My painting process: the flow and the rework
I’ve been wrestling some paintings into existence this week and contemplating my process. I’ve come to realise that if I define my paintings by their process of creation, there are two distinct types:
- “flow” paintings, and
The flow paintings are an almost effortless process, they seem to just materialise with little thought or effort and just “work”. They’re the ones that make me think "Yes!!! I’ve finally got this!”
And then...there’s the reworks. These guys are tricky and stubborn. They throw up obstacles, won't cooperate and seem to have no intention of resolving themselves. In short, they're a mess! They're the ones I have to stop and think about, they hurt my head, and often, feeling I have no way further way "in" to the work, they end up sitting in the corner, sometimes for months (or years!).
I’ve been painting for about 13 years now and gotta say these paintings can be seriously discouraging.They’re the ones that (still) make me think “F#%*, I’m terrible at this! I have no idea what I'm doing!” I've given up plenty of times, telling myself "I'm not enjoying this anymore, so why bother." These paintings have the potential to blow out into an artistic existential crisis - and they have!
What's been really helpful for me is to recognise these two different processes and acknowledge the "rework" painting for what it is: still potentially a great painting - in the end - just with added uncertainty and a couple of detours thrown in! My reworks typically have more layers; large areas are painted over, or even sanded back (one reason why I prefer wooden panel over canvas - it can take it). I'm learning to push through those initial obstacles and keep moving forward with them, rather than giving up. Actually, to be honest, I do give up, and put them aside, but then I also make a commitment to come back to them eventually. If anything, it's a good resilience-building exercise for me that I hope might flow into other areas of my life.
The beauty of the reworks is that when they finally decide to cooperate, there is often a richness to them that I can't achieve in the paintings that flow. There is a history in all the layers, intriguing elements that could not be premeditated; chance details that make the painting compelling and unique - plus the reward of a hard won sense of achievement!
Image above: Detail of this week’s major rework in progress! Note the difference from the first image. Layers, layers and more layers. I had a deadline this week and had my fingers crossed for some sweet, sweet flow painting action - it didn't happen.
Your Invitation to an outdoor exhibition
Art to Art are hosting an outdoor exhibition this weekend - weather permitting.
If you're in Melbourne (and needed another incentive to leave the house - now that we can!) do pop in & check out their huge selection of fab original art in person - with a glass of bubbles in hand, of course - that's where I'm gonna be :)
Date: THIS WEEKEND! Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th November
Time: 10.00am to 4.00pm both days
Where: Art to Art Gallery
Address: 130 Bulleen Road, Balwyn North
I have five new artworks in the exhibition - but if you can't make it in person you can view them online.
+ New artwork at Greenhouse Interiors
I have a handful of new pieces now available from Greenhouse Interiors - including the two below - any guesses which is the "flow" and which is the "rework"?