"Dodge in Blue and White" | 6"x6" | Oil on panel
When I paint a demo. for my students the resulting painting isn't usually frame worthy. I thought that would be the case with this painting but fortunately it turned out well. The exercise for that evening was a memory exercise. What I did was I looked at my photo reference for a few minutes, then put it away and began to paint.
Now, I know you're thinking, "Wow, you painted that entirely from MEMORY?"
No. I started this painting from memory. I blocked in all my big shapes using everything I could remember from my photo reference. Once my canvas was covered I did my best to make corrections and adjustments, but there came a point where I couldn't proceed any further without looking at my photo for the information I couldn't remember.
How did my painting look? Awful, nothing like a classic Dodge van, more like my 6 year old daughter's idea of a van painted using her left foot. So, I pulled my photo back out, working quickly (because it was a demo and my students were loosing hope after seeing how poorly things were turning out) I corrected what I needed to and brought it to a finish.
Why bother starting this way if I had to finish by using my reference? So much of painting is about learning and by that I mean not just learning how to copy what's there, how to mix colors or apply paint, but learning by building a visual library of memories and gaining a better understanding of how things are formed and why. Like why light behaves the way it does, why a reflection is the way it is or why the color of the sea changes when it's near the shore vs. when it's near the horizon.
The more I paint the more I understand about how our world is shaped and that in turn has made me a better painter.
Are you brave enough to give the memory painting exercise a shot? I promise you'll learn something if you do.