Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Painting for the Trash Can

I read a great piece by Jean Haines recently about painting for the bin.   At the beginning and end of every studio day, she pulls out a scrap piece of paper and just plays.   She knows it's going in the trash anyway, so she feels free to risk it all and just put the paint and water on the paper.   No pressure.

I feel a lot of pressure.   Pressure not to waste time.  Not to waste supplies.  Not to suck.  Pressure to make Great Art.   To make Frame-able Art.  To make Sell-able Art.  Blah, blah, blah. So I was really glad to read that article on painting for the trash can.

And I went out to the studio and pulled out a good piece of paper and just played. I started in one corner and I tried some  new things.   The first one was Awful. [Owl]  The next one not so bad.  [Rose a la Jean Haines].  The next one really cool [Abstract in wild and crazy colors].  The last one was a quasi landscape - my first love is landscapes - with a lot of wet on wet practice.  

I looked at the last one and pulled out a new piece of paper and a big brush that I almost never use - 1" flat.  It's like painting with a wrench.  I had been thinking about the color around here this time of year.  Lots of black eyed susans, iron weed, blue mist flower, and grass, grass, grass.  Lots of clouds in our skies.  Lots of trees because hello this is Indiana.

I started with foreground and painted a field, wet in wet with all the colors I see.  I didn't worry about it being good, I just played with the color and the water.

Then I did the sky.  I love painting clouds.  We've been really looking at clouds this year, noticing how most of the time they look pretty fake.  If I painted clouds that looked like that, people would tell me I need to practice a lot more.  Often lately, someone in the family will message me a pic - Look at these fake clouds!  It's fun.  And it reminds me just to Go For It.    Keep it WET.  Leave some WHITE.  Define later with 2 or 3 more colors.

And then I realized that the sky did not touch the field.   It needed trees.   My heart knew it so it told my brain and my hand to leave some space for it.

My one goal was to make a really interesting tree line, because I've gotten so good at simplifying the shapes that my tree lines are boooring.    And I wanted to keep using that 1" flat because I knew it would be hard to make 'good' trees, which meant I'd have to be creative.

I mixed up a bunch of greens and took a deep breath and dove on in.   And what came out was a really interesting tree line.

In the end this was a very satisfying session because my brain was engaged, but not constrained.  There was low risk and high creativity.   I have enough stuff in my bag of technique tricks that I didn't get really frustrated or stalled.   It was loose without being too abstract.  I looks like a field and trees and sky.  It was fun.   It feels like my voice, finally.   I don't know that I've 'found my style', but I did sing my own song with this one.  It'll be interesting to see if I can catch that flow again soon.


  1. Such a talented lady. Your work is beautiful!

    1. That's a very nice compliment! I'm working hard to take my work to the next level. I'm learning a lot and it's keeping me off the streets.


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