Part two of Sallys comment was “Do you ever repeat the same composition over and over?” and I think I just made that doubly redundant but either way the answer is yes. Ya sure youbetcha! We all have our comfort zones, our go to themes, the easy solutions, for me, it’s horizon across the center, thing on the right or to mix it up some, thing on the left. My excuse is that we live in a very flat state so there’s always a horizon line somewhere and there’s nothing left but buildings or trees. But that’s really not a good excuse. I should explore more options and ideas. So now I do. When I go off to paint somewhere, I intentionally limit or force myself to try something I haven’t tried before. Exploring some facet of a place or a thing that I hadn’t considered before. Zoom in, squish, pull way back, put everything at the bottom, paint left handed, just paint the water, there are a million variants on any one theme.
The best way to move out of your easy chair is to do preliminary sketches. Thumbnails. The act of drawing on a small scale changes how you approach the problem and it makesit a lot easier to try something different. Didn’t like that last sketch? Let’s blow another 2 minutes on a new one. If you do 15 or 20 small sketches on a theme, I guarantee you that you will discover a deeper level of the idea that you had originally formed in your minds eye. Case in point is the sketch page here. There are some parameters to this particular problem. 1) The gallery sold the last 30×40 boats of italy painting I did and can I please send another. 2) I have a 30×40 frame that needs filling. C) The last painting was horizontal with boats and land on the left, so I can’t go there again. How many times have you said to yourself, man, I could paint this spot for a month or a year… really explore it. There are places that I could spend the rest of my life exploring where I could stand in one place and just move a little and there’s a whole new painting. This is the same thing only I have photos to work from. A fixed vantage point. So, there are a few limitations.But that doesn’t mean I can’t explore some options. Some of the movements in the variations are subtle, a change of measurements in where the island falls or the shore is, the size and position of the boats, vertical or horizontal. But after I sketched it about 10 times I started to look for other ways to solve it, most are on the right hand side. This is one sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. Just think if you filled one sketchbook like this what you would discover. No painting, just drawing.