Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Planner or Pantser? And more work on the WIP

more work on the WIP (still untitled)
15" x 20" watercolor

Things are coming along on this painting, even if it is a little slower than I'd like.

It's funny, when I mess up on a painting I usually approach my next one with a little more. . . caution? I guess you could say. Not timidity, just approaching the painting with more of a plan in my head of what colors to use and in what order, more careful looking at shapes and placement.

Which really is a pretty good thing, because I've realized (and I seem to be forced to make this realization every couple of months) that when I think I've nailed my process and I know exactly what to do and I'm basking in my own awesomeness of painting skills (totally kidding, I never bask, sheesh how prideful would that be? ;), that's when I mess up.

I think I have it all figured out, and I'm rushing to get it finished, and then I make that fateful error that I cannot fix and the painting's ruined.

Sometimes that really sucks. I hate having to learn things the hard way, but it seems like I always get to anyways. :)

So, at this point in the painting I'm laying down the skeleton, making sure that my framework is accurate and all set for the big splashy finish. I once heard an artist say, "first make it strong, then make it pretty." I've always remembered that. Sometimes I think I'm a little too anxious to get to the pretty making part.

So far I'm using light value colors so I can still make slight adjustments to his face and proportions that are so dang important with portraits. I'm making it strong right now so that at the end I can come back and make it vivid and beautiful (hopefully, that's the goal anyway).

In other words, I've been planning. No winging it this time around.

So, fellow artists and creative types, here's my question for you: Are you a planner or a pantser (pantser= fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser)?

As much as I'd like to be a pantser, I'm pretty sure that I'm a planner.  


  1. Another wonderful painting.

    As for me, I am totally a panster. The only thing that I plan are my vacations. Even then After I book the hotels and travel, I am horrible about making dinner reservations.


  2. I am a panster, but I'm learning to slow it down and make plans.

  3. Hi Crystal. I am now mostly a planner. Your young archer is looking VERY good! Take your time!

  4. I am 100% a planner. Down to finding out who the judge of a competition is and looking at all of their work before I start a painting of my own. I think that actually might mess me up because I'm so in my head, but I am a researcher to the end. Just last night I was researching the judge for the next show I'm entering. I saw on-line that he had an article in an Artist's magazine, so at midnight I was digging, crazily, through my stacks of art magazines looking for that article. I found it!!! I plan my own paintings out also. I'm the kind of person that has to mull over them for a while. I generally am planning 2 or 3 paintings in my head. So I always have a to-do list in my head. When I actually sit down to paint, it is funny because I get lost in the painting. Paint for hours and don't even realize the time has passed. I think by the time I sit down I've painted the picture a few times in my head. You're new wip is looking fabulous. Can't wait to see the final product. Oh--and your comment about getting the plan down and then making it pretty, I am way to impatient for that. I have to finish a section before I can move on the the next section of my painting. I thought I was nuts, but I actually read an article (there is that research again) where an artist calls that cellular painting--from what I can tell that's his term). So anyway there you have it the good, bad, and ugly of a planner:)

  5. Crystal-
    This archer is going to be so beautiful! I am kind of both- planner and pantser. I always over-think everything, BUT once I start painting there is no patience. I can't wait to finish!
    Loved your post!

  6. First of all...you have a wonderful friend in carrie...i would have never found you if she had not featured you on her blog!!! Thank you carrie! Second....Wow!!!! you are a wonderful artist! Ok..the question...can i be both!!!! There are times when im a panster....i just jump into a painting without planning and for the most part the outcome is...ok. And then there are times when im a planner! Here lately i am a planner most of the time though...im like you...i like making the pretty show up in a hurry...but know i cant get there without that boring foundation first!!!!!!
    love love love the horse paintings!

  7. I popped over from Carrie's blog. Your portraits are gorgeous!!! Awesome work!

  8. This is looking brilliant.

    I'm a panster, I just get on with it and hope for the best, some times it works sometimes it doesn't but at least I enjoy it. I wish I could be more of a planner though.

  9. I am definitely a planner. Everything needs to be perfect before I start something. Like, for example, I'll put off going running until I buy a new water bottle...although filling up this old mason jar would totally have worked. Or, I can't clean out the van until I have the new air freshener to hang in it when it's clean. It's a HORRIBLE habit I've had all my life.
    Now all four of our kids were fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantsers (Insert naughty joke here) otherwise they'd never had been born.
    My point is planning isn't always a desirable trait. Sometimes it's a good thing to just pantser through life, ya know?

  10. Sometimes I'm a pantser and I go all out on a painting like a painting master. Then, usually halfway through that piece I stop and think "What in the heck am I doing? This is terrible!!". After a trip to the garbage can to dispose of that fated piece, I gather my thoughts and gear back down to reality (where I belong) and become a planner again. Normally that's where I am....I've learned how important it is to really think things through before touching brush to paper. It does make a difference. Although I also believe you do need a little of the "pantser" inside to take risks when need be. So there you go!

  11. I guess I haven't figured out if I'm a planner or pantser yet but I guess I'm leaning toward planner. I also want to share with you that I recently learned about something called Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground. It's a base you can put on anything to turn it into a surface that accepts watercolor and, ta da, you can use it to erase mistakes in a watercolor painting and try again. I'm chomping at the bit to get some of this myself. As we all know......I have messed up quite a few paintings. Fortunately I did not toss them out. I love how you are progressing with this one. :)

  12. That red cap looks really cool already.. Crystal, you are gifted.

  13. I'm a panster - and I pay for my impatience! I need to change in to a planner and that's what I am trying to do as I go on.
    I would love to see one of the paintings that you consider has a 'fatal error' and for you to say what that error was - I think it would be interesting to see and great to learn from too :0)

  14. I love to visit your blog and your beautiful portraits, it always brightens my day. You are truly gifted! :-)

  15. I tend to plan a lot more in my paintings, in particular about technique and what needs to go down first as far as paint goes. Usually I loosen up as I progress through a paintings.

    Much of my process is trying to decide what to paint an how to find value in the subject matter I have chosen. Sketches are especially helpful when I don't have much photo reference, and I often toy with composition and placement on the page.

  16. Unfortunately, I am more of a pantser than a planner. My paintings would look much better with a little bit more planning. Your archer looks amazing so far!!

  17. This is coming along very nicely! :)

    I'm a bit of both. I look at what I want to do,try to notice where all the highlights and interesting parts are - and then I start - and paint til its done - and there I sometimes wing it :)

  18. w i p is looking great!

    I start out a planner but there seems to be always a great big leak in my elbow and I end up with 'fly by the seat of my pants' methodology. Also with my plans I manage to overlook some important aspect and I have to abandon the glorious ideas i had and work instinctively to scramble to complete the painting :)


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment they really do mean so much to me! Because not all bloggers have their email enabled so I can reply directly through email I will try to reply here in the comments. If I don't please forgive me, life must have been hectic that day! :)) Huzzah!!

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