Been At A Painting Too Long?

How do you know when it’s time to stop belaboring a painting?

Would this do it?

Photo taken at the National Zoo in Washington, courtesy of my good friend Judy Wolfe, artist and photographer and one who knows me well.

She laughed when she saw it, knew it would crack me up, which it did, and then what? Would the message have gotten through?

” Less is More “, ” When in Doubt, Leave it Out”, ” Brylcreem, a Little Dab’l Do Ya ” ( I think that last one would be more familiar to readers the same age as the skeleton ). You get the point. Yes, but did I ?

I ordered some Raymar panels in their sample pack to test the surface, having used stretched canvas mostly. They’re small, 6X8 and ideal for quick studies as well as plein air work.

This was a photo I took at our local farmers’ market last weekend and liked the image and the subject.

Thought I’d loosen up my hand and rather than draw first, just have at it with paint and brush and my new best friend ” SQUINT “.

One hour, not one week.

Think I want to do more of these. Just not today. It’s the day before election day and I can’t paint with my fingers crossed and my hands shaking……!

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32 Responses to “Been At A Painting Too Long?”

  1. judylobo Says:

    Laughed loudly at my photo on your blog. I knew that the hysterical image I captured at the National Zoo would inspire you to blog (maybe not to paint) but to blog. Paint on my friend and blog on.

  2. Carol King Says:

    wow….I’ve heard of one hour photo (in the days when we still used film) but now one hour painting? VERY impressive!

  3. Don Says:

    Very funny skeleton pic. I know just how that feels!

    Great mini-painting that keeps the essence and ditches the clutter. I love the yellows and oranges in the background of the photo, but they distract. Instead, you brought a touch of them into her arm and the bananas.
    ps. Thanks for your generous comment!

  4. bonnieluria Says:

    Judy- Some photos just scream out ” Blog pic, Blog pic” and this one did even BEFORE Halloween.

    Carol- one hour photo actually refers to how long it takes me to fire off a shot with my new camera. First, open the 623 page manual. Stop shaking. Find the page I want which is never listed in the index in a logical way. Take out the magnifying glass to read it. Set the dials. Watch subject either die of old age or walk away.
    So, yeah, one hour photo………

    Don, welcome, officially. And thanks for the specific comments. Generic ones are also welcomed, people, but I learn more from the specific ones.
    Spoken like the photographer/artist that you are.
    Your new work is really stunning.

  5. razzbuffnik Says:

    Not knowing when to stop is one of my greatest failings.

    Your purchase of the small canvases reminded me of some very tiny and exquisite Di Vinci figure drawings I once saw. When I saw the drawings I couldn’t help wonder why they were so small; about half an inch. There were about 30 or 40 of the little figures, all in different attitudes, doing various kinds of field work, on one small page and my first thought was perhaps that paper was so expensive.

    About a day or two later, the penny finally dropped, when I realized that Leonardo was using very small strokes so he could sketch very quickly by not having to cover large areas with his pen.

  6. w1kkp Says:

    Oh, that skeleton picture! Marvelous, really. Creativity and Boundaries…hmmm….I like it. As to your shaking hands, I think If you had TV tonight you would have heard Obama talk about his grandmother, who died this morning on the eve of election day, and you’d simply feel calmer.

  7. carolking Says:



  8. Melinda Says:

    Oh, my, that is the funniest photo and it is much better than any lecture on when one should let the painting be! Thank you for sharing it.

    Your work is fabulous too. Lots of energy, a moment in time captured with looseness but fully established in the composition. Well done.

    It’s taken me fo*r hours to typ# out this messa ge as I had trouble typing with my fingers crosSed and my ey e s crossed too. Very hard to See the keyboard…very hard to type. Will be very happy by Wedne@day after Obama wins….!!

  9. Wreggie Says:

    Oh that is so bad to the bone Bonnie.

  10. Bill Guffey Says:

    Funny pic, Bonnie. And it feels so true sometimes. During a recent Ken Auster workshop I jotted down a quote from him on this very subject. “You never finish a painting…you abandon it.”

    I really like you one hour study. How do you like the Raymar surface? I’ve thought about getting the sample pack for some time.

  11. bonnieluria Says:

    Razz, really, you too? Who’d have guessed! I’ve seen some fine artists do one inch by one inch trials to establish composition. That’s pretty much the foundation for a good piece.

    Pat- That photo was waiting for a caption, wasn’t it? I listened to his speech this morning about his grandmother and looked behind him at the realness and diversity of his audience. I was very, very moved.

    Carol- thanks and hard to believe it was 3 years ago we were all bobbing like listless corks in the water.

    Melinda- thanks for your very funny and generous comment. I laughed as I read the last paragraph. I appreciate your visit again.
    Let’s keep breathing and hoping and maybe painting too.

    Wreggie- you are very funny. Always very funny. Have you fixed your comment button on your blog? I’ve tried to leave several witty, effervescent, jaunty comments but couldn’t. NOW what should I do with them??

    Bill- love that added quote. It’s really brilliant.
    I like the Raymar panels a lot. They hold up well and I like the tooth of the surface. I tried masonite but for my taste or perhaps my abilities, found it too smooth and slippery.
    Try the sample pack. And go from there.

  12. nathaliewithanh Says:

    Hi Bonnie! That little painting is great. I hope you do a lot them! I like how you made complete abstraction of the background.

    The photograph illustrates so well the artist and the unending quest for perfection. I’m afraid this could be true of all forms of art. You’d have to wonder whether artists would have painted so much different pieces if they did not need a paycheck, or would have worked and reworked the same pieces forever.

    On a different note, I went to see the traveling Impressionist exhibit from the Chicago Art Institute, and there were quite a few Renoirs. I had never noticed how the eye color of some of his characters look so incredibly unnatural – almost electric blue. I’m thinking about Two Sisters for example. Any idea why that is?

  13. TerryC Says:

    Hysterically funny and insightful as usual, Bonnie. And I certainly agree with your state of mind the day before “history is made”.

    I’ll just have another glass of wine now that I’ve voted……

  14. bonnieluria Says:

    Nathalie, seems to me from viewing Van Goghs’ paintings from very close range, that the use of color is so mysterious and infinite. It’s what enabled him to represent skin tones that although they’re bold green strokes, looked like skin in the context of the painting. It’s genius, really.

    I’m using photos as references rather than real life subjects so I can leave out, omit and edit what I don’t want. I’ve recognized that I like candid poses and don’t want to ask people if I can take their picture because then I lose the purity of their actions. I just learn to mentally cut out the background noise of unwanted objects.

    Terry- we did the deed at 7 AM and now I’m in crazy mode until around 8 tonight. I know you don’t have TV and ours is out since Omar but I must see this historic night and will get over to a friend on the other side of the hill to watch later. A new day….let’s hope. And maybe for here too….

  15. Marian Fortunati Says:

    That photo is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO right on!! Gosh but I wish I could… wait… I think I’m going to print it out and post it on my easel just to remind me!!
    I love the RayMar canvases but haven’t used the small ones too much, yet.
    Didn’t get the sample pack, but I’d be interested in hearing your view on the different grades of canvas and the linen. I always use canvas because I’m basically cheap, but people tell me linen is better…… Not sure if that’s because someone told them it was better or it really is.
    LOVE your new little one….
    When your fingers are uncrossed I look forward to the finished piece…

  16. bonnieluria Says:

    Marian, I had ordered linen panels from Blick art supplies, and because they’re not good quality, they warped and curved as soon as I put a wash of paint to the surface.
    The RayMar panels are solid, and hold up very well. I like the grain of linen. Depending on whether you want to do plein air or studio, panels work best for outside but stretch canvas is good for studio.
    Try a sample pack and see what you think.

    Today my fingers are uncrossed, I’m breathing deeply and calmly, and of course, trying to catch up on lost sleep from staying up all night!!

    That photo hit a chord with so many artists- funny how we’re all so similar in our approaches!

  17. Paz Says:

    Such a funny photo on the top. LOL!

    Love the bottom painting, too. I like that you include the photo and the painting for us to see. Great job, as always.


  18. Nava Says:

    Having at it with your paint and brush really worked! I also am trying to not draw, putting some very basic lines and then go for the brush. Much more fun, much less stiff, and much more risky (which brings us back to the fun!).

    And no need for crossed fingers and shaking hands anymore! YAY!!!

  19. david lobenberg Says:

    Comrade: I give the skeleton photo the “People’s Choice” award! I’m going to try some Raymar panels. Thanks for the link!

  20. Judy (Reggie's sister) Says:

    I like this post. I want to take more pictures of the locals like you do when we come back to St. Croix in Feb. (for painting) I am so inspired by your paintings. I love them. I want to try painting some of the pictures you post but wouldn’t do it with out your permission. My style is so different than yours but I LOVE your style!!! I need to learn from you when to stop but if I painted from that picture I would have to put that lady sitting with her back turned in the picture.

  21. wrjones Says:

    ANOTHER good painting. You are really skilled with these.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Kim English. He is a plein air painter/teacher. In his workshop he does a week of multiple figures in the land/cityscape with 10 minutes to paint. I can just see you being a star in his class.

    Another route to these small paintings is to buy a roll of linen then cut to size. For example, for a 6″x8″ you might cut 6.5″ x 8.5″ then tape it down to paint on. When on a trip you can tape the wet painting to a hotel door or wall until it dries then it is a small flat piece of linen easy to pack. If it turns out well you can glue it to a panel. There are a couple of glues that are reversible. You can buy gatorboard or actual wood panels fairly cheaply. With the gatorboard it is easy to trim down to odd sizes. This is nice for the case where 3.27″ x 4.56″ of your original 6″x8″ is the only part you like.

  22. nancy Says:

    Yikes, Bonnie, by the time I get here all the witty stuff’s been said. Love the pic and the painting.

    I like #359 linen on birch from Wind River Arts for work I hope will be a keeper. They varnish the backs. Looks impressive and doesn’t warp.

    Just ordered cotton panels from Ray Mar for a paint out. I like their wet canvas and panel carriers………jeeze, I hope I ordered the panel one.

  23. bonnieluria Says:

    Paz- a picture=1,000 words, right? Glad you liked the painting/photo comparison.

  24. bonnieluria Says:

    Nava- it’s nutty to paint as though our life depended on it! It should be fun, ( when it doesn’t make you wring your hands, which by the way, HAVE stopped shaking!!)
    What a day/what a time to be around.

    David- they’re products are very fine and so is their service. Glad I could provide some info for you, out there in the land of plenty.

    Bill- some great tips about canvas options that I never would have thought of. And sometimes all I like is one small area- so I could then go into quilting.
    I’m going to see if Kim English has a web site or a blog like the rest of us addicts.

    Nancy- you’re never bereft of witticisms. Just get here early and you can be first!
    As always, your fine comments do me proud. I’ll look into Wind River Arts, too- thanks.
    Another paint out! Can’t wait to see what you do.

  25. bonnieluria Says:

    Judy- you can use my photos- it’d be an honor for me to think I could inspire you.

    Your style is really your own and so very good. You’ve flattered me.
    I think we run into trouble trying to paint like someone else. ( I say that, because that’s easier to say to someone else than abide by it yourself.)
    What I gain so much by looking at other work, is how people approach things. And see things. And then, invariably, it comes out like me. Just as yours should come out like yours.
    Coming in February! Great, we can all join up for a meal.

  26. Judy (Reggie's sister) Says:

    We will be there again in Feb. and I would love to get together for a meal. I sure did enjoy the one we had last time. I look forward to going to the pickled Greek.
    Well, If I paint from your photo, I will have to bring it along or scan it and send it to you to see. There is a blog I read sometimes where an artist shows a photo and challenges other artists to paint it and then she posts all the different paintings that were painted from the same picture. It is so cool to see all the amazing diffferences. Like you said, each style comes through. I too get so inspired by other artist’s work. Thank you for allowing me to use your photos.

  27. Frank Gardner Says:

    Another nice and fresh painting from you Bonnie.
    Way to go.
    I like Raymar panels a lot. That is about all I use these days. I like the single primed linen. I find I can wipe back down to white if need be and the paint just glides right on.
    Gesso stains and you can never really get it back down to white.
    I DO use a few home gessoed masonite boards once in a while if I want a smoother surface.

  28. wrjones Says:

    Good morning, Bonnie.
    I tried sending this to your email but it was rejected as being invalid – are you one of these scammers operating out of Nigera?

    I couldn’t find a blog for Kim English – he spends his time painting instead of blogging.

    Here is a site with some of his work to view. I think almost all of his work is plein air. He paints really fast.

    Looking at your work, I think you might find a class with him very instructive and enjoyable.

    I had a workshop with him on Mackinaw Island – it was a wonderful experience. The island is beautiful.

  29. bonnieluria Says:

    Frank- I like the Ray Mar so far. I’ve just tried ordering some linen panels from Dick Blick since I had other things I needed too and the shipping charges here are very high. Thought I’d consolidate and not order separately from Ray Mar if the Blick turns out ok.

    I like the weave of the linen showing through and the way it grabs the paint. Masonite doesn’t help me step away from detail because of how smooth it is.

    Bill- Hey – this is a first-two comments from you in the same post and the second one isn’t a reprimand to belch out another painting. I like it!

    Thanks for the mention of Kim’s work. I had a good long look yesterday and just being mentioned in the same sentence with his name is good enough for me.

    If I painted and didn’t blog, you wouldn’t have crossed my screen, which would have been sad.

    PS- we changed servers and had to change email. You can reach me at luriaslure at gmail dot com.

  30. Linda Blondheim Says:

    That photo is priceless. Love your lively market paintings. I get such a feel for the culture through your eyes. Brava!!!!

  31. Sharon Crute Says:

    Why am I always at the bottom of your comment list? And why do I resemble that artist at the top of your post?

    Painting quickly infuses such life – as your lovely little piece illustrates. A well-know painter told me years ago that a painting should be finished at any given moment.

  32. bonnieluria Says:

    Linda- thanks for the comments. I always appreciate a compliment from you and am glad you find a taste of the culture through the words and images.

    You are not at the bottom. It only matters that you’re here.
    Even if you’re the last one on the plane, everyone arrives at the same time!

    YOU? The artist at the top of this post? I’d never have thought. But it’s such a generally embraced feeling by all of us it seems. That’s why I thought it would be a fun thing to post.
    Now we’re all exonerated!
    And in good company.

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