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.
Well said Liz! Having wrestled a few too many paintings myself I think I will take your advice and just show up and let go! I love the fun colors on this one.ReplyDelete
What an amazing painting and thank you for sharing your advice!ReplyDelete
SOO much fun Liz, I love this!!ReplyDelete
This turned out beautifully! Nice title too. I've always wanted to take a workshop with Carolyn, maybe if I ever more back to the states I'll be able to catch one.ReplyDelete
Thank you for those well-put thoughts, Liz! I often forget about the needed interaction...then land in trouble.ReplyDelete
Love your painting!
Very well said, Liz. I'm in the middle of the same 'battle' right now. Hoping to win it, of course!ReplyDelete
In the midst of battle I find it helpful to ask, "What's possible here?"Delete
That is such wise advice and you put it so eloquently. Trusting the process is SO hard! I have recommended your blog to many. Your insights are invaluable. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your lovely comments Nancy, and thanks so much for sharing my blog, I really appreciate that you find value in it.Delete
Love this whimsical piece and the lessons learned!ReplyDelete
You have expressed such an important element of creating and enjoying the creative process. It's kind of like the "growing pains" that we experience in so many ways in life.ReplyDelete
Well said - gloves are obviously applauding!
Lol! That cracked me up Dorothy, should have thought of the gloves applauding while I was painting them into life.Delete
Wouldn't that be a great perspective, imagining your painting applauding you as you're painting it!
An interesting read and a lovely work.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this wise information. I don't think it that has been said any better.ReplyDelete
Very important thoughts, giving yourself permission to be part of that conversation not just a spectator to the process, a slave to the reference is what I find difficult. Love the painting, when did you think of the title (which I love) before,during,after?ReplyDelete
Hey Randy, thought of the title about 3/4's of the way through. Kept rolling a lot of (really lame) names around and then this one occurred to me and immediately resonated.Delete
Glad you like it :-)
Wonderful color and light. It looks like something from a bygone era.ReplyDelete
There is an adventure waiting every time we attempt to put our vision on canvas. The painting has a mind of its own.
Beautiful painting and wonderful lesson!ReplyDelete
I love the dance metaphor. I've long thought that there's an ongoing conversation among artist, painting and viewer. I see I should add painting-subject to the mix as well.ReplyDelete
It's a wonderful painting you've done.
Isn't Carolyn Anderson the best teacher ever!