Starting Over

Starting a new painting can be like starting over. The last two painting that I posted, “Floating Underwater” and “Big Waves” gave me immense satisfaction to complete. I really like them, feel good about the new direction they are pointing to and I’ve been inspired to get started on the next painting. In fact, in my mind, I had developed a whole system of starting new paintings based on my success with these two. Much to my chagrin, the process of starting has all the uncertainty and angst that it always had. Now that I am actually working, I have no idea where I want to go. I am making sketches and small paintings and each interests me in some way but none are the painting I want to do next.

I always seem to rebel against doing what worked in the past, and it pisses me off. For example, my latest successful work was done with thick, opaque paint. So of course I would need to go back and experiment with translucent washes using acrylic and oil paint almost like watercolor.

I just re-listened to a wonderful interview with writer, Nicole Krauss about her creative process. In it she says that once when she was having a hard time starting a new novel, she talked with the seasoned novelist Phillip Roth. He told her to resign herself to the fact that starting a new novel is always hard, it never gets better.  This isn’t a bad thing. In the interview she talks about starting in the dark, not knowing how things are going to come together and the process of discovery.

Nicole Krauss Interview

Here are some of my starts from today and yesterday:

In this sketch I was planning to build up a piece with with and burnt umber but there was something about the lightness of the touch and the way the paint sinks into the paper that made me stop.


Here is the next attempt. I was attracted to same qualities of paint, but I think I will continue with white and go opaque.


Here is a color study using thin washes of oil paint. I almost forgot that there was a theme that emerged from this – fertility. There was a figure resembling an ancient fertility sculpture (it got painted over). Then the colors that emerged made me think of fertile ground, mountain sides planted in tea, lush growth. I’m glad I remembered this!


I think this was influenced by photos of the space shuttle launch.

A swan – what else to say? I find it interesting that the composition is so clean and clear.

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