Keep It Simple

Easier said than done! So much of painting is being able to see it simply, then paint it simply. Whenever we get mired in the …

Easier said than done! So much of painting is being able to see it simply, then paint it simply. Whenever we get mired in the thick of it, going back to the simplest solution seems the way to head. But painting is complex, which by the way is the beauty of it; the mix of boldness and nuance, intensity and subtly. This is what is most attractive and challenging about the activity. So, how do we tease out the important bits, get them down and succinctly
Making anything simple is an art in itself. I am easily overwhelmed by tasks, and tend to make things harder than they need to be. This even extends to my studio set-up. For years I had the table that my pastel palette rests on, pushed against the wall making it two long steps from my easel. Finally the day came when it dawned on my that it would be infinitesimally easier if I just pulled the table towards the easel! We fall into routine and habit that could be making things harder, not easier. Challenging these habits is a good thing. I try to remember that I want to make poems, not novels.
The same goes for the painting process. Are there habits and biases that are making things harder? Ideas, like ‘it’s not ok to use black’ or ‘you should always start with the darkest darks’ or ‘you should work top to bottom in pastel’. You have to figure out what makes it simple for YOU. Adopting another artist’s method without really checking out whether this is for you is folly. Trying new stuff on for size, sure, but don’t do it blindly.

_MG_0237 . stoola
Even starting can get you down. Choosing from the myriad of materials available then amassing them, deciding what to paint, especially if you have lots of ideas and then carving out time to get going.
For me, I try to make sure I know why I am painting something, first and foremost. Is it the color, gesture, mood that has me enchanted? What do I want to say with the work? Then I can always point back to that simple idea when I get stuck. When breaking down the components of a painting, I start with the biggest and easiest shapes and block those in quickly. Simple to complex. This way I get to see how the whole is working really fast and I build on what is working. I try not to get stuck on what isn’t resolved yet. I can work on something a long time and get that done eventually. I can also paint over something multiple times, so getting it right the first time isn’t my primary objective.
Holding the idea that something is hard to do, sets you up for procrastination and avoidance of it. Better to dive in and figure it out than not do it at all. Just keep painting. Believe it is simple, see it simple. KEEP IT SIMPLE!!! SO SIMPLE!!!
Happy, happy painting!!!

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