I used to just dive into a painting. I’m talking about bigger paintings. I’d have a few sketches and ideas but I’d just start laying on the paint and hope for the best. I’d always reconsider things too late in the game and think that I should have had a more solid plan. As time passed, I started making more and more complex drawings beforehand, preceding the painting with loads of conceptual work. Then I gave more and more thought to how the colors would interact and what the best way to approach it would be – do I put a background on first or start with pure white canvas and just lay the colors down or do I do a monotone painting on the white canvas and then proceed to glazing?
There’s so many different techniques and approaches to creating a painting but, ultimately, what is important is the final outcome and the feeling you want to evoke. The texture and grain of the canvas are as important as the colors. The background is going to set the whole mood. And if you decide to go with gradual glazings then you have a whole other set of variables to consider.
But before any of that – there is simply the creative process itself. All the technique in the world isn’t going to make a GREAT painting. It will make a very good and technically proficient painting but GREAT paintings are born out of something more. There are museums full of very good paintings. But GREAT paintings… they are born from inspiration and dedication and openness to the process. The trick to making a great painting is using the tools of awareness to follow the subtler aspects of our perception and our movements and momentum as artists towards their sublimely inspiring peaks.
So head to your sketchbook and be furious about it. Be passionate. And be patient.
When you have reached that place – when you have that drawing – whether sketched with intentional intensity or simply as an offhand remark that turns out to carry the weight of the world – when you have it and are happy with it – then turn to the canvas and consider… what is the best process to turn this drawing into a painting? What does it need? What does it want?
Look at other paintings by other artists. Don’t be cloistered about your approach. Look at ALL artists. Consider ALL approaches. EVERYTHING is valid but don’t get lost in possibilities. Eventually – you need to get started.
So do it. Make it. Make beautiful art.