Starting to paint a sketched out design is pretty nerve wracking. I mean you can sit for hours measuring, drawing and rubbing out a design to get it just right… and then you have to fill it in with some impossible-to-correct medium. And chances are when you start going over the design you think ‘Oh God this isn’t working… it looks really bad… what am I going to do?…Should I start again… should I just scrap it and give it up as a bad job?’ My message is no, PERSEVERE. It may look awful to start with but if you let the design and the medium have a little free will, you can often be surprised by the result.
When working on the Beerguide board for the Noels Arms Freehouse, I was working on a painted metal surface with ordinary wall emulsion paint. I had no idea if it would work or what the outcome would be. And at first it looked a disaster, the paint wasn’t covering well, the colours didn’t look right upon application and I wanted to give up almost as soon as I started. But I did persevere, adding a second coat of paint and suddenly it didn’t look so bad. It might just work.
The above image sequence shows the build up from line drawing to fully painted image, and here was my general thought process:
Line drawing: ‘That looks brilliant, if only it could stay a line drawing forever’
Brown shadow layer: ‘Argh, that looks terrible, the detail’s gone, what am I going to do?’
Orange layer: ‘That’s even worse! The orange wasn’t that bright on the paint can! This really isn’t going as expected.’
Yellow layer: ‘Wait, something’s happening, it’s starting to look like…something….’
Highlight layer: ‘Actually, that looks pretty damn decent’.
So the message really is PERSEVERE, it may not look great to start with but often artworks have a way of working out, or even looking miles better than you originally imagined.
And sometimes they don’t. But never mind, can’t win ’em all.