Saturday, August 8, 2009

Painting -101

-101. I say this number with a negative, because much of painting can begin in the artist's head before a canvas is primed or a brush is even picked up. Many artists have what I call "fear of the white." By this, I mean a paralysis that can overcome the artist upon having a new, fresh, clean, white surface to work with. They fear making mistakes. They might ask themselves, "What if it turns out wrong?" In this short essay, I will detail what I do and why I NEVER fear the white. Make friends with the unknown.

I have never feared the white. It doesn't intimidate me, because I know there is a painting (or drawing, if it's paper) just waiting to come out of the surface. My methods might sound far out to many of you, but it's what works for me, and if even one person who reads this never fears the white again because they try my method, then this post is very worthwhile. This technique is primarily used for any imaginary, abstract, surreal, non-classical type of painting, but I have also consistently applied it with realism, i.e. life drawing, with much success.

Before you even begin to look at brushes or colors, pick up your canvas and put it on your easel or table, whatever work surface you have. Humor me, and try this. Place your non-dominant hand on the canvas (for most of you, this will be your left hand). Close your eyes. Move your hand around in a circular motion, perhaps a figure 8, whatever feels comfortable to you. At some point, your hand will naturally stop. Before you open your eyes, remember that feeling! Capture that defining calm and make it part of you. Every canvas you do will have a different location like this. Open your eyes, remember the spot, and go mix your colors. When you're mixing, remember that feeling you had when you stopped on your canvas. If this method doesn't work, try to paint or color your surface a different hue based upon the dominant background color of your work, and make it uniform.

If you don't want to burn a canvas or make an error, simply try this exercise with a piece of paper and any instrument you choose (pencil, pen, paints). Free yourself, play around and have fun. That's what art is all about anyways; enjoy your passion and don't let fear of the white mess with your joy!