This week's blog post was written by painter Jennie O'Connor.
Today, I thought I would write about getting a new painting started. Before putting brush to paper or canvas, many artists have a plan, they have made many decisions, including what they are going to paint. For instance, they may have a photo or an outdoor scene they want to paint by perhaps starting with several thumbnail sketches, working out the design, values, shapes, and color choices, etc. That, however, is not how I work. Sometimes I wonder if I might be in the minority but probably not. First, I create chaos and then I must create order by making a painting that appeals to the senses.
This brings up something I should explain. Almost all of my paintings begin with an underpainting or start (see above); which means I have applied paint and texture covering the whole canvas. The planning for me begins when it comes to creating a painting over this underpainting. I should also mention that I have an immense number of starts in my studio just waiting for the muse to strike. Really what I decide to paint over the underpainting is determined by how it has turned out. In fact I sort of wait for the underpainting/start to speak to me. Yes I know, I’m a bit crazy. It may take weeks or even months of studying a piece before it speaks to me
Below is a completed painting resulting from the above underpainting.
In my process, every painting begins with color. It’s kind of like getting dressed in the morning and deciding what I will wear by first choosing the color I want to wear and then looking in the closet and picking an outfit that fits with my color mood.
Now that’s an interesting phrase, “color mood”. What the heck is that? I just made it up but I’m pretty I’m sure it isn't anything new. I sort of like the sound of “Color Mood”!
So anyway, there I am in my studio, staring at a blank canvas or canvases, as the case may be, because I often work on several starts at one time; wondering what the heck I’m going to do. Then about that time I usually start looking at my tubes of color, picking them up, sometimes I open a few, I may even squeeze out a bit of pigment. Once I’ve come up with a color that suites my mood, or color mood if you will, I’m ready to start.
But that brings up another problem: Where on the canvas should I put this color? Should I begin doing a classic design, or do I feel more like just applying the paint loosely around the canvas, adding other colors as I go along. Sometimes, I may just paint the whole surface with one color. I also may choose to add collage papers that I have previously created, or stamp on texture, or even add other texturing material. The thing is, I love texture and color, and it’s so freeing to work without any plan at all, which is what I usually end up doing when I am creating my under-paintings.
Freeing myself up, creating chaos on a blank surface, that’s the fun of it!