I've spent the past week working on one single painting for the upcoming Buffalo Bill Museum Show in Cody, Wyoming. When I stop and reflect on the process I pursued in completing this painting, I realize that the single most important aspect to its success were my art book references. I know I've spoken of this before, but I can't stress enough how my library contributes to the success of ANY painting I present to the public.
For the most part, I use these valuable references for two different reasons: 1) Seeing how another artist handled a specific problem I am encountering, and 2) Seeing how to simplify an element in my painting that is difficult or over-detailed.
For early ateliers, copying Master works was part of the learning process. I think the strength in this method was they were able to follow in the footsteps of a Master and see exactly how he mapped out the complex steps and translated it into brush strokes.
I've found that things like foliage or repetitious patterns present chances to shine as competent painters. Riding the fine line between too detailed and too impressionistic are where I run into trouble. Once my point of interest is established, then the foreground and background must be appropriately incorporated into the painting, and compliment the subject.
Painting, according to Richard Schmid, is nothing more than solving a series of problems to completion. When there is nothing left to solve, you have neared the end of the painting process.
For me, and most professional artists, my book collection isn't just for looks. I would even venture to say that if you are a serious artist who refuses to purchase, study, and reference every art book you can find, then you may want to rethink your commitment to your craft. If you don't know where to start, then drop me a line and I will give you a good starting point. I'd love to share my inspiration with you!
P.S. I will reveal this painting in September, prior to the opening of the show. It will be worth waiting for, I promise!