"I don't feel like painting"
"I'm afraid I'm just going to mess things up"
"What if I only paint something crappy and end up feeling even worse?"
"I'm too tired to paint"
"I'm not inspired"
And on, and on, and on... And anyone who has thought any of the above thoughts also knows that all it takes is forcing yourself to be in the studio for at least an hour until something happens. Even if it's something "crappy", it is better than nothing. Hey, we've got to get the creative juices flowing again somehow, right?
On Sunday I finally worked up the courage to force myself to go into my studio. I stared at my big 5' x 4' baby for a good 20 minutes thinking about what I needed to do, where things were working, where they weren't, different ways to approach all the different problems...
|Work in Progress, oil on canvas, 5' x 4'|
...until finally I decided I was ready to dive back in and try to get some work done on it. I was afraid because I hadn't painted in about a month and, as any artist who has had a dry spell knows, it is hard to get back into that same rhythm. I began to grab the paint tubes and brushes I needed when... Crap. I realized I had run out of Titanium White. Still in my pijamas at 3 pm on a Sunday I, naturally, opted for not going to the art store to buy more white paint. And I didn't want to use flake or zinc white when I had been using titanium white. So instead I unwrapped the 20-pack of 4" x 4" canvas boards that had been sitting on my studio floor for a few months and messed around.
I didn't want to mess around mindlessly and just produce puke on a canvas, I wanted to try to create something interesting (at least to me) and that fit in with the work I have been creating in the past few months. As of late I have been trying to work in a somewhat automated way where I begin with a vague idea, put it down on canvas, and then break it down. By "break it down" I mean dividing the canvas into intersecting and overlapping spacial planes that create the illusion of movement through space and give depth to the painting. While I am doing this, I also allow myself to stray from this routine and experiment.
This is the first little painting that came out on Sunday. I have always liked the look and feel of organic shapes. Once I had the green blob in position, I began thinking about how I would break the image down. Using the end of my brush like a pencil, I began to draw lines in the thick paint for reference. Instead of being guidelines, these lines became part of the painting.
|Globby Experiment 1, oil on canvas board, 4" x 4"|
After having fun with it, I decided to move on to a different canvas. As I began blocking out shapes and playing with colors, I realized the shapes looked like a very simplified landscape. I ran with this idea, forcing myself to resist the urge to start fudging with details or creating overly representational elements. The best way to keep myself from trying to get into details was to use a relatively large brush (for a 4" x 4" canvas).
|Experiment 2, oil on canvas board, 4" x 4"|
The last little painting I worked on that afternoon was more of an experiment. I found that by using the other end of the brush I could practically remove a layer of paint without entirely removing the image below. It produced a bit of a screen, like a semi-transparent layer overlapping an opaque one. I had fun, but once I was just fudging with lines mindlessly, I put the brush down and left the studio.
|Experiment 3, oil on canvas board, 4" x 4"|
There are things I like and things I hate about these three paintings. Each one brought up new ideas, questions, and problems. Will I keep working on them? I don't know, maybe. They were much needed exercises. And here's to hoping I've ended my unproductive dry spell...