Sunday, June 12, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 163

I've decided to call it quits on this painting today. I've been working on it, off and on, for some six months. I just can't get it right. But you can't win them all and, after all, I am still learning to paint without any tuition.

The idea for this painting began as a short story I wrote all about a human marrying an alien and the difficulties encountered due to a clash of cultures (her family indulged in ritualised cannibalism). It led to this sketch:

And then this fecking awful pen and ink picture:

And then finally to the wedding photo-style multiple figure painting. My intention was to have a little story going on; the disapproval of Daddy Alien, the concern of the groom's parents, the fear in the eyes of the groom upon seeing new dad-in-law, the horror of the bride realising that Daddy is standing on her dress ... but, as I say, it hasn't worked. I thought it might be interesting and educational to ask why and point out what I got wrong.

(1) Originally I had an alien child here - maybe the bride's little brother? - but it didn't look right so I replaced him with the living handbag creatures. They ended up looking too flat and should have been hanging vertically. Mum of the bride is my favourite character and the only one that worked for me. I re-painted Dad's clothes so often that they got lumpy with thick paint. (2) I repainted the groom's head so many times that eventually it had grown too big for the body and his hat isn't sitting anything like how it should be. His feet should be lower too to bring him in front of the bride's dress. (3) Dad and Mum weren't too bad although one of Mum's legs is way too short and she seems to have half a satsuma on her head. Was quite pleased that the groom and dad looked related though - similar faces. (4) The groom's sister was the worst figure of all. Her head is too big, the eyes are wonky, her left arm is horribly deformed and her feet are enormous. Shamefully bad. (5) Her kids are petty dire too and were added as a deliberate attempt to get some balance back into the painting. I was very aware that the ground on which they're all standing slopes upwards from left to right. The boy is second only to his mum in awfulness. (6) Overall, there's far too much use of raw colour straight from the tube and nowhere near enough subtlety and mixing.

What have I learned from doing this painting? Do a better preliminary drawing. Normally I tend to do a few sketches of each character before assembling the composition. With this one, I got caught up in the idea and drew it directly onto the canvas in one hit. The lack of planning meant I was on the back foot from the outset. I won't do that again.

Am I being too harsh on myself? No, not really. It's healthy to dissect your mistakes. I learn something new from every painting I do, whether they work or not. So, never mind. There will be other paintings. And who knows? If I return to it in a few months time, and after I've done a lot more paintings, maybe I'll be able to rescue it?

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