Forced painting

I’m slowly getting back to hands on tasks, and I’m determined to break a barrier or two before the year is over.

It’s funny how I can happily mess about with painting abstract backgrounds / washes forever, and then I get stuck. Or any idea I might have doesn’t work out – probably because I’m so scared to ruin it that I overthink, and then paint over the failure with a new background. It’s quite clear I have a performance anxiety here that I don’t experience with photography, probably because I can’t trust my hands to be able to do what’s in my head, the craftsman part of it. And we all know how that part is achieved!

wip  ruined04 wip2

It mostly happens when I paint without a plan, which is what I’ve been trying out for a while. Just picking a set of colours and see what happens. Of course, it could be that I’m simply not suited for the so called intuitive approach. I do have several complete illustrations in my head, but they don’t even get started apart from some very preliminary sketches or even just descriptions. And I have a feeling they’re kinda blocking the doorway for any new ones…

So I’ve decided to just make them, force myself to begin – and if they’re no good, I can make them again. Totally new experience to me, I never did the same image twice. Or rehearsed them.

As for the backgrounds sitting in a pile, I’ll try to put anything on there now, even if it’s not what I think is my usual topic matter. For instance, even though I love gardens and take copious photos of flowers, I never considered myself a floral painter. But I quit resisting when all this canvas wanted was some poppies – now I just have to work on them a lot, as you can see they’re going through multiple stages before being even close to a sketch. (I was interrupted the other day, as usual. By the same person who interrupted me with the same painting a month ago, when I was doing the background! I just hope it won’t be another month before I get back to it – last time I completely forgot my actual plan with it. And well, the famous thumb and all…)


I don’t really wish to paint from life – that’s a camera thing for me. Painting is for the world inside my head.

I actually have a third hurdle, as if the first two weren’t enough. I never painted or drew people. I never take photos with people if I can help it, even as a tourist I wait until everybody is out of the frame before I click. But it appears that some of my “illustrations” have people in them. Which means I have to learn from scratch and develop a “style” if I want these images to live. It’s not going to be easy, I’m no good at people in any aspect. I even avoid mirrors.

I’m still not certain whether this new thing is really coming from me though, or if I’m simply influenced by all the mixed-media art journaling I’ve been seeing around. So the figures may or may not happen.

And that’s what I’ll be dedicating December to. No more touchy feely I’ll bloody well do what I feel like-a-day. I’ve got a job. Not like pretending to make art, no, this will be deliberate and planned destruction. Because I am in the mood and still nothing happens, as opposed to not really feeling like it but thinking you should.

I don’t know why I persist, but it seems I have to give it a go. And yarn. Silly, useless, colourful string. I always have my Adobe studies to fall back on if my hand acts up. And plugins..

All I know is, I spent many years doing just tedious jobs and nothing creative at all and I don’t like the person that turns me into – I don’t think anybody else does either. So I need to keep giving this as much space as possible, because even if it sounds like I struggle, it really is the only thing that keeps me alive. It doesn’t have to end with painting – after all it’s been on the shelf for 20 years while other crafts are more recent and perhaps more likely to yield “products” I’m happy to call finished. But just as I always considered myself a horse rider even when I didn’t ride for a decade, I still have this image of myself as someone who paints. Weird, huh?


11 thoughts on “Forced painting

  1. I always love reading about your thoughts about artists’ blocks and things that prevent you from creating what you like, mainly because I have many of the same blocks and anxieties myself so I like hearing about how you are trying to overcome them.
    It’s an interesting artistic dilemma regarding which approach to choose: the bottom up approach of just starting to paint and seeing what comes up versus the top-down of having a plan based on a vision of what you’d like to paint. My problem is that the bottom-up approach doesn’t work for me (I get stuck, and don’t know how to proceed), but the top down approach is very hard as I’m not skilled enough (or confident enough of my skills) to reproduce my vision. My own solution has been to try to learn to draw first, but that has turned into a massive time-consuming undertaking in itself (although I am determined to keep going, no matter how slowly, as I am hoping for some kind of artistic liberation by doing it). I like your solution of staying within the painting medium, and just painting and re-painting a colourful and visually pleasing topic like your poppies, much more fun and instantly gratifying than some of my drawing exercises!

    1. Oh, there is/will be drawing. But there is a limit even to the goofiness I’m willing to show in public. 😉

      I don’t know yet which method is best for me, because, as you say the road to the planned picture is much, much longer because of skill. Oh, I keep hitting myself over the head for not practising these last 20 years, I might in fact have been pretty good by now.

      Luckily I have no desire to draw realistic. But you still have to develop a sure hand, “a line of your own”. I know what I like, so I guess the first hurdle ought to be copying that instead of expecting to do my own thing from day one.

      It would be so much easier, if I could just download my brain onto a harddrive as jpgs!

  2. I love the feeling of light and the colours in your last ‘wisp’ Pia! It is difficult for me to paint entirely intuitively, so I avoid it. Perhaps it is time to grasp the nettle! a bit later….. Hats off to you for pushing these boundaries.

    1. Seems it’s not just me having trouble with the intuitive method. I guess the reason I keep exploring it is that I like some of the results other people are getting with it! But it’s easy to run into that “now what” halfway through, which then turns into startitis and not a lot of finished paintings. Which is a great recipe for feeling failure… So a nettle it is!

  3. hi … I have nominated you for an award which celebrates the fact you have interesting posts that do not speak for the sake of speaking, and are a good balance . I hope you can accept . The details of the award are here .All you need to do if you accept is write 8 facts about yourself and nominate 8 blogs that you feel should have this award , and let them know . I hope you feel able to accept .

  4. I think you are suited for intuitive painting. Of the paintings you have shown, the first two of the group of three look finished to me, the poppies look like they’re headed in the right direction, and the one at the bottom also looks finished or close to…. doesn’t need much. Don’t worry about doing it. You already are.

    1. That’s very interesting and I really appreciate and value your input. So you’re saying I’m making things too complicated, LOL. Trying to cram too many things into one image – I’m going to have to ponder that and see how it feels.

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