It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been allowing myself to really run away with my thoughts; explore my ideas more fully, read, and experiment with new media. Somewhere, I came across this idea:
This was such a perfect word. To say what can’t be said. So much of my personal work is an attempt to express what seems impossible to say. People often ask me how long it takes me to make a painting, and I struggle to tell them. Sometimes it can be in one sitting, other times it can take weeks.
It’s even difficult to say how I start. Every painting is one big experiment. Recently, I made one for a friend. It was my first commission. He was really interested in hearing around my process. We even had a lengthy discussion about how to hang it. It’s very difficult for me to explain my process, mostly because it’s spontaneous.
I generally start with certain colors in mind, and not much else. My preferred media is oil on board, and I like to use lots and lots of boiled linseed oil mixed with the paint. (Oil paints are ground mineral pigments mixed with a carrier oil, which is usually linseed oil. The oil makes the dusty pigments gel up into paint that can later be put into a tube. Mixing oil with the tubed pigment makes the paint more fluid. There are different ways to process linseed oil, each rendering a different effect when mixed with the paint. I’ve discovered that boiled linseed oil creates this interesting, textured surface. See above.)
I’ll apply a base color to the canvas with a thick consistency. Then I’ll mix other colors and make them more fluid than the base coat. Sometimes, I use a brush and thrash the paint. Other times, I pour the mixture directly onto the surface. (The orange, above, I poured right onto the surface. The dark green color I applied with a brush.)
Then, I step back and look at it. I look at how the paint is moving. I try to see how the colors blend, and how it makes me feel. I noticed that the dark green paint was bleeding out. It wasn’t really staying in the area I wanted it to. Instead, it made these dripping, tentacle-like shapes.
After some time had passed, I decided to edit it. I thought it could be improved. I picked it up on one end, and let the paint drip down to the other side. Then, I repeated on the reverse end. The effect much better; the colors blended so fluidly, it reminded me of seaweed.
But I don’t work on it from strictly one direction. I attack it from all sides. Then, I let it dry. As the oil dries, the values of the colors change. The surface hardens and becomes more textured. It takes shape.
I wasn’t sure which side was up. It’s difficult for me to visualize working that way. Shouldn’t the entire process be more important than the initial concept? I think it’s ok for the composition to change based on the process, as long as the product makes you happy.
It made me so happy to see it framed and hanging, too. I have several paintings that I’ve made in the past 5 months that I’d like to attempt to express in words. It takes a lot of effort to do this, because it’s trying to explain the ineffable,“ the thing that can’t be said. And yet, I’d like to try. That’s what I’d like this new series to be about – explaining how to see beauty in that which you don’t fully understand.