Question: I’ve never painted a themed series before and I’d like to try, what should I keep in mind before I begin?
My selection process for an image to paint generally is finding a photo that stirs something inside of me. I can pass by a photo for months or years and pay no attention, but one day it’ll speak to me. Sometimes I see another artist’s painting and see something I’ve never seen before in the style or subject and go back and find a photo that I can work with in a way I dismissed before. Photos don’t have to be great to achieve a good painting. I have to remember, I’m painting a painting, not a photo. The goal is to find the right composition, the part of the shot that interested me in the first place and embellish on that. I think it’s all about ‘seeing’ the world in a more colorful, rich way.
I try hard to balance freehand painting with no pre-sketching or measuring to keep loose and exercise that skill – versus being more precise with the composition and sketching the outline before I begin painting. Take for instance, the BUST-ED portraits – I never sketch before I paint, I just jump right in and let it happen. Landscapes or still life are usually done the same way. I love to paint that way.
Most paintings are done in a long day, some more complicated are done in several days. I like to start a painting and finish before I start another one. My span of attention is short, I need to keep working when I’m interested in that image or I’ll abandon it all together. I’ve done that maybe three times in ten years, but eventually I went back and finished those pieces. Whatever I’m avid about on any given day is what I paint.
In all the series I’ve done, with an exception of BUST-ED, I’ve mapped out the series from beginning to end with my photos. That gives me the direction I long for, with a goal in mind. Knowing when a painting is done is a whole other thing. I’ve finished many and wiped the whole panel clean because it wasn’t what I envisioned or it was just boring. Any painter knows the peril of over-working a painting, that’s the tough part. I try very hard to have a balance of loose and slightly tight if it lends itself to the subject. I do a good bit of pre-planning with my image, so there’s rarely reworking the composition or color choices, which makes it easier to know when it’s done.
To see more of Karin’s inspiring works, please visit her website.