Don’t we all want to improve as creatives? One of the many reasons I love about being an artist is that there is always something to learn and to improve upon. As a life-long-learner it revs my engine. Is this true for you as well?
This post was inspired by listening to a recent Nicholas Wilton video https://www.art2life.com/2019/08/18/where-are-you-looking/ It sparked me to start thinking about my practice as an artist. He begins by asking if we are wanting to improve upon or up-level our art. If so, where do we look to determine how to make these improvements?
There is a logical tendency to look at the end product for answers. After all, critiques are a common occurrence in our profession and they usually happen when a painting is completed. However, Wilton suggests that we look at the beginning of our creative process. I had never thought of this, have you? It’s a great question.
I am in the beginning of exploring my answers, so I don’t have a lot to share at this time. However, here are some thoughts I am pondering to better understand my practice:
- Do I spend enough time with my artistic muse and consider it a relationship to nurture more intentionally?
- What is the best time of day for me to create?
- Do I write down some thoughts/inspirations before I begin a painting or even continue with a piece? For more representational painters, do you also sketch a thumbnail and/or value study?
- How do I want to feel about the work during the process as well as at the end? This is a different question from how do I want my viewers to feel. Interesting difference.
- When do I title a painting? Is it better to do it at the beginning, during or the end?
- What could I use — music, memories, smells, photos — to bring up strong emotions?
- Where in the process do I loose energy or get bogged down? Why?
I do know this about my practice:
- Every panel or canvas is gessoed with three layers to create a subtle texture. I do not like smooth or mechanical surfaces.
- I do determine the color scheme before dipping my brush into any paint. I discuss this in an older blog post when I was painting more realistically, and be viewed here: Choosing Color Schemes for My Paintings
- I am not consistent about a beginning ritual and I think this would be a good addition. Meditation is also something I have thought about doing when I walk into my studio.
- I like having my paints, water, paper towels, palette, etc., arranged in a certain way before I begin.
- I prefer a quiet environment and benefit from living in a forest which I can see out my windows.
- Sometimes I am inspired by an image, an event, an emotion, but other times I wait until I make a real connection with a painting before I know where it will take me. I want to start doing my writing about my work before, during and after.
- I am always cognizant of my “Why.” For many years, no matter my style, subject matter or medium, I have been driven to create depth in my work with color harmony and intrigue. I want the viewer to ask questions of themselves and/or for their imagination to be sparked. Do you know your “Why?”
Take some time to think about your practice. Discovering your best method or approach may take time. Try out some different ideas. Ask fellow painters what they do. Are there things you might benefit from changing?
Nicholas Wilton strongly suggests that we will make more significant strides if we step back and review the beginning of our process, not just the end.
I love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to share this post with others using the buttons below.
Colorfully and gratefully yours,
PS I recommend that you listen to Nicholas Wilton’s video and perhaps sign up for his weekly messages.