“Paint What You Love” by Carolyn Hancock

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Flootie.com Artist Carolyn Hancock expands on a subject I speak of often. We feel it is visible in an artists work when they paint what they love to paint. To see more of Carolyn’s works visit her profile page at Carolyn Hancock

Painting faces: that’s when I find total enjoyment and satisfaction in my art. I search the eyes and the nuances of movement around them that signal emotion, mood and character, and my pastel strokes respond to that feeling. I can see where shadows and light shape the planes of the face in a different direction. Little spots of light that create excitement. Subtle shapes of the lip that define that one person.

The face is easy. Not that I always paint it perfectly, but it’s easy.

In the beginning my paintings were mostly vignettes, but as I began to paint more complex backgrounds, the studying cycle was renewed. Depth and perspective became as important as the curving of a face, so studying and painting landscapes hit the agenda.

Redbeard by Carolyn Hancock
Redbeard by Carolyn Hancock

I ventured into complex backgrounds in my portrait and figurative work, and learned how to paint landscapes behind people. Now those are hard, but they were great teachers. I struggled and learned how to paint hundreds of different greens, how to imagine a scene, how to move things around and how to eliminate things.

What I learned most of all was that easel time should be spent painting what you love. This year, my entire body of work has shifted back to painting people. I enjoy painting the wonder and beauty found in the face, knowing that, if the portrait requires it, any background can be added or changed.

Into the Blue by Carolyn Hancock
Into the Blue by Carolyn Hancock

Then questions started popping. How can the eye be directed to the point of interest, to flow around the painting and back to the focal point? Could the rules of value be narrowed down to an understandable few? What determines great use of color? Could I really learn to problem solve before ever touching the paint surface?

There are a lot of artists whose work I admire. As I looked through their websites, I slowly saw unity within the work of each one. The colors chosen within each painting were harmonious; some bold, some mellow, but all just perfect. The compositions were so good they were invisible; they simply took me into the painting. I wondered how I could achieve that level of artistry, until I saw the tiny word, “mentorship.”

Rebecca by Carolyn Hancock
Rebecca by Carolyn Hancock

The artist I chose to work with has stretched me into thumbnails, value studies, value directions, compositional techniques, and color tightening. Perfection yet? No, but I am painting what I love and getting better at it. I’ll second the belief of Bill Davidson that, “nothing is clearer to me than that, if the process is enjoyable, I will paint more often and better.”

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