Friday, February 22, 2013

The Difficulties of Painting on Wood: A Look at the 2nd WIP

The title of this blog post should actually say "The Difficulties of Being Self Taught".  This is my second large acrylic painting on a 24x48 inch piece of wood.  I am not sure what type of wood it is, but it is definitely not that wonderful birch I painting on in the last post.  Live and learn.  This wood is so much more porous and getting coverage is really really really taking a lot of paint.  I put gesso down prior, but it probably would have taken a gallon of it to cover this wood properly.

I like the overall composition and the colors, but there are so many things I don't like and I am not really sure how to fix them without just painting certain parts over.

 I am okay with the way her face turned out...the shading is difficult, but this is nothing new for me.  What is annoying is that line you see by her left eye which I believe is from the wood grain.  I didn't even notice it until I took the photo.  The only way to change this is more coverage and I think it would take a lot of paint and then I would lose what I have.  Also, I can't figure out why there is so much glare?  Is it the acrylic paints?

 This is the floor...TOO RAW...but I have no clue how to make it better or to finish it.  I thought about painting borders around the squares in kind of a Klimt-ish style...but then it would tighten the work and I am trying to loosen up.

And her hands are too small.  If I paint larger hands I think I would have to entirely change the mattress and you would not believe the amount of time it took to get it to the point it's at.  It was a white blob for a long time and now at least it sort of looks like a mattress.

I am seeing now that this is why they say an artist should draw, draw, draw.  If you do this you have a much better chance at having proportionally correct hands and mattress edges.  :)

In a nutshell I need to decide if it's finished. Should I leave it raw looking and accept that it is likely the wood that is my problem (if it is a problem) ...or does it really NEED more and I will just have to risk losing the things I DO like about it and keep on painting it.   It may be a while before I decide either way.

♥ Lisa

PS:  Look what we got here in Wichita, Kansas!  We set some records...second largest snowfall from a single storm in recorded history...over 14 inches!  I leave you with a few images of our winter wonderland.  Even though most of us are feeling ready for Spring, it is hard to deny the beauty of snow and the fun it brings, especially to an area of the world that sees so little of it.
Our cat Bean leading the way for Hurley through tire tracks. Bean is the more seasoned pet of the two.

View from my studio window

Female Cardinal

Male and female Cardinals

Hurley our Golden Retriever... and his nose

After shoveling, shoveling, shoveling...I tried my hand at sculpting. Not bad, eh?  


  1. Lisa, this painting is WONDERFUL! I love her expression, her gown with it's small separations and especially the floor! The whole piece has tremendous character and unique charm. Also: I enjoyed the snow scene pics. So beautiful and serene. Have a good weekend!

  2. Lisa - first of all -- you are looking too closely! The painting is wonderful - just as it is.
    But some things I have discovered the hard way -

    luan or birch panels are really great to paint on - sometimes I don't even gesso first.

    I lightly sand my board/painting - in between layers - even the birch and luan. But I also like the texture the wood offers to the painting.

    I have not tried it, but I read if you add a tiny bit of gesso to your acrylic paint before using, the glare/gloss is toned down - gives a more matte finish.

    I have begun - just recently - drawing everyday. I consider it my way of playing scales. It loosens me up and will hopefully help me 'render' accurately when I need to.

    But I am self taught as well - so try these things carefully - lol

  3. Lisa, I actually love this painting! you caught something here more important then the small details - the story your figure is telling is wonderful, and personally I love the smaller hands, but that's just me :))

  4. dont you touch that painting as its fabulous and has lots of meaning..I suppose you have to "go with the wood" and how it reacts with the painting. I am going to be painting/woodburning next week so will probably have the same thing..but hey its only by experimentation that we learn..again fab painting

  5. Lisa your work is turning a corner, let it flow and don't look for flaws that niggle you, you are actually adding the quirk to the piece by leaving them the way they are.

  6. when i first saw this painting - the first thing i thought was - ahhhhhh! beautiful! it tells a wonderful story! when it comes to looking at the painting 'nobody knows the trouble you've seen'. but just looking at it with the little beautiful hands et al - it's a distinctive and beautiful lisa graham painting - embrace your lisa graham-ish-ness! it's wonderful! now I'm going to go and steal - i mean borrow - some of your ideas!

  7. Hi Lisa,
    Wow! That was SOME snow storm! Those are the best kind, in my humble opinion. Meager amounts of soon-melted snow bring no excitement whatsoever, whereas mega-storms bring heightened heart rates, the thrill of being isolated for a few days, the opportunity to construct snowmen, forts, have world-class snowball fights and perhaps best of all, a truly peaceful silence as cars and most forms of commerce are stopped, or slowed for a few glorious days.
    But I digress. Your painting looks great and I urge you to sign it and sell it. Your lament about the struggles with certain types of wood are just part of the learning process and as I'm sure you know from your other career, we learn best from our mistakes.
    Over the nearly twenty years I've been at it, one--perhaps the most important lesson--is how to solve problems. I used to send an image of my problem(s) to the Maestro and he'd use Photoshop to give me ideas for possible solutions. His fixes were so elegant and just plain good, I was usually unable to duplicate them. Over the years, I learned to just grit my teeth and keep working until a resolution was found. Today, when a problem crops up, I have the confidence and experience to solve it, sometimes quickly and sometimes not, but I will get it done. Your continuing efforts, including the mistakes, will do the same thing for you.
    One thing especially wonderful about visiting your blog is the joy you express in the work--problems and all. Nothing gets you down for more than a microsecond and I never get a sense that you're really down. Happiness in one's work is a fantastically great thing and you triumphantly carry the banner for us all.
    Have a great (snow) day, Lisa!

  8. everyone's already said everything... : )

    paint on my fine friend...


  9. I totally agree, there have been many an artist become very successful by letting their own style you are doing. Some of my favorite things about this piece are the very things you didn't like! One of my favorite artists: Graciela Rodo Boulanger. Your style reminds me a bit of her.

    Love this piece and your work.

  10. I like the painting...just walk away from it and look at it in a couple of days. You'll gain perspective with some time away from it. My favorite of your photos is your cat "leading the way".....that is so neat!!

  11. Is there any way you can slap your mind and tell it to shut up? Little hands are perfect. Line by the eye is interesting
    The whole thing is great. The main thing is to enjoy this and be glad you are not a super realist. Now THAT, my dear, would be a problem!

  12. Hi Lisa! I love this painting! I really like what she is wearing and the color of the dress. Sorry you are going through some frustrations with your art. It all just looks beautiful to me. I wonder if "black gesso" would make a difference on the wood...just a thought. Oo...stay warm in all that snow! Burr!

  13. Wunderschöne Details in deinem selbst gemalten Bild. Ich liebe die Idee und Ausführung;-)

  14. I love this painting, Lisa...and I wouldn't touch it. Every one of us have our own style and this is yours...yes, the hands are small but it looks wonderful and very artsy...I love this piece...walk away!! Love your photos..especially Hurley.."priceless"...

  15. Hi Lisa~First of all, the snow you received is awesome! It's so gorgeous. I'll be glad to take some of it off your hands if you want to drop it off in my front yard here in Texas! Tee-hee!

    As for your painting, I want to echo what hmuxo just said above~I completely understand if you're not happy with the hands if your desire is to have everything in proportion, but if that's not the case, then this is just your style. And it's a very distinct, lovely style too!

    Somewhere along the path of making art quilts, I heard someone say:

    "There are no mistakes, just design opportunities!"

    I think that can apply to painting and lots of other art. I personally love the painting! The contrast between the beautiful color of the dress and the background is absolutely wonderful!

    I have come to understand why drawing is helpful too. I tried taking drawing classes twice but they bored me to death because I don't want to draw what they want me to draw so I dropped out. I have come to love art journaling, and that's where I get drawing practice now.

    Take care my friend and have a great weekend,

  16. A lot of great comments up there Lisa.
    Do another. : )

  17. Your work is all the better for being self taught! I love it there is a beautiful light falling over the bed and I really like the way you have painted the floor and the looseness of the window frame with a sense of moonlight streaming through. Panels vary in quality as you now know, if you sketch out your planned painting and work out where detailed areas are going to fall such as the face you can always put more effort in making that area smooth with gesso and sanding if you don't want to prepare the whole surface.

    With photographing your work try not to use flash as it will bounce off in areas, I usually find taking photos in daylight works best as long as it is not harsh and directional, you can use a piece of white paper to bounce light.

  18. Let your gut tell you whether it's done. I think it's marvelous that you are experimenting and playing with new techniques and new mediums and substrates....the work will inform you what it needs, sleep on it. xox

  19. I adore your painting my friend just the way it is.. I wouldn't change a thing. And I am in LOVE with all your snow photos. They have me smiling. Especially the one of Hurley following Bean.. What a sweet photo.

    Enjoy that snow my friend.


  20. I think it adds to the charm of your paintings Lisa just leave it all as it is but I understand what you are saying. I feel the same, you are just doing fine and please keep it up like you are:) Thank you so much for your lovely reply from your last blogpost to me!
    Hugs ManonX

  21. I love the texture and I like the way the detail changes with the woodgrain. If you want a smoother surface, I've painted a face onto paper and collaged it onto the larger painting when I wanted more detail in the face. :) I like the way her hands are small, it works! This is a gorgeous painting Lisa!xx

  22. Lisa, I think this is beautiful, as is the first one. I love your imagination and how you pull things together. I don't know if it's the wood but the colors on both pieces are so rich and from what I can see of the texture/grain I really like it.
    Only you know whether it's done or not. Walk away from it for awhile or put it in a different place in the house that you might see it throughout the day.
    Patricia xo

  23. Hi Lisa ;o) I see you have a lot of great comments ;o) You know, I am not a professional artist. I have never been professionally taught. I just paint from my heart. To me, I think the painting is beautiful! But, it has to be you to decide! Don't be so hard on yourself ;o) Big Hugs ;o)

  24. I forgot to say, I love the picture of your kitty and your dog! I love all the pictures ;o)

  25. I really like the texture of the wood. I like the painting also and think like many of your others, there is a certain charm and rustic-ness to it (if that is a word). However, I am also of the "independent learning" school and sometimes because of that, things just don't work out the first. But, how often have you heard the professionally trained coomplain about things not working out. This does not make whatever annoys you less annoying. You must be happy with what you make. Either hide it away until you have a eureka moment, or, if it truely bothers you, be resolved to fix the hands if you're unable to look at it without wincing. I personally think it's charming. I believe this is where you can experiment and get a little rock n'roll. If you don't wish to repaint, try collage, try spraypaint, and create a mix media masterpeice. Go crazy. You may suprise yourself! Hope this helps.

  26. I wish I lived closer! I love this painting!!

  27. Hello Lisa.... Here I am to add my 2 cents worth. I too am not trained in painting, drawing or anything creative. All I can say is that I too think it is lovely just the way it is. I love her small hands...and her face and the floor... and it all. It contains your wonderful style so very perfectly. I do understand you have to like it though, so my thoughts are to let it sit for a while and see if you like it another day. Sometimes when I struggle with something for too long, I don't like it because of the struggle it caused me not necessarily because of how it looks.
    Personally I think every bit of it looks perfect! Another wonderful painting in your own amazing style.
    And .... how very brave of you to paint such big paintings. Perhaps one day I will create larger... we will see, as I am still enjoying small.

  28. Your painting is genius like it is...all the details look gorgeous and the absolutely eyecatch for me it the window with its magical color and the moon!!! I am in love with it!! Big hug Conny

  29. Hey Lisa, have just blog hopped form Julie Whitmore and have to say your painting is just wonderful.
    You have created a wonderful atmosphere and I love the colours......
    I'm not an artist and all the previous comments have given you great advice.
    Love the snow pics, can't imagine a Winter so cold........what a wonderful view from your studio.
    I would never get any work done if that was my vies......just gorgeous.

    Claire :}


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