9 mini landscape paintings project featured collage

Wrap-up of the 9 mini landscape paintings project

9 mini landscape paintings project - compilation
Completed mini landscape paintings, each 3 x 4 on oil paper

My goal with this 9 mini landscape paintings project was to get over feeling rusty with painting and have fun getting back into landscape painting. To do this, I would go through my painting process from start to finish (except for varnishing) 9 times within 3 weeks. The deadline was simply so I didn’t let the project linger without making progress.

I’m very happy that I did reach my goal! Doing regular, small work and going through my painting process worksheet several times got me over the fear of starting and helped generate enthusiasm for exploring more ideas. More ideas than I can possibly get to, lol.

My worksheets came in very handy for helping my mind focus on making decisions rather than sitting there figuring out how to get started. This is huge for me — I overthink the beginning stage and am paralyzed by options. The worksheet methodically led me through the steps so my mind felt more free and less worried about missing pieces. One of the points I’d like to reach is for some of the painting process to feel routine, where things come easily and naturally so every little bit isn’t hard effort.

This project helped me reconnect with the joy I feel when painting. And even the enjoyment I get out of planning. I don’t enjoy my time at the easel when I jump in willy nilly.

I did a lot of color palette exploration, and to my surprise found that even though I was using different color strategies (tube colors, schemes, mixing approaches), they ended up looking remarkably similar. That was something I was not expecting!

Some things that came out of this project that I’d like to explore more:

  • using analogous color schemes (I liked this much more than I thought I would)
  • using my concept to push the colors beyond the reference
  • using a mother color to bathe the landscape in one harmonized color
  • comparing the experience of alla prima and indirect painting methods
  • painting on smooth oil-primed panels (as contrasted with linen and canvas)
  • adding more texture and layering

Other things to explore

Since I’ve been all excited about painting the last few weeks, I bought my first bottle of varnish (Gamvar gloss) and tested that out on a couple of old paintings. For the most part I love the look of it! A few spots didn’t turn out as nicely, and I think that’s because of differences in surface quality of the unvarnished pieces. So I also learned about how to oil out a painting to make the surface quality more consistent. I used straight linseed oil on a different painting (not a varnished one) that had a lot of dull spots, so once that’s had time to dry I can try varnishing it to see how it turns out.

I also did a tiny bit of experimenting with glazing over an old study and a toned panel. I only used linseed oil to thin the paint, not a glazing medium. The toned panel was a cheap, acrylic primed panel, and the thinned oil paint did not want to go on nicely — it beaded up because the surface was too smooth. But the little bit of experimenting I did was pretty cool because it helped me see the possibilities with shifting the temperature of a finished painting. I’m curious to see just how much can be done with the materials I have before purchasing glazing mediums… I also have a small tub of cold wax medium that I’ve never even tried so I’m looking forward to playing with that as well.

What’s next

I’m not quite sure what my next project will be. I have a huge list of things I want to try, and lately have been thinking about painting animals. This is something I haven’t done much of, mostly they’ve been mixed media illustrations. Creating some animal portraits in oil is on my short list, so maybe it will be that!

3-A-Week Challenge wrap-up

a selection of the paintings from my 3-A-Week challenge in October 2019

My primary art-making goal for October was to create three paintings a week as a way to put more of what I’m learning in Matt Smith’s online mentorship program into real-world experience. I started out strong! I met my weekly goal the first three weeks of the month, then fell off as I got focused on other things.

It was a super valuable project and even though I didn’t fully reach my goal in numbers, I’m very happy with completing nine studies for the month. I submitted several of them for Matt to consider during his bi-monthly critique sessions and he chose one to provide feedback on. That was really exciting because hearing his thoughts on where we can improve is one of the primary benefits of this program.

He selected my study of a valley in Zion to critique. The main takeaways from his comments:

  • go darker with the distant mountains to accommodate the value of the sky (this was my main trouble spot with this painting that I had asked for help with)
  • add more contrast by making the darks darker
  • use more paint

I agree with all of these suggestions, especially the one about using more paint, lol! That’s one I definitely want to be doing and am struggling with.

I’ve been on a digital decluttering mission the last several weeks and I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And one the things I’m most excited about that’s come out of this organizing project is a better way to structure my digital file storage using the P.A.R.A. method, developed by Tiago Forte. This framework helped me see connect the dots with my own preferences for creating: I do better with following through on my goals when I give myself projects that have clear starting and stopping points, with a plan for getting them done. As opposed to something like “paint every day.”

So I’m excited to see what my next creative projects become! And it feels good to have my various blogs wrangled together into one home base, which is something that I wasn’t exactly looking to do, but it just popped up one day as something that needed to happen.