Good painting is all about speed. This is something I realized back in the day when doing my apprenticeship at the classical arts academy. The first few minutes, even seconds of painting is what will make it or be the kiss of death. This notion is especially true when you look at the under paintings (washes) of representational art, immediately you can tell what was done with passion and energy and what looks like it’s been waffled. I think this is partially why I begun to do more abstract work. When you work fast you got no time to over analyze, doubt and create problems, and this is precisely when magic begins to happen. This does not mean that there is no thinking involved, it simply means that all the thinking and planning is done before and once you start to paint you know (intuitively) where you are headed.
How to paint ‘freely’ is something I understood only later on in life. I noticed that when I painted from observation, the best works were those which were done on a wimp, fast and almost by accident. As soon as I focused too much it never worked out. And this is how I realized that all the intense thinking happens when I need to draw or figure out the tonal pattern (black and white), but when I paint and use color I did not need it. In fact, the more loosen up I was the better it looked. How do you know it’s good? The simple answer is, when a piece turns out good everyone wants it. It speaks and resonates with the majority. This is how I understood that good painting should come easy, if you sweat it out something is wrong, either you have no idea what you want to say or you did not plan it well enough.
Another realization of mine was mistakes, if you realized what they are can be the best thing that ever happened to you. But to make mistakes one has to work a lot and work freely. Constrains will not lead you anywhere, and neither will theory. All the breakthroughs happen at the tip of the brush.
Another important realization for painting and drawing is using our eyes correctly. When drawing, we need to squint at the object and this helps eliminating the unnecessary details and leave the essentials which are the tonal contrast, main shapes and masses. When painting we should do the opposite, we should pick on the color we see with our peripheral vision and try to mix it up as base. That average color which seems too neutral is what will eventually help us figure out the entire canvas correctly.
Finally, painting is all about relationships. what I mean by relationships is how elements interact with each other, in short they need to work. If you managed to get one relationship right consider this a success, as you can capitalize on that. This could be two correct tonal relationships, masses, color combinations, proportions. The above applies not only to representational painting but also abstract. Proper abstract is a reaction to what is seen and felt minus the familiar shapes and tonal differences. Essentially the challenge is the same; the main idea is creating an illusion of depth and life on a two dimensional surface. The first emphasizes drawing while the second approach color and texture but the aim remains the same. Have fun creating :)!