Playing with paint
This painting of a graceful woman with roses flowed so naturally. I thought I would step out the general process I use. My intuitive art approach is guided and naturally flows but this always depends on my ability to listen and take risks. That hesitation of not wanting to lose what is there is very real. My best work comes when I pay attention to the small guiding voices. We all have them but it is so easy to ignore them and just do what we always do. The roses in her hair are actually made of a raised layer of impasto medium from a piece of lace. I just used a credit card to scrape the impasto medium through and create the texture. I didn’t know what it would be at that point but trusted the playfulness of the moment in those beginning layers. I love the depth and energy that is built by each layer. Sometimes a layer is lost from sight but it adds to the overall energy of the piece. Painting the roses black and then adding vermillion for the petals was a really different thing for me and it worked. I played and learnt. Two of my favourite things. Much later in the process I created the roses on the top as small white petal shapes that were based on the shapes of the red roses in her hair and then outlined them to match. When you listen to your inner guidance about where to go next, ideas seem to flow naturally.
White canvas beginnings: automatic writing
Select a white canvas and with a sharpie write whatever you are thinking of in that moment. You can set an intention here but don’t get too attached as it might change. I definitely thought that the flowers below would be a girl but that’s not what showed up.
Collage and texture: rule of three
Add collage papers and texture elements you want to use at this point. I added some texture with impasto medium through a piece of lace. You could do it through a stencil or just scrape texture on with an old credit card. I use impasto medium mostly as I prefer the fact that it is transparent. I work with a simple rule of three that guides me. This means that when I add an texture element or paint etc, I will add it to three or more places across the surface with an aim of creating a balance across the page. Probably need to do a whole post on this…
Paint pallet: variety of marks
I then start to add paint to the piece as I am using it as a pallet. Now this is specific to whatever other piece I am working on at the time as I do not know what this will be ( even if in the back of my mind I am thinking girl or owl etc..). I am conscious of not putting wet warm and cool colours together as if they mix they will create mud. I will layer the colours when they are dry. I want the paint colours to balance on the surface so I add it in three or more places after I have finish using a colour for my other piece, sometimes this is with a brush, where I create larger blocks of colour or I may use my fingers to create dots or a skewer to create some interesting lines. Using different types of marks creates interesting details in the art work.
Imagining worlds: cloud dreaming
I keep building layers until I see something in the paint layers. If something is not obvious at first I will either keep building layers until I see something or change canvases. Often I will see something as the canvas sits against the wall and just know what it is. This process is about imaginative play. Remember playing that game where you looked at the shapes of the clouds and you saw a dragon or a face or perhaps a fairy. You allowed yourself to look at the shapes and connect them with an image you knew and that is exactly what I do with my paintings. Sometimes I will photograph the piece at this stage using my iPad. This is a quick and easy way to help you step back from the work and see it with fresh eyes. It is so easy to get lost in the layers. Sometimes I will add acrylic inks as drips down the page and I will tilt the canvas so they run in patterns. Their is no image yet and so there is really nothing to lose.
Finding form: trusting
Once an idea for a shape starts to form, I get a piece of chalk and draw it onto the canvas. The shape may be anything. I just have to trust at this step. If there is texture across where I am seeing a face, that’s okay. I trust it is meant to be.
Outlines: coloured blacks
I then bravely go over the chalk outlines of the image in paynes gray which is a blue-black. I use this as my black as it creates such a good coloured black. Pure black paint doesn’t have the life and energy that a coloured black contains. If I want a different black I will mix other complementary colours together. ‘A favourite coloured black mix is Golden acrylics quinacrydine turqoise and quinacrydine burnt orange.
Blocking in: trusting the process
Now I will decide what areas I need to block in. I usually use gesso as my white as it is more transparent and I like the surface it creates. I will lightly block in a face or any shape that needs me to build detail layers on it. If I want to keep the pattern in the shape, I will block in the background as I have done with he flowers (work in progress shown below). As always, I need to listen and trust the process and then take my next action.
Next steps: feeling into being
From here I will work on whatever area feels as if it needs to be worked on. The feelings and inner voice that guides me to the next step. It may be tat I need to add colour to an area (such as the vase in the flower piece) so it will stand out from the background. It may be refining the position of the features on a face or adding colour dabs to the background. You may want to add more drips of ink or add a different colour to create more interest and get a balance of dark and light.
Finishing: Risk and allowing
Details and refining are important but more important than this is knowing when to stop. This is something that I am continually learning and relearning. Sometimes a work looks great and you don’t want to risk losing what you have but really if I do not take the risk, I will never know what could have been. This is all about feeling…does it feel complete or do I want to go further. Decide and act. If it doesn’t work, then I create another layer. Acrylic paint and mixed media techniques are a layered journey. I am creating this so it can take as many layers as needed. Painting is about allowing room to play with the process as the story emerges through the layers. Each layer simply adds to this energy The end result is the icing on the cake and not the bit that it is really all about. Letting go and allowing whatever is meant to happen, happen and trusting that whenever I finish is where I am meant to be.
Creating: evolving, learning and change.
Sometimes a finished piece will call me back and I will add to it in some way. Creating is a process that evolves and changes as I do so that a piece that was complete a year ago may no longer be complete. This is the continuing story of an art work and I believe that a painting is never truly complete until it either leaves for a new home or was painted so long ago that it feels as though a different person created it.