How To Be A Messy Painter

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 in Blog | No Comments

Detail of Work in Progress

I like a certain amount of order and neatness in my environment. I keep my shoes lined up. I straighten paintings hanging in other people’s houses. And I make my teenage daughter put everything back in place which goes against her natural tendency and drives her crazy.

Curiously, while my neighbors were busily raking their leaves this past week and keeping their lawns orderly, I delighted in the display of increasingly gorgeous chaos that greeted me every morning on my front lawn. I even took a photo. My fortnightly gardeners however, were less enthralled.

Lately when viewing paintings, I find myself gravitating towards work that is loose with more of the process visible. I love painterly paintings. Paintings with visible brushstrokes, with quirky details, with different surfaces, textures, levels of control and finish, all within the same painting. Yet I find it so incredible difficult to achieve this in my own work in a way that I am comfortable with. I have small successes at times and a lot of failed moments that get covered over while painting.

I’m not sure if the way I want to paint will ever come naturally to me. Perhaps every painting will be a huge struggle. But I try to pay attention to what I am searching for in each particular piece and keep pushing myself towards that.

Yesterday I had a small success (see top image). Prior to this, I actually had thought the painting was practically finished. But then I realized that while my lines were loose (see below), they were still more controlled than I wanted them to be. I decided I wasn’t happy with the painting so I really had nothing to lose. I was about to wrap up for the day so I quickly glopped on some thick paint, and started pushing it around not thinking too much about the outcome, figuring I would deal with it next time. Suddenly I was a messy, happy painter. Now I just have to sort out the rest of the painting…

Detail of Earlier Version