Loose paintings are referred to a being very artsy, thickly painted paintings, with lots of impasto and bravura in the brush stroke. Tight paintings are more photographic in appearance and are very realistic. Both require craft and skill to execute. It just becomes a matter of taste, as to which style one likes.
Early in my career, I started out by painting very photographically, and I still do much of my portraits in that style. However, in recent years my love of loose painting has grown, as well as my style. I love the look and the feel of the paint as well as the spontaneous appearance it gives.
One sometimes equates great painting with how tight it is painted or how photographic it looks. That is only half the story, to paint loose still requires sometimes even more craft and skill to say with two strokes, what a photographic style says in 200 strokes. This is part of the challenge I enjoy so much when painting in a loose style.
To best describe the process of a typical “on location” painting, I usually will arrive on the scene, figure the composition, the color, and what it is about the scene that I like. I usually then execute a one-hour loose sketch. Later on in the day, when I return to the studio, I may continue the painting and tighten up the piece, careful not to go into photorealism, but tight enough to share with the viewer the feeling I want. This happens a lot. In fact, many times I will go back into a painting in the studio I have done, and loosen it or tighten it up to reach a happy medium. There are advantages to both styles and many times I try to include both in the same painting.
For example, there is a roughness to lots of the southern landscape paintings that I paint, and they lend themselves to a rough handling of the paint, resulting in a loose painting. Then there are subjects such as architectural pieces, or some formal portraits that require more details and a tighter handling of execution.
At the end of the day artist’s are constantly trying to find inspiration in nature, and fresh ways to represent it. I am thankful every day I have had the opportunity to attempt to do so.