Developing concepts

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Certainly new things can come into existence by accident, without necessarily knowing the outcome. That might likely happen when that which already exists is combined, intentionally or unintentionally, with something quite different. However, there is virtually nothing in the visible and invisible world that came into existence by accident…without a well considered idea, plan, concept, and purpose; nature is a perfect example.

I believe the same should be applied to our creative efforts. So, we must first address a couple of important questions: What do we want to communicate, and how can we best do that?

To answer those questions, I think it best to spend the time doing preliminary work. It is most beneficial because it helps identify, define, and clarify the direction the final work will take. “I want to paint a pretty picture” is not a satisfactory concept. In my own experience, and I’m sure in the experience of many others, the first attempt at discovery is usually not the best. Below are examples of the way I work out ideas. (Click images to enlarge)

The first of two photos used to inform my preliminary monochromatic studies.

The second of two photos used to inform my preliminary monochromatic studies.


What do you want to communicate and how can you best do that?


These four monochromatic studies, each 4.25″ x 5.68″, were done using Raw Umber (no white) on white canvas. Each is uniquely different, representing varying moods and compositions. They are all proportional to 9″ x 12″, 12″ x 16″ , 18″ x 24″, 30″ x 40″, etc. This is my preferred way of developing concepts.


Many artists prefer to work out their ideas by doing thumbnail sketches. Edgar Payne provides us with an excellent example of that method. Notice the check marks, most likely denoting the one’s he preferred.


“New England Light” – 8.88″ x 17.5″ – Oil  (Here’s one concept brought to fruition) This painting is available for purchase HERE.

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