Variety is the spice of life they say and it’s true that change can be very good for us.
I’ve spent many months working with oil and cold wax and still have so much to learn about it. However, I’ve found myself approaching things with something of a routine which I’ve just become aware of and made me feel a little bored. It’s very important to take notice of your feelings when you’re painting – if you’re happy and enjoying what you’re doing it will show in your work and resonate with your viewers. Feel bored or dislike your process, and that too will show up and needs to be avoided at all costs.
Out came the acrylics – it’s easier to be more spontaneous with these because of the fast drying time – and I spent a few days painting with them but it didn’t feel different enough and I realised I needed to do something else.
I took a complete break from painting and made my own sketchbook using simple book-binding techniques and water colour paper which I later gessoed. Very satisfying except I loved my home-made sketch book so much I didn’t want to spoil the pages by using them! So, my first task was to grab some pens and pencils and scribble randomly over all the pages so all feelings of being precious were laid to rest!
The next thing I did was to gather my acrylics, plus inks, all kinds of coloured pencils, pastels, pens, collage papers, stencils and odd textiles and an assortment of tools from brushes to old credit cards and rollers. Only keeping values in mind, I set to work on a double-page spread with the idea of seeing how much colour I could get away with and still call my image ‘white’. White has fascinated me for some time now; cool, warm, dirty, pristine, exclusive or mixed but I haven’t motivated myself to do anything about it so this was a great opportunity to have a go and in the process use some new materials, or ones I haven’t used in ages. This reinvigorates your practice and gives you new ideas to return with to the easel. Mark-making is so important and using a variety of tools and brushes adds so much interest and takes you on some very interesting journeys. It can give you some great ideas to utilise in your regular work, necessary if you want to keep it fresh and alive. My take aways have been to make much more use of collage in my oil and wax paintings as they are great for building up layers and textures, as well as respond to, and to include stencilling as well.
Humans are, by nature, creatures of habit, but it can make us stale and unadventurous and so too, our work. Always take stock of how you are feeling as you work, as that’s a great indicator of whether or not you should be changing your processes or taking a break for a while in order to return re-stimulated which, in turn, will be reproduced in your work. It’s very much like being fed up and taking a holiday and returning home fresh and revitalised.
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