As I was brainstorming about this blog entry, I was thinking about my creative process and the approach that I use when I paint. This idea became even more tangible when I learned earlier today that the team responsible for the National Public Service Week, that is held every June, wants me to hold a potential paint night for the staff in my Branch. This is making it very real!
I paint in an addition to my house that is just off the kitchen. It is not ideal; the lighting is not good and it is not exclusively dedicated to my art. Given how messy I am though, the room soon may not be conducive to anything else!
A little aside - my house was built in 1905 and I have the dream of finishing the attic and putting my studio there. To have a dedicated space that is mine; a creative playroom. There are already two windows there, providing some light but the the challenge comes when trying figure out where to put the stairs. I have a designer lined up to come and help me figure this out, along with my contractor, but naturally, given the public restrictions, everything is on hold. This would certainly be an exciting project but one that would take a good year of planning.
The creative process for me is very intuitive, in that I very seldom have a preconceived idea of what I will paint let alone the colours that I will use. I have had experiences where I have told myself, for example, I really want to have reds in my painting and by the end of the session, all the red has been covered by other colours. So, I start with a palette of colours and see where it takes me.
As I develop my artistic voice, I find that you gain a freedom of expression by bringing down internal barriers. A few years back, many of my paintings were lines with lots of texture. Nowadays, I find that I have broken that mould and tend to bring a richer dimension to my paintings. I love my old paintings though, as they reflect where I was at a very personal level at that time and were a building block to where I am today.
I seldom use brushes when I paint. I am a spatula kind of girl but also I use sponges, my hands, a spray bottle and paper towels. In fact, paper towels are the secret behind my skies. I will have to make a video to show you how I go about it at some point. It is certainly not taught in fine art schools but it leads to interesting results! I also use at times objects and markers on paintings as well.
I never (or extremely seldom) refer to a picture when I paint. I paint what comes to the surface and the related emotions, even when I do abstract landscapes. I have seen so many beautiful sceneries in my life and these are certainly inspiring me, but I access them through my memories as opposed to a picture. I have to admit that of late when I take walks with my dogs, I do spend quite a bit of time looking at the sky and almost taking mental pictures of the clouds and colours. And knock-on wood, I have not fell or ran into anyone yet because of it!
I have a lot of respect for those who are able to reproduce scenes or pictures. It is just not me. My joy is in the journey that I go through to create a piece from nothing. It is challenging at times, frustrating too, but it is also extremely liberating.
I tend to paint at night given that I work full time but ideally, I would say that my preferred time to paint would be in the morning, when I am rested and available. As I mentioned before, I am a messy painter, I cannot paint with regular clothes on and when I do, there is significant scrubbing that happens afterwards! Paint tends to be everywhere, hands, face, walls, and at time hair. Eh, what can you do, you could blame it on old age but for those who saw my office prior to the pandemic, they would surely not be surprised!
Don’t tell my boss this part - when I am working, often enough I will put a painting in front of me and just look at it from time to time during MS team meetings and just see what it is telling me. I try to figure out whether it is finished or what needs to change. Part gut…part science.
So, what could I teach during a paint night? Even after all this, I am not too sure to be honest, besides conveying the point of forgetting about boundaries and just have fun. And the messier, the better!