Six Stages of Making a Painting

6 Stages of Making a Painting

I’m sure all artists work differently, but I have discovered that I go through 6 stages and some of it’s grief.

1. I see an idea in my head.

This is mysterious, even to me, but I think if artists have a gift, a talent, it is this ability to see. We can’t take any credit for a gift. Skill is something else; like playing the violin, it takes many thousands of hours and a driving desire to get that strange idea into a form that communicates to others.

2. I work out the sketch in Photoshop.

On the computer, I can move stuff around, delete some things, adjust the brightness and contrast, etc. I sometimes spend two days on composition, color balance and all those skill things.

3. I find something to put it on;

a canvas, or a board or something. I prep the something.

With gesso? Nope, gesso is just acrylic paint with talcum powder. I’m too cheap/broke for that. I just use acrylic paint with talcum powder.

4. I paint the idea-FAST

looking at my Photoshop study, adjusting the screw ups. I figure an artist’s job is to cover a surface with paint, right? I start right out slopping it on. I know I will slop many layers over that first one, but the canvas is covered with something the first day.

5. I refine the slopped on colors

working from the most distant stuff forward. I only use 5 colors, black, white, red, yellow and blue. I mix what I need from these. Now and then I use magenta to get a nice purple, or slap green (I made up that name, it’s GREEN Green.)

6. I diddle with it for several days.

It isn’t working. Arrrgh. What was I thinking? This sucks.

Take a break. Oh! Now I see what’s wrong. Lather, rinse, repeat for a few days. This is the grief stage, I frequently glance at the trash bin. Maybe it was just a bad idea. I take a photo. For some reason I can see what’s wrong in a photo…but there’s always something wrong. So be encouraged and press on.

This one, “Roots on Dunes” is about wanting to get somewhere, but there is an obstacle. I want to get to the beach, but there’s this gnarly root between me and the path. And it looks like rain clouds are forming. It’s overcast, none of those nice sharp shadows you often see on the beach. But I can see a path to the water. This can be done.

“Roots” is not finished, but it’s past the dumpster stage. The rest is tickling up.

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