My Current Easel Arrangement, and Painting from Memory
My Current Easel Arrangement
Up until about 6 months ago, most of my work incorporated photography as at least part of the reference material. The current setup of my easel reflects that practice. Immediately to the right of it, I have a computer monitor where I’d display photographs I was working from. To the right of that, and several feet back from where I stand to work, I have my large shadow box. This is where I arrange many of the compositions I work with. I would then take photos of those arrangements and display them on the monitor. The video above shows this arrangement, as does the image below.
There are advantages to working from photography, and there are disadvantages as well. Over time, the disadvantages came to outweigh the advantages for me, so I’ve been transitioning to working mostly from life. It’s been an exciting process, and it was the main reason to do my recent 90 day challenge.
But, it’s also meant that my studio arrangement no longer mirrors the way I work. I have plans to rearrange things. In particular I want to move my computer completely away from my easel. I don’t look at the monitor to paint anymore, and it’s a general distraction I don’t need. It’s probably a full day project, since a lot of other things will need to be rearranged too, so I haven’t made the time for it yet.
Painting from Memory
Meanwhile, I’m on a schedule to make one of these paintings every week, regardless of the state of my studio. In order to work on this piece, I needed to take several steps backward, turn 90 degrees, and look at the composition in my shadow box. I then concentrated on fixing what I saw in my mind’s eye, returned to the easel, and worked from that memory as much as I could. It was a lot of back and forth, and it was an energizing challenge for me.
I intuitively feel that it’s great exercise to sharpen my observation. I realized at first that I was looking at the model and planning out the color mixes and brushstrokes, and then executing that plan when I returned to the easel. That’s all well and good, but I then focused on just trying to clearly capture the image itself in my memory. That’s somewhat trickier, but I suspect that’s where the real value is. For the last few days, it’s forced me to LOOK, not THINK. Preconceived notions are often a hindrance, at best.
Like any skill, memory can be developed, and I want to work with developing this aspect of it a little more. I’ll do the next few paintings the same way before I rearrange my studio, and I’m looking forward to the process… one look at a time.