As a fairly traditional, I guess "academic" painter, the methods that I use can sometimes seem restricting and methodical. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy most of the time with the results. It's just that sometimes you get the urge to paint thickly and broadly; you want to slash the paint on like the Van Gogh demon you've always secretly wanted to be. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I'm not in the Sargent-Sorolla-Zorn mode of painting. If you listen real hard to your inner voice, not to be confused with schizo like paranoia, you can figure out that there's a reason that you gravitated to a particular way of painting. Carefully applying paint to a fully mapped out drawing using a carefully mixed palette of values and colors suits me. That's just how it is, and I'm okay with it. I do however, enjoy dabbling in other methods, ones that I have no intention of selling, pressure free slathering, maybe the way that art is occasionally supposed to be.
The "poster" study gives me a chance to step outside of my comfort zone. The idea behind it is to make a miniature version of the painting your about to start. I usually do mine on 6"x8" cheapo canvas boards. I don't want to start thinking of them as precious "masterpieces" because, as I previously stated, the idea is to have some fun, while also figuring out some things that might help me to make a better painting. I'm not about capturing the setup exactly as it appears. Maybe I have a God complex, my wife would say "no maybe's about it!", but I want to arrange the values and colors to capture the inner vision that sparked the idea of the painting in the first place. Right now I'm working a little bit in "back to the future" mode, because I'm making the poster study after already having transferred the final drawing to a larger canvas. What I really should be doing is making several poster studies, trying out a few arrangements, before I start the finished drawing and transfer. This is how the study was traditionally used and it makes a lot of sense. The problem is that in today's world it's just so danged easy to snap a photo of the finished drawing, print it out at 6 x 8 and make a quick poster. I'm at the point in my development now where I need to slow down and do things that will help me get off of this plateau and onto the next level. Spending more time on studies seems like the best way to get there.
In the picture above you can see the poster study and grisaille umber wipe out for my current painting "Gloria Mundi". I decided to limit the poster study to no more than three values for each area. I don't blend the paint, I lay it down in separate value and color patches. I'm looking for the "abstract" quality of the painting as well as composition, color, and tone. I'm not trying to make "art". I love these little color studies but clearly they are an acquired taste. I once had a bunch of them at a solo show, priced very reasonably so that the less wealthy, or as I like to call them "cheapskates" could buy an affordable piece of art; really affordable, as in dirt cheap! I couldn't give them away. Not even one. I guess that's a good thing, because if I start to think of them as too precious, I probably wouldn't be dancing around my studio, blasting "Purple Haze", and letting down what hair I have left!