Working Out a Painting: Birch Trees


This summer I took advantage of the empty space above the garage and moved my painting stuff in. How peaceful it is up there! I've been working on skies and trees - there's a landscape show coming up in the fall and I'd love to have something new ready for it. I did a birch tree study:

stand of birches study small | Angela Fehr watercolours

And then I did another one: birches study | Angela Fehr watercolours

And then I started another:

birch study 2 | Angela Fehr watercolours

For years I struggled with the idea that "artists should do thumbnails" - that my paintings would be better if I started by drawing out composition and value sketches. It never came easily to me, and I never felt like my sketches taught me anything that improved the finished painting.

What I have realized this year is that I work out a painting by painting. Multiple studies of the same subject help me to get to know it even better than I would were I to sketch it in pencil. I can be experimental with colours, lines and shapes before I ever commit to a "serious" painting. And the bonus is that sometimes that studies turn out so beautifully that I end up with another painting to share and sell.