Some time ago…years that is…I decided I needed to be more precise with my painting. More polished. Refined. Hard edged. So I went and bought the biggest canvas I could fit in my car and began painting this:
I enjoyed the colours and the process but not the outcome. It felt stilted and naive. Not quite finessed. So off it went to the garage for a rainy day when I would suddenly know how to fix it!
And guess what? That rainy day came this week. Actually I don’t think it was raining just very cold. But a lovely sunny cold day. And I didn’t suddenly know how to fix it but had an itching to create a big abstract scribbly colourful mess.
The first step was a diluted coat of gesso. It does wonders, you know. Just enough to cover the image but also just enough to provide a background layer for what was to come.
After that I went to town with my favourite Atelier acrylic colours – quinacridone red violet, cobalt turquoise light hue, prussian blue hue and cadmium yellow medium. I started off with an old store card to layer on paint but as I had previously used an impasto paste on the canvas it was not flat. And it made spreading with the store card uneven and difficult. I thought I might use big wide brushes too but they just weren’t immediate enough. So I ended up Twombly style and used my hands. I completely shocked myself as I don’t enjoy getting mess on my hands (I really struggled with clay all through art school). But wow, did I enjoy this. The impasto was a bit spiky on my skin but the result was so immediate and gratifying that I just had to keep going. Hands it was then!
This is as far as I have gotten at the moment. But I am so keen to carry on. The process served as another reminder to be true to myself. My style. My ability. What I like. And what makes me smile. I also think it’s important to do what you can do in the moment you’re in. Sometimes bold abstract is what I can do right now. At other times it will be refined and realistic drawing. And at still others it’s art journalling.
This morning I was looking through my Youtube feed and found a video from an artist called Robert Burridge. He is an abstract painter. He uploaded a clip called Start Abstract painting today. It’s about his practice and the things he reminds himself of as he paints. Among the gems of advice he talks about painting not being perfect. Recognising that painting is not perfect lets me off the hook to paint how I need and want to paint. I need reminding of that all the time!
So watch this space for further developments of this piece…and it’s imperfection! It’s all good. JP