Creating the Painting

Almost daily, I sketch, or paint, in acrylic and watercolor. My art is an expression of relationships. This is a broad description, yes, but it encompasses elemental design issues as well as the content of my paintings. I like to show the way light and shadow work (and play) with each other, how contrasts can achieve harmony. Lately, I’ve been more focused on painting people, a subject often more interesting than my hundreds of landscape paintings.

I often pull out my old paintings, place them on the easel and try to wring out, from superfluous lines and details that had previously diverted me–my focal point. I’ll even turn it upside down to view its shapes and values. I’ll place L-shapes to crop a painting to the best possible image, even it’s the size of an index card. If it’s just too far-gone, I’ll re-cycle it into a collage, or at least, into the old “collage box.”

Sometimes, I gesso over a painting and start all over, with acrylic. This kind of “media-cross-training” keeps me from stopping too long to make academic decisions. Painting, for me, is such a great process of truly teaching myself, making mistakes, re-doing, and working out possibilities.

How do I know when the painting’s done? That’s what my students will ask, and I still can’t provide a “pat” answer. It’s subjective; it’s in my gut. I just know when it’s done. Ultimately, my question to myself is: “Have I accomplished my goal? Does it express the relationships or feelings I sought to objectify? (From Vassily Kandsinsky, ‘The Spiritual in Art’)” This helps me finally put the work to bed.

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