A little exercise never hurts. This painting exercise called the Limited Stroke Challenge was posted by artist Nancy Colella on Daily Paintworks. It’s purpose is twofold: She wanted us to use every stroke efficiently, and to remind us not to be stingy with the paint. Nancy says, “The result will be a rather abstract, simple painting with wonderful surface quality and a “effortless” feel!”
(The part about being stingy with the paint made me think about how varied the goals of artists can be. Artists who paint primarily to sell originals can pile on the paint, creating beautiful textures that beg to be touched. Artists like me, who paint with reproduction in mind, have to think about how the piece will scan, and how it will look in print. Thick, juicy strokes can look cheesy in a flat print.)
We were told to plan in advance how many strokes we thought we’d need to create the painting, then paint it in that many strokes. Hash marks keep a running tally. By definition, a stroke ends when the brush is lifted. Some people did some amazing work in under 30 or 40 strokes, but having done a few 100 stroke paintings with great difficulty, I knew my limitations! I felt it was a sufficient challenge to assign myself a maximum of 75 strokes. I went over a tiny bit, using 78, because there were some things at the end that I HAD to fix. If I’d had another 25 strokes, I could have fixed the drawing enough to be happy with it.
“Every Stroke Counts” by Lesley Spanos. Acrylic painting on Multimedia Artboard, 5″ x 5″. Copyright ©2011 Lesley Spanos, all rights reserved.
It was bothering me. There were things I had to fix before I could move on to the next painting. So I did. The drawing is still a little wonky, but it’s better than it was:Available on Artfire