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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Angst! and The Process of Painting Abstract Paintings

It's been a year and after all the work with polymer, I need to pick up a paintbrush. It's been so long I need to re-acquaint myself with my media and my tools, so I pick up a piece of 65 lb. drawing paper, deciding ahead of time that my painting will be a failure and not wanting to waste good paper! I play and engage in the delightful initial creative dance, with no expectations - just making marks. Before long I'm kicking myself for using "difficult" paper (it does not respond well to water) because I'm liking what's happening. Then I realize that what's happening has the same feel and impact as what I left off with. Now what?!!! I didn't even want to look at the other piece for a whole year! I talk it over with my muse and come to some important realizations/reminders:

  • I have been trying to force myself on these paintings, trying to get them to look a predetermined "way"
  • I have made a decision ahead of time to "say more with less"
  • By choosing inferior materials I have rejected my work before it has even begun
  • The very existence of a work justifies its existence - I don't have to excuse it
  • I have a lot to say and, dag nab it, if I want to blurt it out in one fell swoop, so be it!
  • This is who I am - I don't have to pretend to be anyone else - I am good enough
  • I have been saying "I trust the process" and then been trying to tell the "process" how it should proceed

Interestingly, after this period of agonizing I have a desire to see last year's unfinished piece. I look at it and find it intriguing. I name it "Urban Infrastructure". I can now analyze what I feel is not working and make decisions, one at a time, to bring it to completion.
The feeling of movement is good and the colours work. It is too bland in the light areas when compared to the graphic impact of the dark, so the light areas need to be "grittier". I want the "vortex" in the upper right diminished a lot, but a faint shadow to remain, reminding me of the process. I need to connect some areas since the black is so solid and dominant, appearing as walls in some areas. I use some different "bridging" techniques to accomplish this, including stamping and palette knife.

I'll live with it for a couple of weeks and see if more touches are needed. I already see the white going up to the upper edge on the left needs to be knocked back a bit and I may need to adjust the colour on the upper right edge, but that may be due to photographing this in the evening. I'll take a better picture in daylight and we'll see.

This painting is exactly what I need right now. It will be fodder for at least the next 40 paintings! As this develops, I'll show you what I'll be doing and how you can use your paintings to inspire new work that gives you a cohesive body of work.


  1. It's so good to see that you are painting again. Your paintings are so beautiful and expressive and I love reading about your process.


    1. Hi Ernie, yes, it feels so good to be pushing paint around again! I do enjoy the exploration of design in 3-D through polymer, but I need to paint. The move back to Montreal was unsettling. It may now be time to leave pc to the young'uns and get back on the road less travelled.
      I've been enjoying warching your painting journey! You have a wonderful sense of colour.

  2. One major point in your blog that I think bears repeating....over and over again.


    Now if we only told ourselves that enough that we might actually believe it.

    Love the painting, love the colours...don't know if it is my screen but they glow in such a warm way!

    Kudos and good job...but you didn't need to hear that right? lol

    Love ya!

    1. Thanks Babe! Kudos are always welcomed, just slap me down if I get a swelled head!