Thursday, July 9, 2015

The 5 W's of Painting


In the world of journalism, a reporter will often use "The 5 W's" in order to get his story straight.
Who, What, Where, When and Why.

I think they apply as well to painting, we are telling a story - after all - "A picture is worth a thousand words"...

The Five W's of Painting
by Karen Ilari

 WHO - is painting this?
Well, you of course! But by this I mean, when you step in front of that easel, who is showing up? Is it the you that is arguing with your kids or spouse? The you that got cut off on the freeway and is still steaming? The you that is guilty about the dusty house or dirty clothes? The you that doesn't believe in your ability to make this painting happen? The Critic? Well, you can paint, but none of those other you's can! So let them all take a nap and show up at the easel as the real you. Take a moment and put yourself back into the scene you are about to paint. Smells, sounds, sensations, feel them all. Now, this person can paint!

 WHAT - am I going to paint?
Make it personal. You want to enjoy this process, so choose a scene you LOVE! Something that moves you. You don't have to know why, it just needs to be something that makes you go Ahhhh, or ooooh, or hmmm, or... well you get the point! :) Carry a camera with you, take walks, take bike rides and car rides. Wherever you go and whatever you are doing, even to the grocery store, keep your artists eyes on. Be open to what is really going on in front of you. Open your eyes and see the world for the first time every day. Be aware. If something catches your eye, check it out. The groceries can wait 10 minutes, a beautiful painting may be just around that corner!
 WHERE - am I going to paint?
Painting on location is lovely. Back at home, in your painting place, make it your own. Even if it's a corner of the dining room. Claim some space where you can set up your easel and supplies and leave them there. Where you can pin up inspirational quotes and images.  As you walk by when you can't be painting you are reminded of your current project on the easel. It's amazing what you spot when you are just passing, or first thing on the way to the coffee pot. This is your creative space. When you are here, you paint.

 WHEN- am I going to paint?
As often as humanly possible. Your greatest teacher is the easel. There is no magic gift that you have or don't have. It's about showing up at the easel and painting. You will learn more by painting 30 paintings than you will reading 30 painting books or watching 30 videos - though they are great when you can't be painting! There is no substitute. If you want to be a painter, paint. The more you paint, the better the painter you become.
WHY - am I painting this?
Clarify to yourself right away what captured you about the scene you want to paint. It's not enough that it is pretty, or a landmark, or it looks like a painting. What does it mean to you? What caught your eye? The color of the light? The shapes of the trees, the shadow patterns, a feeling of solitude or joy or peace, the reflections in the water, the towering snowy mountains, the bright spring blossoms? Choose one! This is the hardest part. If there are 12 things you love about this scene, then paint 12 paintings!

What is sometimes added is the H. The how.That's what my videos, classes and teaching website are all about!

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  1. Thank you for making me a better artist.

  2. For some reason I can no longer access your painting website. Has anyone else told you that?