In the past, my paintings started on pristine, smooth surfaces and the final work was relatively flat. But you’ve seen my recent work, there’s background layers peeking through and tons of texture. It took learning a new painting style/mindset to realize the old way was holding me back.
I was starting each work with a somewhat classical approach – toning the canvas, sketching out the intended subject, then painting in the rest. Midway through an acrylic painting, I would often find myself stuck or bored, wishing to make a bold change, but worried the uneven surface would give away my edits. So I began attending various workshops and experimenting with different styles, hoping learn a method that would be structured but more flexible. The epiphany came during an intuitive painting workshop taught by Heather Gerni. It was fun and liberating to start a painting with various techniques for adding color and texture, but without worrying about the final outcome (that came later). Now it wouldn’t matter if there was a bold change done midway, it would just add to the great texture!
Outside of the workshop setting, I attempted the techniques again, started paintings with random colors, interesting textures and a whole lot of chaos, but I found myself stuck again. The fun new approach just seemed to clash with the path I had followed for so many years. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet, there was something about it that just clicked, so I kept practicing, and practicing, and practicing! It took many months but eventually my own process started to evolve and incorporate techniques from both.
The painting pictured below began with a chaos layer dominated by warm orange hues. Additional layers with patterns and textures were added, but I was still trying to figure out what it could turn into. Then the idea of a lotus flower emerging from the muddy water got stuck in my head, so I did a few quick sketches and picked one to start with. One thing led to another, and after a couple of months “Reawakening” was finished!
“There is mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus”-Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk