Saturday, March 24, 2012

Not So Old After All

I should post an addendum to that “Up With the New” post: The rule holds that it’s best to break the rules, even your own. 

I went back to that spot I’d sworn off, and looked at it differently -– as a vertical composition rather than a square one, and taking into account two new trees in powdery white bloom – and produced something I really liked. Or at least that I liked yesterday, and today so far. And I’m not sure I had the elevated, swept-up-in-rapture feeling that I was advocating in that earlier post. It was more like an annoyed frame of mind: I was annoyed that I’d worked so hard the day before and still produced something that looked timid, and annoyed at having done nothing the whole week that I liked.

My feeling was: I’m just going to plow forward, and when I see that I need to backtrack or correct, do it immediately. And that happened almost right away: I laid in a medium tone (for the whole brown/grey hillside) and then realized I needed to go darker in certain areas (for shadows, bushes, trees, etc.), so right away loaded up a brush with dark tones and took those areas back down – loosely. And when I ran into trouble with the trees on the horizon, and their edges, I fussed with them a little, then forced myself to stop fussing and just LOOK, and put down paint to reflect what I was seeing. – WITHOUT looking at the image I was creating, much: just looking and laying down paint. Laid in on top of the work I’d already done, that loose painting worked, finally. 
Early Spring Hillside, © 2012 Julia Sutliff, 12 x 9
Fussy work won’t get you where you want to go, but it can be a good foundation from which to jump.

So I threw out yet another of the very rules I’d been trying to establish.  Painting, unfortunately, seems to work much better on an intuitive level rather than a well-thought-out one.   It’s too bad, since your intuition is not always fully “on.”  As with flexibility – that quality of being light enough on your feet that you can catch yourself at the second you start to stray from a productive, happy line of thought.  But IF you can tap into your intuition and flexibility, good things can happen.
It’s an odd thing how risk can feel at times so counter-productive.  You think:  Can’t mess up!  Must proceed carefully!  And yet if you let go and work loosely, chancily – staying open, playing – you might make decisions/marks that you’ll have to reverse, but you increase your chances of producing something with a spirit of openness and play embodied in it.  Which is an effect I enjoy.  And so many effects I produce I DON’T enjoy.  Now if I could just turn on a switch to create that state of mind.

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