Don’t Plan The Ending

Posted by on Jun 4, 2017 in Blog | No Comments

I like to think I’m a good planner. In fact, my excellent planning, research, and organization skills come quite handy in my everyday life. Figuring out my next travel plans (stay tuned), organizing my daughter’s schedule (when she lets me), staying on top of my To-Do Lists (did I mention I’m the Queen of post-it notes?) and overall having a pretty good sense of the big picture plan of my life (except, thankfully, the very end.)

But in my new way of painting, planning just gets decidedly underfoot. I have a lot of different ideas and at some point I’d like to think that I can have a plan again when painting, but lately when I work with a plan in mind it constantly falls short of my expectations. So I change it and change it and change it. With limited time each week to paint it can feel at times like I am wasting time. This is an uncomfortable space for me. But if I just give myself over to the process, new directions emerge, and eventually it pays off when I am excited by the final result, a result that I could never have actually planned in the first place. So even if I start with a plan, the only plan that seems to be working for me currently is “don’t plan the ending” because you never know what will happen along the way.

Below is my most recent painting, Big Pink Cloud, (click on image for larger view) and a little bit about how this painting came to be.

Big Pink Cloud, Acrylic on Canvas, 2017, 40 x 50 inches

After finishing my last painting, Somewhere in the Jungle, I thought I wanted to continue playing with similar lines but placing them horizontally, so the plan for this new painting was a giant pond using the before mentioned lines. I kept working on the lines but eventually wasn’t happy with the surrounding area.

As I continued to work on the surrounding area the “pond” got smaller and smaller until finally it was gone. The painting then went in the direction of a water channel with surrounding landscape. The colors were fairly subtle and I just didn’t know what to do with it. I was listening to a podcast on Mitchell Johnson, an artist who I had just recently discovered on Instagram, and he was talking about the role color plays in his work. I thought I had nothing to lose so I whipped up a bright orange and put it in the landscape. It was way too bright, so I toned it down but it paved a new path as everything then had to react to it. The image below is where it was headed. But then the big green center area had to go, and then the purple blue water disappeared, and finally the foreground area on the right made its exit. The top third of the canvas stayed intact as I was pretty happy with that area and I was left with a lovely huge blue green expansive water below it.

I liked it. But I didn’t love it.

So I did what I so often do. Made a cup of tea and looked. And sipped and turned the painting vertically to the right. And sipped and turned it vertically to the left. And sipped and turned it upside down and that’s when I fell in love. I saw a landscape with a big sky. I played around with the sky, painting white clouds in and out, until deciding that one giant “cloud” is what it needed. And that it absolutely had to be pink.

Earlier version in progress