I learned to paint loosely by dividing my approach into two football teams.
Sometimes things just fall into place. I’m always trying to find ways to explain how I developed painting approaches that gave me more freedom to painting loosely. The 1st step is “Lemons, Walnuts, Rice and Water” which is covered in another blog. This step is the foundation for painting loosely. Here I cover what I do after I get a thumbnail designed in 2 or 3 values.
After that I depend on an understanding of the difference between painting a drawing (often seen as doing realism) and creating a painterly piece of work (is more in line with Impressionism and/or the abstraction of elements). Realism describes objects as they are. Impressionism and abstraction has no loyalty to a recognizable image.
What works for me is to start with the football team of realism, placing a very loose drawing on my paper or canvas, using only as much detail as is needed to understand my subject. Then, with my thumbnail (small composition design) at hand, I throw the football over to the impressionist/abstract team and blow away as much of any recognizable areas as I can get away with. The best way to paint loosely is to have a PLAN!
This is accomplished through THUMBNAILS. What thumbnail planning does for you is give you the freedom to choose what you want to put into your design and what you want to eliminate without painting and repainting the actual work.
I rarely find a scene that is “picture perfect”. And since I have an adventurous nature, I like to be very creative with my work. This means I will take subject matter from different locations to include in the work. This is tricky. Whatever is inserted needs to look natural and of similar ilk and light source (if I’m working with a realistic approach*). Work on consolidating compositional design shapes into simple 3 value areas (crossing over subject matter and the tendency to focus on details rather than design).
Take the sketch and make a thumbnail in 2, then 3 values.
You will have a plan for your painting that tells you were all your value shapes are. You can blow away the color all you want, as long as you keep to the value design (and not the individual objects and/or details). And you can change items in the design to make new scenes.