How do I start a painting? I have a few different methods to my madness… Sometimes I just jump right in without any notes, sketches or ideas and start working, covering the canvas, seeing what works, what doesn’t and developing what occurs accidentally. I even envision this to be the work of my unconscious brain, or the “Collective Unconsciousness” so to speak. Is there a higher power, or powers helping me, guiding me as I work? Perhaps one could say so, but it really does stem from the artists overall life experience. What have they done? Who have they known or interacted with? This all affects a person, making them who they are. I believe that spews forth onto the canvas.
Other times, I will have a specific plan in mind. I will take the time to think my way through an idea and maybe even sketch out something. Before I even begin the piece, I have already thought of subject matter, design, color and overall end product.
Most of the time though, I tend to combine these two ways of working, borrowing from the free painting technique while still having a plan and/or sketch. Nothing is set in stone. The finished product may look different and often is better than the sketch. Many times, I’ll experience a “Happy Accident” which then takes me in a slightly different direction. Sometimes, I’ll think of something new to add, or change midway through the piece, which never occurred to me in the beginning. I think this is generally how I work. I am not necessarily looking at a person or photo, but work mainly from my imagination, envisioning who and what and how I want something portrayed.
While the “realist” in me portrays exactly what can be observed in front of me, the “expressionist” in me portrays almost nothing of reality, but what my feelings say is reality. I actually try to combine the two. You could say that I paint in an Expressive-Realist manner. I try to be realistic, but often times the images come out looking more expressionistic than the former. A painting professor once said that if you paint a figure, try to portray them either one of two ways, very realistically or very exaggerated. If you are close, but just slightly off, people will notice that and just think you can’t paint! I think I’m somewhere in the middle!
(Show in photograph: left – Death, right – Old Age.)