Radishes, © 2011 oil (and Sharpie) on canvas
One of the great outcomes of teaching a class called "Expression in Paint" at Artascope Studios in South Portland is discovering what matters most to me in my own painting. What elements are (at least currently, since things do change) so essential to my own way of expressing myself in paint that I neglect them to my peril.
I can't say exactly how this has come about. It's a combination of slowing way, way down in order to watch what I do when I'm "not looking," by which I mean not over-thinking or over-editing myself. When I am trusting myself and whatever mysterious creative force it is that moves us all when we are open to it. That, and actually painting there in the class under different circumstances than at home; I paint a little differently there, and I'm still figuring out just how.
Some of my best (I think) paintings happen when I:
- paint over old paintings (what's underneath provides plenty of opportunities for happy accidents of texture and color combinations and things peeking through from beneath)
- draw quickly over an old painting, either with paint or with black Sharpie marker to get my bearings and leave interesting marks showing through in places
- use more paint (it's easy to get "stingy" with paint) and push it around, either with a palette knife or with a pretty stiff brush.
The Sharpie first entered my repertoire as an ally when I once drew a quick freehand sketch on a yellow-painted wall in my garage, and I found it exhilarating!
I've been a bit timid about admitting my Sharpie use in painting, as if some sort of Painting Orthodoxy Police might get wind of it and, and . . . what? Ban me from the world of "real art?"
It's as if I think my Sharpie usage might disqualify me from some unnamed, desired realm, or immediately confirm my illegitimacy as a painter. (I comfort myself with the thought that if Sharpies had been around in earlier decades, somebody who is now a famous painter--Picasso is usually my go-to guy--would probably have used one. Right? And if not, who cares?)
So here are some radishes painted over an unsuccessful semi-impressionistic attempt at fall foliage from a few years ago.
One other observation: I held myself back from "correcting" myself as I went along. I resisted fixing things up to be more right and proper and "better" (realistic?) according to some left-brain critic. I think that's why it works as well as it does.
These Radishes have already gotten lots of "buzz" from my Facebook supporters (thank you, all!). "Free and beautiful" is one of the comments that's easiest for me to remember and that I will carry with me for the rest of today.