Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Exploring Variations: Finding Ideas

Evening in the City 
In the last post, the image, Koi, was painted with a deliberate plan. The painting is for my son and his wife. He asked for something that somehow "went with" a beautiful Japanese image of a large orange Koi fish.  It was  easy to find my inspiration for this piece - colors, layout and size were all "givens."

This painting, though clearly related to the last in style and composition, began with no plan except a desire to play around with a pallette knife. I am currently reading and working through Painting Abstracts, by Rolina Van Vliet, considering the images, techniques and approaches. As a result of what I am learning in the book, I knew I wanted to combine larger areas with smaller ones - but had no vision of where I was going (I hate that.) I started by using the palette knife to lay down a multicolor layer, experimenting with textures, and combining light and dark,colors. Ugly - but an interesting background.

I am still enthralled by the abstract trees I've been painting; I love the outlines and individually defined shapes. Oh, and also, I have a great fat new brush that holds lots of paint and creates wonderful texture. So, using the new brush, and laying colors directly from the tube, I began to paint a pattern of squares. Soon the trees appeared, (good, I thought that was to be the plan) and then they went away.  A city scene appeared ... at least to me.

I so often struggle with knowing what to paint, especially when I am on my own and not in a class. But today's project, in which I did not stop when I hated the results, and just kept on messing around to see what would appear, is a success.

Not because it is beautiful (is it? I can't tell yet, but I know it gives me that good feeling) but because I allowed it take its own shape and I learned in the process. This is the reason I believe it is important to work regularly, and as often as possible, and to work with no particular outcome in mind. I find it so much more difficult now that I am working in the abstract mode - because in my more realistic working past, I always could find a photo to guide me. This is different - a photo can contain some of what I want to appear - but a lot is now needing to be drawn from imagination and abstraction.

What do you think? What is the best way to build skills? What inspires you to just jump in and paint? How do you handle "artist's block?"