The Process: The Pain and Reward
Over the years I am starting to see a pattern behind how I approach any creative endeavor called “the process”.
When someone presents me with their own concept for me to paint (or an idea comes to me) it’s like a seed that sits in the back of my mind to germinate. Sometimes, depending what else is going on in life at the time, that is where it stays.
If I decide to keep going with this new work, I begin to saturate my brain with related information and visual references – photographs in books, magazines or Pinterest, taking my own photos, asking for more details from the client (if there is one) or looking at how other painters may have treated similar subject matter.
Throughout the process I use my sketchbook to work out loose gestural compositions. In the beginning I like my surroundings to be really quiet as I try to manifest this new image. I think about the picture when I’m drifting off to sleep and when I’m just getting up. I don’t like to start painting til I feel like I have conjured up an image of it in my mind.
Actually starting the painting can be the hardest part. Often it ends up not looking anything like I planned. Sometimes I make huge changes according to what the painting seems to want, painting over hours or days of work. Throughout this process a myriad of feelings pass by – from totally despising the work and thinking I need to find other employment, to feeling focused and believing this is what I’m meant to do, to being totally ambivalent.
Once the painting is more underway I can start listening to CBC, podcasts or loud music while working. I can tell when I get near completion because the painting starts to take on a life of it’s own, like it has become it’s own entity. People always ask artists, “how do you know when you are finished?” The answer for me is “when there is nothing left to do”. Afterwards, a glutton for punishment, I am ready to start the process again.
Thanks for reading. Push past the pain and keep on creating, Tracy
Image above: Moonshine, acrylic on canvas, 18″ x 24″, was a commission I completed this year for an old friend (for her husband’s 50th bday present). The bus, tree and people playing music around a fire (especially the banjo) were all things she wished to be included. I did several compositional sketches changing the arrangement of these elements. Also painting people requires so much practise and skill, to do it well, you have to be painting and drawing them all the time. I think I repainted one of the faces at least 5 times.