Saturday, April 18, 2009

3 Things I’ve Learned in the School of Group Challenges

WC pencil jar

graphite sketch of my pencil jar
4” x 8” in Moleskine sketchbook

The reference for the April Virtual Sketch Date was posted yesterday. This month’s reference is a lovely rhododendron bud supplied by Jeanette Jobson. All entries are due by Saturday April 24th.

I was thinking about group challenges the other day – like the Virtual Sketch Date and Karin Jurick’s Different Strokes From Different Folks - and what a great learning experience they are for me, in particular, reviewing all the entries.

When viewing the entries, I love seeing them all together on one page. I start out by scrolling through the entries or glancing at each one quickly. I know that the entries that catch my eye during a quick sweep deserve a longer look.

When I first started viewing these group challenges, I wondered why some entries caught my eye and others didn’t, especially because they are all of the same subject. What was it about some paintings that made me want to linger? For me it comes down to three things.

  • Composition – Many times what makes a painting stand out from the crowd is composition. Cropping can make all the difference in how a painting reads. Same is true for elements that are left in versus elements that are eliminated. Recently I saw two almost identical compositions and the main difference for the one I preferred  was the addition of something that didn’t appear in the original reference. My lesson…study composition until good compositions come easy.
  • Style – I am finding the more I do this exercise the more often paintings of a certain style catch my eye. The surprising thing about this is that the paintings I like are not painted in a style similar to my own. Having learned what style appeals to me, I’ve decided to try to work toward that style in my own paintings.
  • Technical Ability – My studies have revealed that technical ability is actually less important to me than I would have guessed, but there is some base line that needs to be met for me to enjoy a painting. The lesson for me here is to not sacrifice style and feeling in my own works in an effort to prove technical ability.

I love that I can learn from group challenges even when I don’t participate in them. I’m interested in hearing what lessons you have learned from the School of Group Challenges. Feel free to share them in the comments.


Jennifer Rose said...

the main things that I have learned when looking at any group project are how composition can make or break an image. Also that I'm attracted to colours. lots of colour, but of course not so much that the image turns to mud though.

There are so many group challenge that I would love to participate in but its finding the time :/

Stacy said...

Jennifer, I agree that composition can make or break an image. And sometimes the difference is from very small changes. I agree too that findng time to participate is the biggest challenge to challenges. :D

vivien said...

very good points and good analysis there :>)

Our group blog Watermarks has been very thought provoking, looking at things from different perspectives and triggering ideas :>)

Charlene Brown said...

The main factors that influences my first impression, and often my more considered opinion, are the choice of colours and balance of these colours in the composition. This can include odd colour highlights, which I find appealing. And I find the range of interpretations of the same subject fascinating!

Stacy said...

Thank you Vivien! I read your Watermarks blog and enjoy it very much. It is so interesting to see how you each approach the subject of water in your artwork.

Charlene, I'm with you in that I also find the range of interpretations fascinating. But I'm more often attracted to works based on good value contrasts than on colors. Which probably helps explain why I enjoy working in graphite and charcoal.