Oil on linen - 9x12"
In a recent post I talked about being flexible rather than tightly wound when life throws us curve balls. In this post I'd like to share what I have learned about how this theory applies to painting.
Askin' for TroubleIn the beginning of a painting, all is good as I start making marks and get things going, but soon, and almost always, I find myself in the "ugly duckling" stage, in that tenuous middle of the painting place where I am not at all sure of a successful outcome. This is when the door to anxious and stressed swings open, beckoning to me to "take charge", and I have found walking through it inevitably leads to my trying to wrestle the painting to the ground, a game I often lose.
A Better ApproachInstead of getting busy trying to predict and control what's going to happen next when in that uncertain place, there's an option to make the much more spacious choice of sensing and responding to what's happening. In this space, there is room for more than just us. The painting and the subject also have something to contribute if we take the time to contemplate and listen.
As you paint, the process of relativity begins, and the painting starts to take on a life of its own. It has valuable information to offer about what to do next, as does the subject, but if you are locked on to a rigid idea about where you want to go, and what needs to happen to get there, you'll miss the great info that is being offered up. It helps to remember that painting isn’t something you do to a canvas - it is a dance between artist, subject and painting, an ongoing conversation until together you have decided the expression is complete.
Carolyn Anderson taught me: "Having a fixed idea about how a painting will go is like walking down a hallway slamming doors of possibility closed behind you." Valuable advice, it's a reminder to step back often and make room for curiosity and intuition to be a part of the painting process. Pay attention, be flexible, and trust - everything you need to know is right there with you.