Variation and Energy - Creating Art with Life

Lately, I've been enjoying experimenting with my painting but at the same time honing in on a style or something close to it - some consistency at least. I wanted to take a few minutes and demonstrate some points with my recent works.

Comparisons The image below shows 2 paintings - to the left is a white mug still life [6"x 8"] and on the right is a fruit bowl still life [8"x 10"]. The mug was painted a few weeks ago when I first started painting still lifes and I don't believe that this painting is bad necessarily but at the same time, it seems bland & boring. Not much of the brushwork is visible which isn't a bad thing either; it just depends on your intention and what you wish to achieve or show within your work. Also, most of the color is flat and not varied; there's not much texture or temperature. A lot of this I believe deals with the lighting situation of the still life, at least some of the color choices and such. Although the painting may be an accurate representation or portrayal of the cup, it doesn't mean that I like it or that it is a work of art. To me, it lacks emotion and feeling - energy.

But the painting on the right, more recent, doesn't lack varied colors or lively brushwork. This painting also had a different lighting scenario than the previous one; one warm light rather than 3 daylight, cool lights. Makes a big difference in temperature, shadows and overall color. The warm light also forces me to use more color to show temperature rather than cooling it down and changing its value by adding & mixing in a bunch of white. still-life-comparisons-brandon-schaefer-acrylic-paintings

Here's another example of one from a few weeks ago, quite flat colors, very little variation. Lacks energy and life, in my opinion. Not a bad effort though, of course; it's just missing that painterly appeal. orange juice and ginger still life

Set Your Intention This one was my first taste of experimenting with loose brush strokes and I feel it has much more life than the others. I was still using the cooler lights and regular old acrylics with this one. I think since it is a 9"x 12", a little larger than what I have been doing recently, it gave me the space to paint bigger strokes and have some fun. The main thing is to keep your intention in mind as you are painting; be aware of everything you are doing. It is tough, and I find myself spacing out and getting lost in details sometimes but when I recognize that, I jump back on track. still life medicine dropper brandon schaefer acrylic paintings

Awareness The thing is, I took a look at those earlier paintings and asked myself "What are these paintings in need of?" At the time it was obvious but that's not always the case. I decided to take a look through my folders of inspiration and the answer was there. They were missing life & energy - a painterly feel - color variations.

I've learned that when painting I have to be mentally aware of every stroke of color that I mix and put down. Almost the entire time that I'm painting I try to focus on all of the points necessary to create interesting artwork - value structure, composition, colors, etc. Always judging - Is that stroke too dark? Too saturated? Am I fooling around with the paint too much? Over mixing colors? Worrying about worthless details? All these questions run through my mind and I do my best to make sure to stay focused on the overall outcome that I envisioned instead of getting lost in painting part of an object. I'm definitely nothing close to a master but I'm having tons of fun growing and learning on this painting journey. Looking forward to sharing more as always. Time to get to painting.

Other Updates Just last week I sent out a Newsletter which I haven't done in almost a year now but I plan to send one out every few months or so. For anyone who missed it, you can check it out here: SchaeferArt - 5 Tips For Creating Quality Artwork.