Constant focus change

Wax on Wood

Last week I mentioned the absurdity of a health challenged person embarking on time consuming physical tasks such as gathering natural malerials, making paper, prepping and studying new branches of the art tree, and it surprised me that nobody mentioned “productive procrastination” aka Resistance. (dah-dah-DAAAAA)

Because really, it’s exactly what I’m doing. After all I am the champion of painting these colourful random backgrounds and then leaving them for years while deciding how to proceed because I never had a plan. Not having a plan and just slathering colour is a GREAT way to beat performance anxiety if you feel like you can’t get started, it will get you into the groove or at least the studio. Unfortunately, when you come back 2 weeks later after a migraine etc, you’re not really “feeling it” (pout) and it’s so much more fun to begin something else. (especially if you spent your downtime on Pinterest) Otoh you don’t want to keep erasing the same two pieces of board or canvas in all eternity, because you wholeheartedly intend to finish all those wips, obviously. (I do finish paintings actually, but a lot of them are testing ideas and methods and not really for publication. Not that I don’t on occasion publish them anyway…)

Partial background of very large panel. It’s not done, but it does have a title!

And then it’s so easy to pull the “as long as I show up and do something it counts, so how about clearing the table and gessoing ALL the things to make the workspace nice and ready?”-card. Or the “I should totally make it my thing to paint on my own handmade paper, to make it sooper special”-card. That is what I call productive procrastination, you use new and exciting endeavours as an excuse to put difficult projects on hold. Because you’re still working, right? And “each of my hobbies spark the others, right?”

I guess I’m especially disadvantaged here, because even if I lack ideas for halfdone images all the time, I have a supply for 2-3 lifetimes in general. It’s just that they veer off in every possible direction; forget about lining up ducks, my thoughts are gibbons.

Small stamp collection. In a row.

I think I know what I lack, however: Stories. If I had a collection of those, I could always pair them up with a background. I’d like for something to happen in a painting, not just pretty colours arranged in a pleasing combination. I don’t want to try my hand at realism per se, but I’m getting bored with empty landscapes. A suggestion of figures, or an imprint of some sort is what I’m looking for. Does that make sense?

So how do I go about finding and collecting stories, and how would you keep track of them? Write them down? “Fat man walking tiny dog in November”. Or by making a lot of sketches of stuff (but even then, doesn’t the story come first?) Working from photos or real life doesn’t really light my fire unless I see something unusual (which can be turned into a story). I don’t go out much, so I don’t see a whole lot of unusual things.

This week’s supply of stories in three languages to keep me on my toes.

Well, at least I’ve come a ways since I started talking about this years ago, I do actually paint a lot more than I did then. Having my own room in the loft has also helped enormously, and I have a bag of tricks to get me going, so all I really need is more uninterrupted time. And stories.

To begin with I’m taking note of all the recurring themes and keywords which overlap all of my interests to see which ones can be used as a common base, then make a list of activities in each hobby which fit those parameters and perhaps weed out the ones that don’t, for now. And in the way of stories I collect quirky titles and sentences to peruse when I need inspiration.

My table usually looks like this, so I must be doing “things”.

Breaking news: We had a rain storm Saturday evening and my water barrel is completely full. That means I can begin testing for my new plant pigment project. To be used with my handmade papers obviously. I’ll even test them on yarns.


12 thoughts on “Constant focus change

  1. I used to be better at it, seeing imagery. Or should I say useful imagery!

    Having to sit down for many breaks definitely leads to overthinking…. It’s a good thing alcohol doesn’t agree with me or I’d be tempted to have a glass to loosen up!

    Thanks for your input!

  2. Oh, Mel McCuddin! I’ve seen something with him before about his process, love it! I’m not good at seeing “negative space”, it might be worth it as an exercise in tweaking the mind and eye.

    1. It’s not seeing negative space – you’ve seen things in clouds presumably? It’s the exact same thing – you study what’s there in a relaxed way and sooner or later your brain makes associations.

      1. I meant MC, isn’t that how he brings out his characters, by painting around them and covering up the rest? Maybe not exactly working with negative space, I don’t remember the video exactly (didn’t watch any today)

  3. “Partial background of a very large panel” jeg ser en trold med en stor næse der gemmer sig nede i søen, han er ikke særligt bange, men opsat pÃ¥ ikke at blive set.

        1. Hahaha – der mÃ¥ hjertens gerne være trolde i mine billeder, Men nÃ¥r jeg nu har bÃ¥de titel, hemmelig skrift og en tilhørende serie klar, sÃ¥ mÃ¥ den altsÃ¥ finde sig i at blive nede i dammen eller finde et nyt billede som er helt dens eget.

  4. I’d probably begin to elaborate the object itself and not necessarily change the background, at least not erase it like that. But it’s an interesting tool to keep in mind to do just that.

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