When people see my abstract paintings, one of the common questions they ask is ‘how do you know what you’re going to do?’, and all I can say is ‘I don’t!’
I look at other paintings, pieces of art, the world around me in general, and I am always seeing compositions or juxtapositions that ‘work’ in my mind. Sometimes I’ll take a screenshot or a photo of it thinking I can refer back to it as a source of inspiration when I do my next painting, but invariably I never do. I wonder if the shapes and images I admire do leave an impression in my mind though and subconsciously I might draw on them (excuse the pun) for ideas… I can understand if somebody viewing my finished paintings might find it difficult to comprehend how I even know where to start: what colours to use, what random shapes or marks to make, when to declare it ‘finished’.
All I can say is, for me, it’s like a sixth sense. I’m embracing my intuition in all manner of ways across all aspects of my life – but particularly in my art this year. I can literally be sat in front of a blank canvas with no idea in my head of what I want to see on it. I’m enjoying the trial and error, because it goes hand in hand with a journey of discovery, and THAT is what I really enjoy.
I’ve gone from being a life-long perfectionist in practically everything I dare put my name to, to pushing myself beyond my comfort zones and realising that THAT’S where the real perfection is! It is the most liberating process, and one that spills over into the rest of my life, allowing me to enjoy the invariable ups and downs that come my way, because I have faith in my intuition. If I’m working on a piece of art and think it’s looking a bit messy or I’ve perhaps ‘lost’ the good parts that had appeared, I trust the process and keep going. It might be that it’s gone too far to bring back and I’ll be as well to paint over it and ‘start again’, but that in itself is fine because the history of the previous layers are what will end up making the finished piece a success.
As for colours – I look in my tub of paints and choose the one(s) that stand out to me at that particular time.
Shapes and lines – I can scribble randomly, use my dominant or non-dominant hand, shut my eyes, turn the page or canvas round at random intervals before continuing.
If I see a part that I like, I might pay a bit more attention to it to emphasise it with colours or texture.
I love the layers. I love to look at a picture time and time again and see something new each time. If I have a part of the painting that I really like and don’t want to lose to more layers, I might cover it in a translucent texture medium to ‘preserve’ it a little whilst still being able to build up the rest of the piece around it.
And finally (although I could go on and on), to reach the elusive finish line, I need to look at the painting and ‘feel’ that it is balanced. Once it is balanced, to me, it is finished. I don’t mean balanced in terms of the use of symmetry; it is probably the hardest thing for me to explain actually. Perhaps this is my seventh sense?!
Once I feel (and it is almost a tangible feeling, as opposed to a thought) that the composition as a whole is balanced, (whether that is busy space vs empty space, curves vs geometric lines, colours, textures, really anything and everything), then I feel happy to step back and move on to a new one.
Occasionally I leave it for a while, not fully confident that I’m happy with it. I might go back and work on it a bit more at a later date with fresh eyes, and sometimes it can completely change or other times it can be a small addition of a few smudges or lines here and there.
I’m starting to post more images of the works in progress as I find the various stages of a painting as interesting and enjoyable (if not more so) than the final piece.
Reading back through this post, I think it sounds suitably vague and therefore accurately describes my thought processes through the evolution of my work!