100 Problems in a Painting

100 Problems in a Painting


A painting is a problem to be solved…WRONG!


    A painting instead is a series of small problems, each with its own unique solution. Every brush stroke, every value, every color choice/mix, is a question that crosses the artist’s mind. These questions are more subconscious than anything else. At most you may utter to yourself “what color next,” or “how about some of this?”
    So, why 100? Well, I just picked the lowest big number I could really. However, it’s not without reason. Every element, starting as a shape or line, built into a form in space with value and lighting… these are the basics, but also the process of building a 2D image. These are all problems to be solved.
    Creative Problem Solving… It is at its core the true goal of any artist. In school most people grew up hating word problems, but as an artist I thrived on them. It gave me context for the meaningless numbers to exist and a situation to actually solve the problem. Just like in math, art has word problems.  The only difference is that there are infinite variables and answers for the same problem.


If Jeff is making a painting and has some paint. A tube of paint is 2oz and covers a 9 square foot area. If Jeff makes a painting that is 18 square feet, how many tubes of paint did he empty by the time he finished it?


Answer? None! …Because he has more than one color and a pint of molding paste.

    Sure I set up the premise to be a trick, but the idea is still the same. Infinite possibilities begin in the sketchbook, and through a series of steps are narrowed down to an artist’s own style and thought process. Then with a series of challenges and simple problems, a piece is build from smaller more manageable problems.
    “Break it down into simple shapes,” is the advice many young artists receive when asking for advice. However, this is a very simple truth that is often overlooked. Break everything down, grab a brush or pencil, and solve those 100 simple problems!