Personally, there are few things that I find to be more calming or beautiful than a clean, blank canvas. I always walk home from the store feeling this sense of urgency and excitement, trying to anticipate what my white slate will eventually look like. But then this excitement is followed by panic and I question everything. I can't do this. What if I mess up? Where do I start? What colour do I start with? I suck at painting. Then if I settle on a colour the questions become, What shade of purple? Should I start light or dark? What colour do I want to transition to? Where do I start? Someone just do this for me! I hate purple! Then finally I will feel so wound up that I just dip my brush in paint and GO. Because we all have to start somewhere. The beauty of paint is that I can always go back and cover up the areas I'm no longer in favour of and make alterations as I move along. Thankfully, nothing is set in stone. And so the panic transforms into something a little more peaceful and, as the incorrigible Elsa says in Disney's Frozen, I just LET IT GO!
I thought I’d document the painting process of a recent painting to show just how different it looks from beginning to end. I attempted to illustrate just how many changes occur before I settle on a final product. Even then, is it ever really done? I’m sure tomorrow I’ll look at it with contempt and feel the urge to white it all out.
With each break between layers of paint my mood seems to be very consistent in that it is never the same when I return. What I felt during that first layer is usually not indicative of how I’ll feel during those final brush strokes. Maybe you can see it? I was feeling (initially) like a phoenix rising from the ashes (as I was coming off of a week of illness) and wanted the painting to reflect that. But, as you can see it kind of went in a different direction with each rest break (nap).
It was an interesting process to reflect on the various steps it takes to reach the end. But what I find to be the most intriguing is how much I didn't document. I tried my best to capture each stage and my shifting feelings, but even then, each pause to take a photograph disrupts the flow of painting and can somewhat inhibit inspiration.
So enjoy your process and when you're really feeling it, don't stop to take a picture. Keep with the momentum because that's when the magic happens.