I have a folder on my computer called “To paint”, which contains all the photos I’ve taken that I might someday like to use as reference for a painting.
Maybe you have a similar system?
If you’re anything like me, there will be a handful of photos in that folder, which you’re saving, because you don’t feel like you’re ready to paint that particular subject just yet.
It’s such a great subject that when you paint it, you want it to be the best it can possibly be, so you think you’ll just wait a bit longer, until you have more experience and you are more likely to do it justice. When you feel ready, you’ll paint that masterpiece.
Well I have news for you…
You’re never going to feel ready!
The vision you have for a painting is always going to be out of reach of your actual ability. Sure, the longer you practice, the smaller that gap will get, and maybe one day you’ll feel comfortable to tackle any subject and be confident that you can do a pretty good job of it, but if you wait for that day to come, you could be waiting a long time.
So grab that photo you’ve been planning to paint for the last few years, and get painting!
You might surprise yourself, and come up with a painting you’re really proud of. If you don’t, no problem. Think about the challenges you faced, and how you can practice to overcome them, then file the photo away again, and try it again in a few weeks or months. It’s almost guaranteed that your second attempt will be an improvement on the first one.
Another option is to just choose part of the subject that you’re interested in, and paint a study of that area. That’s what I did today with this study of a Chinese water village, which is part of a larger subject I plan to paint at some point:
The great thing about painting studies like this, is that you’re not worrying about how the final painting will turn out, so it helps you stay loose and relaxed.
It’s also a great learning exercise, which you can put to use when you come to paint the full subject.
Are you hoarding any painting subjects, because you don’t think you’re ready to paint them yet? Why not give it a go? I’d love to see what you come up with.