and construction of each picture. It also illuminates the problems that I might face when I put oil on canvas, and forces me to address them earlier on in the process. Frankly, it is much easier to scrape out and paint over an entire arm, foot, or head when it’s on a small scale than when you are faced with a large canvas, and so this is the stage of an oil painting where I am freer to edit, rework and critique my own work.  Here are three small paintings that I have developed as studies for paintings. Next time, I'll tell you more about the development of each of them. Leave me questions or comments about them--I'd love to discuss!  --Patricia
Study for In the Garden,
oil on canvas, 2010.
The other difference in my recent practice is that I am spending a much longer time on the small studies that I will develop into larger works. This is forcing me to think more critically, in an earlier stage, about the exact composition and construction of each picture. It also illuminates the problems that I might face when I put oil on canvas, and forces me to address them earlier on in the process. Frankly, it is much easier to scrape out and paint over an entire arm, foot, or head when it’s on a small scale than when you are faced with a large canvas, and so this is the stage of an oil painting where I am freer to edit, rework and critique my own work.

Here are three small paintings that I have developed as studies for paintings. Next time, I'll tell you more about the development of each of them. Leave me questions or comments about them--I'd love to discuss!

--Patricia

For more painting instruction from Patricia, check out her latest DVD, Figure Painting: Realistic Skin Tone.

Study for Leaves of Grass, oil on canvas, 2010.
Study for Leaves of Grass, oil on canvas, 2010.


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Comments

kylevthomas wrote
on 10 Mar 2011 10:24 AM

Patricia,

I know that your work tends to be allegorical, or at least utilizing metaphors. I'd be very interested to read about that aspect of your paintings. What are you "voicing" in your work?

on 21 Mar 2011 8:50 AM

I love this question:  "What are you 'voicing' in your work?"  Thanks, Kyle for the inquiry.  It's rather a big question.  The short answer is that I'm voicing that figurative painting that encorporates narrative meaning and poetic metaphor is as important to us and to our culture now as it was 200 years ago.  I want to use metaphor and allegory to create layers of meaning in my painting, to make an image that is both visually beautiful, but also makes a statement of philosophy.

I will write more on this in an upcoming post-- It is very important to me, and I'd love to dialogue about it with other readers here who are interested.  Thanks!

Gary Mason wrote
on 15 May 2011 5:05 PM

Absolutely breathtaking! Thanks for sharing such beautiful work!