In my studio I have a stack of sketches and studies. It's just a pile of doodles and ideas, things that I've hung on to in the anticipation that they can eventually be turned into real paintings, or things that might be helpful as I work on something further down the line.
I created these studies at various times and for varied reasons. Often, they were done when I was stuck on a painting, and I was trying to find a unique way to express myself. Some were done as a pure exercise just for the sake of working through ideas.
Whatever the reason for doing them, it's rewarding to sit down and spend a few minutes churning out a few little studies one after the other. I try to be as creative and free as possible, so my only rule is that anything goes.
I struggled with many of these when I first tried to use the ideas in bigger paintings. It seems to me now that I was trying to do too much with them, turning them into realism, not just taking them as abstract images and trying to make them bigger.
Here are some of my favorites:
Barn and House, abstract. 6x4 oil on linen. 2014
I did this one after trying and failing to paint a complex, larger version in a realistic style. Working on such a small piece of canvas forced me to reduce the image to its most basic, abstract components.
Catoctin Creek, abstract. 4x6, oil on linen. 2015
This is another attempt to arrange my thoughts and ideas after the fact. I've tried to paint this scene many times in all types of weather conditions. Nothing seemed to work. The abstract representation you see here is an expression of my frustration more than anything else.
North Sky. 5x3, oil on linen. 2015
I'm sure that parts of North Sky were done from life while standing on the patio at the old house. I did manage to turn this one into a larger painting, but it never had the vitality of the study.
Sheep study. 3x5, oil on linen. 2014
I used this study to create a larger painting. Even though it was based on a different reference image, I was able to carry over the abstract concepts from one painting to another.