Sometimes people like to ask me why I like painting. It is my least favorite thing ever.
This will sound weird, but that question is sort of like asking a mother why they like their child. Which, depending on the child, might not be an unreasonable question. But there is never a good answer. I will say, however, there is a phase of the painting process that I always love the most. And weirdly enough, it is related to my mother.
Didn’t realize that until I typed that out just now. WEIRDNESS!!!
I call this the plaid stage.
Usually comes in at layer two. It’s the underpainting to the underpainting. More than likely, 95% of it will get painted over with something else. Every one of my acrylic works starts out like this – a big mangled grid work of color and drips…no agenda, no plan, no intention…just joyful energy.
This will sound a little woowoo, but I think it’s the painter’s job to ground each piece in good energy. And if not good energy, then at least *meaningful* energy. Sometimes I need to get my angry energy out in the art, but I won’t sell it. Doesn’t seem ethical to me.
For one thing, assuming it sells, I don’t want folks to pay money to live with my bad juju (or worse – boring juju!!). For another thing, even if I mess up the final layers of the painting (which happens a lot) I want you to still feel the positive energy of the under layers peeping up, and that offsets some of the more technical/rendering failures I might get hung up on otherwise.
I call it the plaid stage because there is a sort of tartan look with cross-crossing lines, but also because my mother never left the house without wearing something plaid, and it’s sort of a hat tip to her. Every piece that leaves me has a little piece of her in it. Sometimes it peeps through in a big way, sometimes small. You would never look at the piece above “General Nelson’s Confetti Lapel” and get the impression it was underpinned with plaid, but there it is, clear as day.
Here is another one where you can see it peeping through in the leaves…
The plaid stage is the fun stage. A lot of times I spin the canvas as the painting progresses so I get maximum drip mark juiciness.
It’s not about looking pretty, it’s about looking interesting. I would soooooooo much rather be interesting than pretty. This piece above looks a mess right here, but soon enough, the flowers started popping through…
There is a famous quote from Michelangelo that has always stuck in my head;
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
That’s sort of how I see the flowers – they are always there, it’s just a matter of knowing how to see them. I make it my job to see flowers in anything. Anything. I practice flower scouting daily. In everything from paint to concrete to cracks in the ceiling. You can see joy in anything, it’s a matter of perspective. If that sounds like something I ripped out of Anne of Green Gables that’s because I did.
Tangent 1: HAVE YOU GUYS SEEN THE NEW ANNE WITH AN E SERIES ON NETFLIX? #sogood
Tangent 2: Shape finding is a really good game for distracting small children (and let’s face it, big children / adults too). Need not be restricted to clouds and such. Learning to see artifacts of visual delight in every day objects is a pretty rad skill.
Then, if you want to get real meta about it, when you look back in closely…they really don’t look like flowers at all…
Every inch has its own story to tell.
I wish you could see the texture on this one – I think that’s my favorite part of all. You’re not really supposed to run your fingers over artwork, but I can
tell you first hand guess this would be a fun one for finger running.
PS: If you are local, you can see it in person at Stumble & Relish (if that sounds familiar it’s because I wrote about them and their trees a couple years ago – check them out!).