A couple of weeks ago, I retrieved an old painting I did back in early 2009. It’s difficult to believe that this piece is over 7 years old. Getting it back again (from the other side of the world… it’s a long story), I remembered the thought process I went through when I started painting it:
Don’t be too perfectionist about it; paint outside the lines; don’t try super-realism, etc.
I knew that I was just trying to encourage myself to put paint to canvas and get something done. It was my absolute favourite painting at the time, even though it still turned out a lot neater than what I was initially aiming for. I just remember loving life as I was painting it, even though life at the time wasn’t ideal.
Earlier this week, I prepped 7 canvases with drawings (got a lot of new stuff coming soon) and although this next one didn’t have much direction, I just knew I had to paint it to kind of loosen up the old creativity without being too precious about what I was producing.
Interestingly enough, the original sketch for this next piece looked like this:
I wasn’t in the mood to go and look up reference images for ram or buck horns, so I figured I’d go the “easy” way out and paint wings instead.
This is what followed:
Step 1: Laying down base colour with one of my favourite colours in the Heritage Craft Acrylic range – Beryl Blue.
Step 2: I can’t explain how difficult it is for me to paint “rough” and then just leave it. My tip for keeping the inner perfectionist at bay is to use only one size paintbrush and to resist all temptation to use a finer paintbrush for small detail. In an exercise like this, there’s no “small detail” unless it’s painted with the corner of a big(ger) brush.
Step 3: See the brush strokes on the inside of the right side wing? Something inside was singing when that happened. It was an accident, but a happy accident – something that I would have WISHED I could do in the 2009 painting… if I’d only known how to just let go and let the creativity take over.
Final step: Finished.
I am my own worst critic, so painting like this requires a boatload of acceptance at the end – to just say: “Embrace the creative expression rather than the need to reproduce hyper-reality on that painted surface.”
It’s also important for me to communicate this kind of creative process and the transformation that happens, so that you can see that art isn’t just about making pretty pictures – art changes the artist with every new piece.
Painting makes the artist as much as it makes the art.