MAKE A PLAN by Mary K Donahoe : Paintbrush Alley


MAKE A PLAN by Mary K Donahoe

by Written by WAA Members on 04/22/16

What makes you get started on an artwork?

Often we hear, “I can’t decide what to paint.” When subject matter becomes a stumbling block to action, a plan to explore a certain concept may shake you loose.

It may be new tools that offer a plan for a piece. Who hasn’t fallen for one of those newfangled art tools then enjoyed the delicious anticipation of trying it out? For acrylic painters it might be texture gels, wire brushes, or glazes. For watercolorists, sponges or yapo paper. For oil painters, linseed stand oil or a palette knife.

 There are other ways to start with a plan in mind. I find it helpful to set some parameters for my painting. If I commit to a certain composition, I can free myself up to use a variety of color or brushstroke.

 Without a starting plan, it seems I end up with total chaos. I know some people who like to start painting and just see what happens. That doesn’t work for me. Of course, the painting I end up with may end up jettisoning the very idea that started it. At least I learn what problems that composition produces.

 I practice figure drawing once a week with a live model. Occasionally I’ll look at the paper in front of me and envision the finished piece before I start. Of course, it changes. But it’s thrilling to me to see how the mind works - seeing what I might draw before it is done.  The pressure of completing a drawing in a short time helps, too. You have no time to be critical of that flash of inspiration. Just go with it!

 Regardless of what method works for you, make a plan, then execute it. Life is short. Express yourself while you can. Your life will be richer for it.