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Thinking Bigger

It is possible I think about painting more than I actually paint. Or to be more specific, I think about “the process” of painting more than I paint.   I don’t think this is a new habit, but one that I am becoming very aware of as I evolve my style into a looser, expressive genre. It seems to make sense that all my studio processes evolve too.

Commissioned Oil Study of Trapp

I’ve had a refined process for my oil commissions for years now.  Photo shoot, followed by small oil sketch studies, then after client review we move into the bigger detailed painting.  I’ve been very comfortable with this process.  I had a plan and my client knew my plan.  If I were to stay working in a realistic style of work where the end result is so predictable, this process could possibly remain lifelong.  But I’m moving forward with new freedom and expression as a painter…oh crap…does this process still work????

I’m also realizing that working bigger in a looser style requires changing some method habits I’ve developed over the years:

Habit #1, Brush Size:  Oh flat brush #2, I’ve developed a comfort level with you, but a bigger painting deserves a bigger brush so I can lay that colour down.  I want my brush strokes to be decisive and commanding.  It’s impossible to have this intent with a little brush in lots of itty-bitty brush strokes.

Habit #2, Amount of Paint to Mix:  Bigger brushes, bigger paintings, need more paint. I”m afraid this is a hard one to break begin the paint miser that I am, but I’m working on mixing larger piles. I’ve got my eye on a French Mistress (hey not that kind of Mistress!) A big glass palette box, that I can mix my large piles, rather than the 11×14 palette sheets I’m currently using and running out of room on.

Habit #3, Distance from the Canvas: ….”step away from the canvas…step further away from the canvas…”  This doesn’t require much explanation, but might require some studio re-organization so I can get farther away.

Lastly, I’ve decided to abandon the small sketch study process I’ve had for years. Bravely, I’m moving straight onto the bigger canvas. I hope some of those wonderful and spontaneous brushwork moments I experience in my small study work will begin to surface on the larger canvas as I adjust my other work habits.  I’ve realized trying to re-create a spontaneous moment in painting..is well, just not that spontanious..go figure!!

Capricho, 11×14 oil on canvas panel. This painting I abandoned all brushes and began as a finger painting. How’s that for saying bye to #2 flat? 😉


  1. Karen Baker Thumm
    July 5, 2012

    I understand the concept of spending more time thinking about painting than actually doing it, Jenn. My own style and working method is also in transition even though I haven’t painted much for quite a while.

    It’s good to evolve, try new techniques and grow as an artist. Stagnation is not good for us.

    • jpratthorseartist
      July 5, 2012

      certainly not good for me! I can’t imagine producing the same art for the rest of my career. I”m interested in seeing your transition too Karen 🙂


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