I made a digital painting of a section of a real painting in order to practice modeling, shading, lighting, ellipses, shadows, highlights, and all that good stuff. Mine’s on the left.

Is an artists ever finished learning at which point he can just rest of his laurels? Another blogger wrote something about how Van Gogh was trying to get a hold of some plaster casts of people to practice drawing from shortly before he died, because he wanted to improve his rendering of anatomy, or form, or any of the associated skills. And I’ve thought and said many a time that I think Jackson Pollock, or abstract expressionist of your choice, would have been a better artist if he (secretly) did traditional landscape oil paintings on weekends.I think when you are a visual artist, it’s good to learn a lot of different skills, and styles. In today’s fine art education, such as I had, I had perhaps too much range of training, or more accurately too much of what I didn’t need and not nearly enough of what I really wanted. I had to take sculpture, photography, conceptual art, and performance art classes. This is good, if one wants to be a more conceptual sort of artist. But, if you are primarily interested in making imagery, I think it may be better to get the skills you need to make whatever you want. I believed this back when I was in college, and it was not a popular belief. Maybe I benefited from having to work in ways that were alien to me, because, at least I’m less likely to be locked into just one methodology and one vantage point.

But the thing I never really got is a real fundamental realistic painting course. I got it in drawing, and had too many life drawing classes (incidentally the attractive female model only shows up on the first day, and then it’s the middle-aged, pot-bellied flasher from then on). But even in drawing the focus tended to be on breaking out of the fundamentals, which most nobody had mastered in the least to begin with.

I wish I’d have one good fundamental oil painting course, instead of all contemporary art courses. I would still like to take one, and, y’know, get out in nature with the canvas on an easel and the palette with loaded colors. It could be a hobby, kinda of like I wanted Pollock to do it.

So, the reason I did this practice, and intend to do more, is I’m trying to get these particular essential skills down to accentuate my digital painting. I’m not going about it in the proper way, partly because I’m doing it digitally. I did a drawing first, which is fairly academic, but then I just lay down the color however I want. I’m also not working from a photo, but rather from a painting. I like the look of paintings, not photos (for what I’m doing now, that is). The painters have already accentuated the elements I want to master. Or, I should say it’s the painted look I’m after, not the look of the thing painted. But, as I said, I’m not doing this properly, and don’t intend to go about painting in that way.

Rather, I’m training my subconscious to see relations and make connections. For the work I’m doing now, I’m relying completely on my imagination, and not following any rules. I just want more of the power of fundamental painting behind my punch, so to speak.

I see other artists who aren’t as fond of continually learning as I am, at least not when it comes down to training in areas they haven’t already learned. Sometimes I want to tell them, “uuuuh, you might wanna’ work on your anatomy. Here are some great videos you can work with. But, they’d hate me for it, and, as my art tends to appeal to a minority of the more sophisticated connoisseurs of painting, I would be making recommendations to people who have a much bigger audience than I do, with ten times as many followers, and who sell their art. Point is though, they really could benefit from working on their weaknesses.

I am also planning on doing warm-up paintings after some famous paintings, including the likes of Picasso, or George Condo, because of their opposite approach, which is to abstract nature.

And there’s one side thing that I think is quite interesting. When I did this practice painting, which took the better part of an hour, I was thinking about getting the volumes and modeling and all that right. Oh, and the colors! What I wasn’t thinking about at all was making my version look like it was painted rather than done digitally. The result, however, is really close.

My plan (which I never stick to, but you never know) is to do a quick practice painting to warm up before continuing the series I just started (which I may or may not continue) in order to influence and help improve the result.

I’m about to get started on a new one-day image, though I won’t finish it today because It’s 3 to midnight. It’s basically about a 3 hour piece. You can call it a “speed painting”, though technically it’s a little long for one. I don’t know if the effect of practice paintings will be evident. but maybe after several.

If you haven’t seen them, here are the first two paintings in the new series. After 3 I’ll pick the best one and make a larger version. And then the cycle repeats. I think the first two are promising. I could probably just keep going resting on my laurels. But if I can get my warm-up practice to about a half hour, that might help take my images to the next level up.


Oh, one last thought about this new series. I notice I have more of an attachment to work I create using my imagination. I’m much more attached to these, for example, than to my recent photo-collage with Andy Warhol and Donal Trump in it, though that one took at least as long to complete (below)

“Andy Foresaw It All”, by me.

Maybe I’m just more into whatever I’m in the middle of.





4 replies on “Warm-up Practice Painting

  1. Eric,
    I love the one eyed monster painting. It really gives the sense of fear. I’ve noticed you use turquoise in a bunch of your paintings and it always works well.

    When you say other artists aren’t fond of continually learning, what you should say is other craftsmen aren’t fond of learning because artists are always learning. That’s the best part of being an artist in my opinion. Every day you never know what your going to learn or create.

    Are you familiar with the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck? Some of your figures have a feel like some of his sculptures.


    1. Hi Matt. I’m mostly glad you like that piece. Not everyone will get it, or it may just really not be their cup of tea at all.

      Do I use turquoise a lot? I must like it. I pretty much love color, which is no surprise for a visual artist.

      When I say some other artists don’t keep learning to improve their skills, I’m thinking of some promising amateurs I’ve seen online, who really, really could benefit from learning to draw the human form better, because it’s significant in their art. But they don’t bother because they already get attention and accolades, or for whatever reason they don’t bother.

      Often things like anatomy, lighting, shading, modeling, perspective and so on are irrelevant to the drawing or painting, but sometimes they are critical to it, in which case one doesn’t want to botch it. There are some good errors in some of my pieces that I just didn’t see when I was doing them, but are super obvious to me now. I could go back and fix them, but, it’s probably better to leave them as they are.

      Sometimes we don’t want to learn something because it’s boring, tedious, or we don’t know how to figure out how to do it. Artists can be lazy and short-circuited by barriers just like everyone else.

      I think you are saying we are learning all sorts of things continually, and that’s true. I’m just talking about specific skill sets that can be necessary for certain works. I think someone like Jackson Pollock was probably just spinning his wheels after a while. Francis Bacon as well, in the end, and he’s one of my very favorites.


  2. How did you find painting the coffee? Nice job. I rather miss the sensation of drawing still life. It’s absorbing stuff – (almost free) escapism.
    One art skill to practice, and ought to have a module for it, is Getting Ahead. This would mean role-play training in private views: working out the right people to speak with, wearing the right clothes, holding the right brand of beer. Not what you imagine when you enrol, but hey, it could be called a branch of realism!


    1. I always hated drawing still lifes, but painting them would have been instructive. There are a lot of people online who do this sort of thing spectacularly well, though, usually it’s about all they do. It was alright doing the practice. I think it actually helped me just doing one. But I have one planned for today as well.


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