These days I’m limiting the time I take to make a painting to about 4 days. Before I’d take months to finish a painting and at some point it stopped becoming enjoyable or even beneficial. With shorter length paintings, the painting process gets pared down to the essentials and the spontaneous part of painting is celebrated.
Essentially, I casually pick a subject, spend about an hour composing it and then start painting. A lot of improvisation happens along the way. The composition will gain its strength and balance during the sketching process as I begin to more fully understand the project. Ideas solidify, small impulses merge together, colors harmonize and contrasts come forward. A painting acquires an identity when a character emerges. It’s very fulfilling when that happens and also enigmatic. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, a painting’s character seems to have its own free will and comes or goes as it pleases.
Most of the time painting is an enjoyable process, one in which I’m not fully aware of taking a creative role. It’s quite freeing to feel that I’m just along for the ride. When I get too dictatorial, the work suffers a bit from ideas getting stale, feeling stiff and weighed down with obligation. A painting continues for as long as I can still recognize and grasp for interesting and beautiful things that are within reach.
Oh and of course, being a realist painter, I still want the subject to look like itself, or rather not strip away its essential visual identity and its unique character. So you may wonder where I draw the line between realism and creativity? In my next post, I’ll address that question, talk about realism in painting and being a realist painter. Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment below. See you next time!