Artist Ann Rea
What’s underneath the painting?
hey I realized that most people never get to see what’s under the oil painting so I thought that I’d give you a quick peek, as it's progressing.  As you can see, it starts with a charcoal drawing. Why charcoal?  Because it leaves a strong line that’s not too black. And it’s a medium that’s easy to shape.  It responds to subtle pressure, unlike a Sharpie pen.  It’s also a medium that doesn’t bleed through to the surface of the oil painting, like graphite can, if you used a pencil. In its rawest form painting is a bit like cooking.  The ingredients are shapes, lines, masses of color layered over other masses of color.  And you have to assemble these ingredients in a certain order.  You can’t put the cherry on top of the cake before you’ve mixed the batter.  And each element is adjusted relative to how it exists in context to the whole image. How do I decide what to do next or in what sequence?  The best analogy that I can offer here is that it’s a bit like dancing.  You have to learn the steps to a particular dance and master your technique.  It helps to be physically fit and have some rhythm.  It’s not good if you just can’t hear the beat.  After that you just feel it.  You follow the beat.  There’s really not that much thinking involved.  As a matter of fact, when I’m thinking or tensing, I step back or I leave the painting for days at a time and return with a fresh perspective.  Then I can really see it.
Why do painters squint? What do they see?
Why does Ann Rea squint when she paints? People often ask me, "Why do painters squint?"  They squint, or I squint, to simplify what I’m seeing.  When you squint down you’ll notice that most detail disappears.  When these details disappear I can focus my attention on breaking down what I’m observing into a few simple and coherent shapes. Squinting is not helpful in determining the color I perceive.  I have to keep my eyes open and relaxed, not fixated or staring, when I want to observe color. Colors darken when you squint.  Give it a try. Simplification of what I'm seeing is necessary before I can translate my observations into a number of related shapes and forms.  These forms are what I’ll render on canvas.  Not the tree, the road, the sky, or things or ideas but forms.  I’ll pay particular attention to edge of the forms too. Squinting at my subject allows me to reduce details to simple patterns that I can manage.  That’s what I’m doing.  I’m simplifying what I see to it’s essential essence of form and light.  Light shapes a form in space. I never squint at my canvas.  I will work on it and back up from it several times during a painting session.  This allows me to see the “big picture”.  I can see the canvas from various distances as its developing and I can see my work in relationship to my subject.