Okay, to clarify - these pieces and times are not here to brag. I want to introduce all of you to the wonderfulWHYof speedpainting and why I will advocate it strongly for anyone who doesn’t really do it.
Do you obsess over detail? Lose interest in the middle? Finish pieces of the work but not the whole? Get stuck on backgrounds? Get messed up with composition?
There are a lot more questions I could really ask, and if the answer is yes to any of them, speed paints will help you out if you approach it the right way.
Speed paints are a great way to fail a bunch of times quickly. You can examine your work afterward to understand why, but it really sucks to fail catastrophically on a single piece you spent 30 hours on instead of in 5 successive 1 hour pieces that try to practice the same thing before attempting to put the whole to the test. (Failing isn’t bad by any means though! You will do it. No piece is ever going to be entirely successful on its first try. Just give up that fantasy fairy tale right now.)
Basically, speed paints are a fantastic way to learn what works and what doesn’t and QUICKLY. You time yourself. Sometimes 2-3 hour “speed” paints are okay too, and I’ve posted a few that took longer than an hour in my examples.
Basically, speed works make you home in on the most important parts of your piece.
Doing anything quickly, where you’re trying to capture the “essentials,” is going to help you focus on those when you do a big piece, too. It’s really okay if you’re terrible with colors or composition right now- I was at one point (and I won’t profess to be a master by any means: I just know more than I once did about what works for me and what doesn’t), and I will still always have more to learn and experiment with.
You will have to make quick choices about what colors are important, how to set up and frame a piece (the composition aspect), what interesting poses to give, what lighting to set up, what type of marks to quickly add to give the desired texture, and most importantly, you will not be zooming in and focusing on details in any one spot.
Any ideal speed work is worked on uniformly at once. You block out the general thing and then slowly bring the picture to focus (sound familiar? that’s because it’s utterly sound advice)
If you’re working on tiny details in a section of the drawing before moving on to even putting color down for the rest, you’re going to end up with a drawing/painting that is not uniform at all. Those pieces are usually extremely obvious to any trained eye. It’s really really important to put down the base for the whole piece, the base colors, and then shade the whole thing at once, highlight the whole thing at once… This will help you keep the WHOLE piece, the WHOLE composition as the focus. You will not lose the forest for the tree, so to speak!
Working quickly forces you to make tough choices about how to best represent details as creative decisions with brush strokes or quick mark making take over. This knowledge carries over into your big pieces, reducing the time spent on those and improving the overall quality of your work.
Speed painting or drawing basically helps you get a lot more mistakes/knowledge under your belt so that when you get to these big pieces or projects you want to do, you’ve already messed up a lot and therefore will have a better chance at making successful work.
Absolutely do not be afraid to take chances, to fail, to make unsuccessful work. That’s part of the process, and it kind of sucks unless you learn to embrace where you are in art and move forward with the best you got, knowing that if you’re critically analyzing your entire body of work, you will, you WILL improve.
It just takes time. A lot of it. You will not become an expert in a day, a month, a year, three years… it takes a lot of time! (see previous post)
And most of all, don’t get discouraged. I know it is easy to, but if you experiment and don’t forget to have fun on top of everything else, you will get to higher places. Please trust me on this. I know it’s hard to. If you can’t and don’t believe me, then… work hard! See for yourself! There’s no shortcut. There’s only labor behind it. (And don’t forget to supplement paintings with tons and tons of drawing and being observant!)
Eventually I will make an updated tutorial on speed painting, and I will make an updated color guide/book thing. For now, I hope these words encourage those of you who needed a pick me up, and inspire those of you who didn’t think you could do it. You can, if you work hard.
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