Monday, October 27, 2014

A blank canvas

I picked up a new canvas yesterday.
It's big - 30 x 40 inches.  It's white.  And it's scary.  I know I can manipulate paint. I know I can fill it with an interesting image. I've worked through the process thousands of times.  But it's always hard to get started.

I was reading a book today by Austin Kleon called "Show Your Work."  In it he explains simple steps artists can take to becoming more visible.  One step was to "take people behind the scenes," to help them understand the creative process.  "When a painter talks about her 'work,' she could be talking about two different things:  There's the artwork, the finished piece, framed and hung on a gallery wall, and there's the art work, all the day-to-day stuff that goes on behind the scenes in her studio:  looking for inspiration, getting an idea, applying oil to a canvas, etc.  There's 'painting,' the noun, and there's 'painting' the verb.  As in all kinds of work there is a distinction between the painter's process, and the products of her process."

I have always been and always will be a process based artist.  I paint intuitively.  I let the colors blend and form into images as I continue to add layers to the surface.  Sometimes I use photographs for inspiration, but most of the time I just let the painting tell me where it's going.  My hands are inspired by the memories I have. I get lost in the process and hours go by with lightening speed.  But sometimes I get stopped at a traffic light and get confused about which way to go.  So I'll take a break and revisit the canvas with fresh eyes.

I recently accepted a commission to create a painting about the first moment you get to the beach.  I love the ocean and have lots of experience with this subject matter. So I'm going to tame that blank canvas and bend it to my will.  I'll document the process and will enjoy your feedback.

I started by spraying down my canvas with water.

I then applied cadmium yellow and yellow ochre both of which were diluted with matte medium and a little water.

I sketched in a horizon line and boardwalk with pthalo blue.  I don't usually center my compositions but this one called for it.

I then sprayed the surface with water to loosen up the lines.

I'll let it dry for now and let the painting tell me what do do next.

"A lot of people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work.  They never see the side of the work you go through to produce the outcome."                                                      -Michael Jackson
                                                                                                                    (as quoted by Austin Kleon)

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