One of my painting goals for a few years has been to loosen things up and be more expressive. I want people to understand what they’re looking at, but I don’t want a photo-realistic style. For me, it’s about painting from the heart. Regardless, I do tend to get caught up in the details and render my subjects too tightly. When finished, I am highly critical of how accurate my painting is! I think I’m finally beginning to break this crazy cycle.
A friend once told me a way to reduce the likelihood of wanting each artwork to be a masterpiece: paint as much as you can! The more you paint, the less importance you assign to each piece. Increased frequency invites exploration and experimentation. All of this makes perfect sense to me.
Loose Painting Techniques
Techniques That Work for Me
- Sketching and journaling. This usually means creating smaller pieces quickly. I can easily carry a sketchbook with me when hiking, walking, or bicycling. I spend a short time drawing, then I’m back on the trail or bike.
- Using different mediums. I love my pastels, and I also enjoy acrylics, watercolors, colored pencils, pen and ink, and collage. Mixing it up keeps me engaged and excited.
- Approaching my painting sessions with less attachment to the outcome. Easier said than done, I continue to practice this!
- Painting larger pieces. This encourages me to use larger brushes and create larger shapes, deterring the tendency toward details.
- Standing. Generally, I use an easel when standing. Sometimes, I just lean on the flat part of a wall or hold the tools in my arms.
- Holding tools (brushes, pastels, pens, etc.) loosely. Less control is the goal.
- Painting with friends. In the past, I struggled when painting with friends because the chatter distracted me from my art. Now I’m thinking this could be a good thing for loosening me up, so I’ve been trying it again.
- Explore new subjects. Trying new subjects is always fun.
Recent Attempts to Stay Loose
Loose Painting: Recent Work That Shows Improvement
NOTE: Click on a painting to see an enlarged view of it.
Watercolor is, naturally, a very loose medium. My usual method is to first draw contours, then enhance with the paint. I had to muster up some courage to exclude all “boundaries” in these two paintings.
It can be overwhelming to paint an entire rose bush. So, I hyper-focused on individual buds and rendered the shapes quickly. I added darks and lights to achieve depth.
The white azalea bush has lots of tiny petals! My composition included a small cluster of petals. The background is a semblance of leafy colors.
The flowers in Magnetic Reds (left) live in bright sunlight. The sedum of Autumn Joy (right) live in a shady path. I’m learning more and more about the quality of light and how it affects our perceptions.
What Do You Do?
Do you have techniques that help keep your artwork loose? I’d love to hear what they are! Please share in the comments section.