I Don’t Know What Kind of Painter I Want To Be

Posted by on Aug 25, 2017 in Blog | No Comments

Rainbow Mountain painting palette

(And that’s probably a good thing.) Although it doesn’t feel like it when I’m in the thick of it. Needless to say, I’ve had some frustrating moments of late in the studio. My brain is the type of brain that wants to plan ahead and keeps wanting to know the bigger picture. I like to categorize and label things. My brain keeps wanting to jump ahead — “Maybe you should be an abstract painter” “Maybe you should stick with representational painting” “Maybe you should just give up painting.”

I was having a conversation about this last week –when I was in the midst of almost completely painting over the entire area I had been working on for awhile. The response, by someone who knows me well, was “But that’s just you — you are always very black and white, you have always been all or nothing.” I think I have actually gotten much better about this in life, but I am still working on it, and need to bring it into the studio.

Take this large canvas that I am working on for instance. My goal was to take this incredible landscape I just saw and photographed, and use it as inspiration for a big painting. With great enthusiasm I began! I was working on the landscape and keeping it loose and abstract. I know I am looking for something that is not concerned with realism. All was going well. Then I started working on the foreground and I was really liking the abstract quality of it. I was losing myself in the painting process –in a good way–it was fun and I was liking what was happening. But then all of a sudden the background landscape wasn’t looking as good to me. This is when I started thinking…maybe this whole painting should just become completely non-objective abstraction?

But this time it wasn’t a matter of just being bold enough to paint over hours of work. I’ve done that in the past for the benefit of the painting. This time, the big question that loomed was– can I find a way to work the representational and abstract together in a way I want? Is completely painting over the “mountains” the easy way out?

I decided that in this case, it was. I really want to see if I can have it all. Representation and abstraction. Inspiration and imagination. I’m not sure how it will turn out but I am going to stick with it for awhile. Maybe it will fail. Maybe it will work for this painting but then maybe next time I will want to paint completely abstractly. I don’t have to decide what kind of painter I want to be. All I need to do is keep putting one foot in front of another and keep moving forward.

I am just trying to let things be as they are.