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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Staying Open

"After Dark"
Oil on linen - 6x8"
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Ha ha! Okay I used a totally blurry photo reference for this painting thinking that would surely force me to paint looser, and somehow I managed to find order in the chaos.

I have a feeling this journey to paint differently may be leading me somewhere other than where I intended to go....

On that note, I'm embracing the wisdom of  Lao Tzu: "A good traveler has no definite plans and no intention of arriving."

Here's a look at the photo reference:


  1. Great "trick". You certainly loosened up! It works! I can SO relate, as I too struggle with this every day! My favorite quote:
    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to go in the opposite direction." (Albert Einstein) Why is it so difficult to simplify?

  2. Love the quote Nancy!

    I think what is difficult about simplifying is really understanding the essence of the subject. We are distracted by the details.

    I learned this in my coach training as well, to squint down my ears and listen to intonation, body language, key words and delivery in order to really "hear" what someone is saying.

    In painting we progress from painting what we see to asking "What is the fundamental structure underneath the detail?" and evolve (I hope) to "What is my creative voice saying about how to arrange these shapes, values and colours in a compelling way?"

  3. Lovely painting,you have a nice balance of looseness and conformity.I have always painted in a very realistic style and am finding the challenge of painting 30 paintings in 30 days a real help to loosen up my style.

    1. Great that you're taking this on Roger, I'll be following your progress!

  4. Wow - you did a fabulous job with this painting.
    Love your pattern of light.

  5. I don't think it's tight I think your paintings have a tension which is quite balanced and a good place to be, it creates Energy and brings your paintings alive, .... very pleasing to my eye!

  6. Lovely harmony. Using a poor or manipulated reference can absolutely help in the creative process. I read a great article by the artist Jeremy Mann about this. great job on trying something new! cheers!

  7. Thanks for the feedback guys, it's great to hear your different takes on this piece...

  8. I love the painting.....would love to walk down that street. So warm..........

  9. Beautiful as usual Liz. I love the slice of sky...just want to fly right through it.

    I know a local artist who did a whole series of night time cityscapes/urban roads... but I believe they are all done with wet roads...which adds all the dazzling reflections.

  10. I love the way you incorporate coaching into painting -- what is the nugget of truth that is hidden under what we see on the surface? Coaching seems like such a fit with painting, although I really think that it is just that you have shown that it is so. Happy New Year -- you are inspirational!

  11. Ha Ha is right. Your inclusion of the photo reference made me laugh (thanks for that). You did make lovely order from the chaos. I am thinking of trying to paint with my left hand in order to 'loosen up'. Eeek.

  12. That patch of blue sky is the center jewel in this gem of a painting - beautiful!

  13. Love the color harmony and loose style! Happy to have found your blog!

  14. Love it. I save all my blurry shots for just that reason.

  15. OK, I'll bite. Why do you want to paint looser? I think of you as a very successful artist painting your landscapes. But I am intrigued with the "why" for changing your style.

  16. Great question Paula. The quest is not to change my style, it is to continue to evolve as a painter.

    I have moved more and more away from landscapes in the last 3 years, and with a changing interest in subject matter, I have found a tendency to paint in a more controlled fashion due to the fact that I am out of my comfort zone.

    So the goal is to tackle challenging subject matter without going into a snowplow - because playing it safe leads to paintings that are tighter than I would like.

    What I'm realizing with this leap back into painting after a long hiatus is it's not exactly "loose" I am after, just not "scared and careful".