Last Friday I spent the whole day and evening painting in my studio and managed to complete this piece above. I started this painting back in January I think it was and I’ve been really keen to finish it. Over the months I’ve only had snippets of time to dabble here and there. Being a large and busy painting it really needed solid chunks of time. I prefer larger blocks of time as I can then really get my head into a piece and start to push it more in the direction it wants to go. Sometimes when I’m just painting an hour or two here and there I find I get lost in the motion of putting paint to canvas rather than considering the composition and direction of a piece.
Above shows the early beginning of this painting. I’m a few layers in and starting to highlight areas that I like and want to retain and not paint over. I’m also starting to think about imagery for the piece.
When I’ve put a lot of work into the back ground layers it’s sometimes hard to work out what parts I want to keep and what areas I’d be happy to paint over and re-work. So to pull myself away from the emotional involvement in my paintings, I begin to look at the composition and structure of the piece and break it down into elements of colour, structure, imagery, composition, tone and balance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and it’s just a wild ride to the end (o”
When painting intuitively it’s easy to get completely lost in the process rather than perhaps stepping back to see what’s actually happening. I often have to remind myself to step back and pull my head away from the small detail and actually have a good look at the larger picture and composition.
Above is a photo of the painting maybe about half way through. Michael kept saying “it’s finished, you’re done, don’t you dare paint over it anymore”. I was of the opinion there was a lot of refining to do. I’ve started to block out areas of colour above, and have highlighted areas to keep with more imagery. Sometimes imagery and areas can take on a different appearance when you step back from a painting. Such as what I intended to be pods in the top right hand corner, which from a broader perspective appear more as dangling duck feet!
What I also love about intuitive painting is the wonderful images that pop up in a painting all on their own. They weren’t thought up, outlined or constructed in a formal manner but have come about through the many layers and meanderings of your paint brush or in my case my fingers. This cool dude had appeared quite early in the piece but he wasn’t noticed completely until I started really re-working the colour blocks in this part of the painting. When I first saw him I didn’t know whether to paint over him or not as he really had no relation to the gum nuts and gum leaves!! But, he was there for a reason and I kind of liked him. All I did to make him pop, was go over the colours that were already forming him, and there he was he became. He was now staying for sure. I love the way he is gazing up into the foliage.
Some areas initially outlined often don’t work either. Above I had quite a large gum leaf hanging down on the left but I painted over half of it because it didn’t work being that close to the gum nut which I wanted to keep. I still wasn’t quite sure about the whole composition and theme at this stage. It’s funny actually because as I had just spent time focusing on the cool dude that appeared at the bottom of the painting, and as he was such a strong character, I began to think all the native foliage imagery in this piece was a bit lame. I could easily have changed the whole look of this painting at this point. I just wasn’t sure the gum nuts were working as well as they could. It was all still a little disjointed at this point.
I’m laughing to myself again, as these balloons that I painted very early on were also bugging me. They were not the right scale to be floating up through the sky in the background and I didn’t want to bother with re-working. If I reduced their scale I felt there would need to be more. However, as I’d painted in the background I couldn’t simply create more of these detailed, patterned balloons. So what to do with the balloons?? I didn’t know, so I asked Michael. His response, “they’re staying, you can’t paint over them”. I said, “but they don’t work with the rest of it”. Michael said “but they look great”. So the balloons stayed as I couldn’t decide and really didn’t want to paint over them. I know they don’t really relate but sometimes you just like elements and that’s a good enough reason to keep them.
My favourite part of painting is the colour combinations and the little elements that appear before you on their own. Such as above, the beautiful wafting pink heart in the background. A dribble of paint that I could have easily blended in and smoothed off with my fingers but I liked it as it was. I must get around to taking images of the smaller elements in my larger paintings and making them into a range of cards.
Here is the painting as it is now, I think complete. I added some gold and silver decoration to this painting to finish it off. The gum nuts that weren’t quite right became flowering gum nuts and the beautiful depth of the deep green leaf to the left was given a subtle gold outline to bring it forward from the deep red and bronze background block of colour as it was just blending in too much. I’ve propped it up in our living room for the time being, so that I can take it in and watch it over time. I do this with all of my paintings to make sure I’m happy with them before I seal them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post depicting the progression of my latest painting. Can’t wait to get back into the studio now. I’ve blocked out Friday to paint, so fingers crossed nothing else pops up.