Grabbing the Unexpected Accident
Painting in an Abstract or Non-Objective manner is, for me, a different process than painting a planned landscape or portrait. It requires a willingness to carefully observe and listen well during the painting process, to let go while at the same time tuning in at a more intense level. A mastery of technique is essential, but that is only the beginning baseline. I intend to grab the unexpected accident and turn it into a skilled composition.
“Listen” may seem like the wrong word to apply to visual art yet that is what it feels like [to me] while painting. It is an intuitive activity. The inspiration can come in a flash or take a long time to reveal itself. But [for me] the sense of intuitive observation is heightened while painting this way.
Mark Rothko (1903 to 1970) http://www.nga.gov/feature/rothko/ set the bar for sitting and observing a painting before he would apply another brush stroke. He was famous for sitting and just staring hours on end at his developing painting. Then jump up in a rush to madly apply just the right colors in the right amounts. I’ve caught myself doing a similar albeit more brief routine of staring. It’s a kind of intuitive waiting. Waiting for the accident to be recognized as a link between convention (conditioning) and or deep secrets that need to surface; and working them into the over-all theme….
Step Away From the Painting
I teach an ongoing art class in my home studio/gallery in East Sonora called, “Finding Your Own Visual Voice”. Frequently, I’ll see a student struggling with their painting and I’ll blurt out, “step away from the painting”. And we all chime in with that mantra until someone starts laughing. But it’s necessary. Be still. Listen. Watch. Observe. The painting will tell you what it wants, if you allow it to.
It will tell you the next thing that is required; a little more blue, a darker value, a line here or there. To me it is similar to what I think is the difference between prayer and meditation. In prayer, one might ask for something – in meditation one must just be still and listen.
A bit of contemplative music on, and I am lost. If I am fortunate, I experience magical moments when my outer surroundings drop away and paradoxically I become more in tune with the world through my painting. Or I might put some high energy music on and just let the paint fly. Same process; different tempo.
The paintings become non-linear, non-descriptive and contain very little of recognizable images. They become an exploration of those momentary insights of the intuitive, internal and personal interior landscape.
When painting this way, there will usually come a time during the painting process wh