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Saturday, April 28, 2018

When Painting is a Struggle

'It's a Sign of Spring'               8x10              pastel               ©Karen Margulis
I should have known better. The painting began with a fight. I was using an old piece of Pastelmat paper that had some indentations. As soon as I put down my first layer I could see the marks. Interesting marks but they had nothing to do with my concept for the painting.  I kept going. It was a struggle and it went downhill quickly.

My underpainting layer. You can see the indentation marks on the paper
 I began with an idea for the painting. I wanted to paint the dirt road leading back into the distant trees. It was an early spring landscape but my concept was about the road and not really the hints of spring in my reference photo.  Ultimately  that was the cause of my struggle.

My reference photo and initial drawing. It is all about the road!
The road wouldn't cooperate. It wasn't in a good place. I tried to move it. I didn't like my foliage shapes. They kept growing. I kept cutting them back. I threw everything I had at the painting. It got too busy and the road disappeared. I wiped it off and tried again. The bushes grew again. I was very very close to giving up. I didn't want the painting to win. But that was exactly my problem. I was fighting the painting.

My painting wanted to go in a different direction. I wasn't listening. I was frustrated and I wasn't having fun. And then I had a thought. What if I listened to the painting and let it go where it wanted? This time I let the bushes grow. The painting became about them...the little hint of Spring became a full blown stand of Forsythia in bloom. That is what it wanted to be all along.

"I begin with an idea, but as I work, the picture takes over. Then there is the struggle between the idea I preconceived... and the picture that fights for its own life." George Baselitz

The next time you are in a struggle with a painting. Listen carefully to what it may be telling you. You never know what might happen if you pay attention!

1 comment:

KAO said...

Thank you for making that point! I often forget that the painting itself is part of the process.... it is not all about me ;)