Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Three Hour Time Limit

I have an imaginary time limit when I paint outside. If I have painted for three hours I generally have a problem or just finished fighting a problem. I tell myself that if I don't have it done at the end of three hours stop and re-group. Quit fighting it. Such was the case a few weeks ago on the painting above. The distant trees and hills went just fine. Like clockwork. But when I started laying in the foreground field my head just couldn't make it happen. I tried rows to the left, rows to the right, foreground textures, vegetation, rocks, posts, trees, etc., etc. Nothing made me happy and the three hours had expired so I scraped off the bottom half and when I got back to the truck I threw it in the tool box and there it stayed for about two and a half weeks.
Last week I revisited the same spot at the same time, fetched the half painting from the tool box and painted the foreground field in about 15 minutes. 15 minutes. That was all it took. I don't know if I was tired or frustrated on the first attempt but putting it away and recalibrating my head made a difference. I typically don't have the patience to go back a second time or try it later when I get it home. I am ready to move on to the next one. But I do believe in stepping away for awhile to let your head clear. I think it saved this one.

5 comments:

Bill Guffey said...

Hi Kevin. Time limits are good sometimes, but my goal is to make a good painting. Normally, my outdoor efforts take less than the 3 hours you mention, but sometimes they take much longer. Some require no extra work from the field, but most get touched up in the studio. Some get re-worked hard. The art world is full of sub-par works that make the excuse that they were done in one shot, en plein air.

Claire Beadon Carnell said...

It's more than just a save, it is spectacular!

kim1953 said...

I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes you just have to get away and come back with new eyes.

Gary Brookins said...

Kevin . . . It turned out great! . . . But you are such a fantastic painter, I'd be willing to be that any one of the earlier versions were better than most painters could ever dream of doing!

greggart said...

Nice post Kevin. It came out great....funny how seeing something fresh can make a world of difference. I think when you came back the second time you were in the artist version of "the zone". I love it when paintings melt off your hand....it's so rare but rewarding.