A certain line, an uncertain brush

Pears blog

Pears (A4 ink and acrylics 2016)

This didn’t turn out as intended.

I bought some wonderful red and yellow pears from the supermarket and began what I thought would be a loose, somewhat abstract acrylic painting. I began with the pen and ink drawing below, which would be a framework over which the colour would wander freely.

Pears drawing blog


As soon as I started painting I began to feel inhibited: I was keeping the colour within the lines, there was no abandoned application of colour – it became a rather tame, if stylised, painting of some pears.

It’s a long journey from the mind to the hand. It takes a left at confidence, slows to a crawl around daring, reverses awkwardly into imagination and finally ends up parking badly at judgement.

Better luck next time.

45 thoughts on “A certain line, an uncertain brush

  1. Although I agree completely with your well-put thoughts about the sometimes unpredictable journey from mind to hand, I still like this picture, especially the composition and colours. But I do understand your frustrations – been there plenty of times! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I like the ink lines that extend into adjacent pears. Perhaps the freedom you sought “outside the lines” in painting came earlier in the process when you intersected solid objects’ forms.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Charlie and Kirk about the last paragraph. That is some great wordsmithing! I enjoy the painting as is but I understand your frustration. When I have a painting that does not turn out as I want it (and that is ALL the time since I am not a painter) I take a small piece of it that I do like and start from there. I do this with my writing, too. “Whatever it was that I felt was the weak link in my previous project gave me inspiration for the next one.” ― Joni Mitchell

    I look forward to seeing what comes of this. And I hope the pears were sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They still look good though! Someone told me it’s a good idea to put the paint on first in approximately the right place, loosely, wet in wet maybe, and then add just sufficient line afterwards when it’s dry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael, before reading your description of your process, my first thought was ” wow, the color, it really pops off the page. I’m very attracted to your painting. But, I understand exactly what you described. I walk that path, too, many times.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing Michael, it’s heartening when I read about other artists’ struggles as well as their successes, but I have to say that colour is absolutely mouthwatering, even if it’s not as loose as you set out to do 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That last paragraph is going in my Book Of Great Quotations (aka my sketchbook). Oh how true and how wonderfully well put! Do you ever read Liz Steel’s blog? I follow it – and she’s always going on about line versus shape and colour – and when why and how. Whether to be looking at shapes and volumes or edges. It’s a very interesting area, particularly for those of us who love using ink lines and washes of colour. Thanks – oh how I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much – that means a lot to me. I’m so pleased you found something of interest in it. I didn’t know Liz Steel’s work but I’ll certainly sign up for updates – with Charlie O’Shields’ Watercolour Month coming up I’ll be hopefully doing a lot more line and watercolour so your recommendation comes at a good time! Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I see nothing wrong with this painting. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I visited an art museum recently and in the contemporary section, there were these massive paintings of what looked like someone simply took buckets of different color paints and sprayed the canvas as a child would. To me this is not art. To someone else it is art. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong, it just is what it is, and it is up to the viewer to decide the interpretation, not the artist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose it’s more the distance between intention and reality than the intrinsic merit of the picture itself: it didn’t turn out like the picture I had in my head. Contemporary art can be divisive, I know, but abstraction isn’t that easy I find. I’ve been lot lately about abstracting realistic subject matter, which I find a very stimulating idea
      Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comments – much appreciated.


  9. Pingback: Daily Drawings – Martha Lightfoot – Illustrator

  10. this really IS a very appealing artwork!
    here is a thought…. sometimes I consider paintings to be like ‘children’ I have my own hopes and aspirations for the direction and path I’d like them to go. and then they go their own way. and I love them in their own path just as much. I know, its a far stretch linking a painting, to a child – but it has worked for me on occasion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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