Many people wonder how artists get their ideas.
I start by thinking of a color or set of colors that I want to use, The other day for instance I saw a purple-blue on a hydrangea that I passed while walking my dog that I can't stop thinking about and will have to paint with very soon. But, beyond that my starts are very intuitive. I mix my color or colors and then try to fill my canvas up very quickly without too much thought.
Then the work begins.
I look at my initial start with these kinds of questions going through my head, "Where does it feel too busy?" "What can I add to that part to make it feel more lively?" "How can I repeat this color to help the viewer's eye travel?" "How can I create a feeling of richness and a variety of textures and depths?"
But, as I work on a piece over the course of a day or days, it sometimes starts to get hard to see just what it needs.
There are different tricks that I use to help jog my brain into seeing a piece with fresh eyes. Two that I often use are rotating my canvas or snapping a photo on my phone.
When a painting needs something and these tricks don't help me to figure it out, I either leave it for a while, sometimes coming back to a piece the next day or the next month is just the ticket. Or, I choose to do something really bold.
The piece above, "Glowing" got the bold treatment. It looked completely different when I began it, but it just wasn't working, mostly because it was too busy. I mixed up a batch of joyful orange paint and went over much of what was there. The under layer helped create a richness that the orange would not have had if it had been the first layer. And, the orange helped to unify the piece. It is to this day one of my favorite paintings.
Curious to see how busy it looked when I first began? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me that you would like to see the before and after, and I will send you the images. You won't believe the difference!
How I Begin a Painting
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