“Painting is a kind of call and response. During the act of painting one is listening, paying attention to a self, a voice simultaneously recognizable and foreign.” -Squeak Carnwath
I have had no formal training in painting. None. It’s odd because when I was learning about how to work with clay, I took dozens of workshops from some really amazing clay artists. But with painting, I like finding my own way. I really enjoy just seeing what works and I’m afraid of a teacher telling me I’m doing it all wrong and ‘correct’ my methods and style. So when I describe process, it’s my process.
First I gesso – one coat on a birch panel. When that dries, I start just putting on paint without much thought to what I want the finished painting to be. Layer after layer, reacting to each layer and building the next layer from what I see on each layer.
When I am happy with the underpainting, I use Stabilo charcoal pencils to draw in my story – the figures, buildings and whatever landscape the underpainting seems to be giving me. At this point I prefer to walk away for awhile and come back with fresh eyes. The charcoal pencil is fully removable, so I can change my mind and quite often I do.
Below is a series of photos of a painting I started this week. It’s in no way complete. During this phase, I fall in and out of love with the painting many times. In fact as I continue to paint, I know I’m finished when I finally like it again. This painting’s working title is ‘The Town’s Minstrels.’
At first the charcoal drawings. These are all on one 24×24 birch panel – just little snippets of the beginnings of a painting.
Then I start to add color:
How do you work? Too bad we don’t all live closer together and could meet once a month to talk about our working styles, our favorite paints, artists, books . . . .
“The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.” -David Rakoff