Monday, August 1, 2011

What is "50 Starts"?

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Landscape painter Kevin MacPherson wrote that an artist should do "100 starts" — quick, not necessarily finished, paintings, to learn composition, value, and temperature. There's not much emphasis on detail or paint handling techniques, it's about getting a LOT of practice with the basics of painting.

I'm attempting "50 starts" because I'm lazy, and 100 paintings of any kind seems out of my reach.

He's right that it's one of the best things you can do to improve your painting skills immediately. Each one that I've done has been a direct path to better painting the next time I pick up a brush. 

4 comments:

  1. Great Idea. I have been going head on into the paintings first and then keep "correcting" as I go along and learn but that is a lot of time wasted and can be nerve racking at times. I just started practicing now doing the starts thing. I should have done that in the first place. I blamed my not having time to practicing when I was working but now that I'm disabled I have no excuse. I'm enjoying doing little pieces now. It is really helping me with some issues I have had in the past. Maybe now I can paint a painting full through without having to keep fixing mistakes so much.

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    1. Robin, that's EXACTLY what I do - and end up correcting my corrections. It's hard for me to be patient enough to do studies, I want to leap right in. I've found that when I have to keep tweaking and fixing, it's usually because of really basic flaw in the values, that could have been prevented by a small study. I'm sorry you found the time to paint through a disability! I think you'll make great progress with the small pieces.

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  2. Sometimes I do 4-6 of the 10 minute quick paintings I found on Carol Marines Daily Paintworks under the Challenge section. It really does help nail down the composition and all that good stuff!

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    Replies
    1. That's a good idea! I've seen other artists discussing timed paintings, and haven't tried it yet myself. When I was in school we did timed figure studies (with charcoal) and sometimes the best results were from one minute or less. Ten minutes sounds perfect for a small painting - you HAVE TO focus on the essentials. Thanks for the tip!

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