Tuesday, May 26, 2009


24 x 18 x 0.75", acrylic and mixed media on stretched canvas

In my last post, I mentioned that I came out of teaching my workshop with two paintings that I liked, which was a bonus. This is the second one. When the earlier painting looked finished at Step 2 (I usually paint in three steps; see the last post), I needed another Step 2 painting that I could use in a demo and develop to Step 3. So I went home and created a tremendous mess. This one has some dry wall tape, in addition to the regular texture material (stucco patch, flexible patching compound). Then I took it to the second day of the workshop.

When it came time to discuss developing a painting, we used this as material for sharing ideas. So we kind of painted this as a committee. My purpose was to demonstrate simplifying a painting (in other words, you shoulda seen this before I simplified it). The students sat where they could see my easel, and we discussed different features of the painting and directions we could go in developing it. For instance, just right of center and a little up is a wonderful wrinkly section that we agreed looked like a dragon's head. I could have punched up the detail in it and made it a focal point. But it fought with the orange circle at the center of the spiral, left of center, so I attenuated it.

The whole experience was wonderfully fun: throwing ideas around, demonstrating what you can do with texture when you're putting a second layer of paint on it, figuring out what delicious little bits to sacrifice to the whole. I got to see how much the students really did know. I think I'll keep this exercise it as a feature of future workshops. I was initially kind of terrified of having to take a painting to completion. After all, I can't guarantee that any given painting will come out well. But if we all do it together then the learning happens whether or not the final result is ideal.


  1. Really interesting description of your process in this post and the last one...I follow a similar route of editing my way out of chaos, and agree with the need to be ruthless in painting over things that do not contribute to the whole. The group discussion sounds like a brilliant way to convey that process to the students.

    The later phases of my own work can seem muddy compared to the first expressionistic marks I lay down. Easy to think I've "lost" something--must remind myself that there may have been some nice mark-making going on, but the more analytical side of my brain was not satisfied. It's also good to know that the earlier layers are still there, underneath, contributing richness and subtlety.

    Looking forward to seeing your work and you in person in July!

  2. Hi Rebecca. Interesting that the processes overlap. Also, I like your term "chaos" more than my phrase "tremendous mess."

    Do you find that creating the underlayers feels really fun and liberating? I find I'm the most childlike doing them. Then, when I need to create the final work, I have to be more thoughtful and analytical. I find it interesting that a big part of art, for me, is how I feel while I'm doing it.

    Yes, your July workshop should be fun. Looking forward to it.

  3. Yes, I do find that so with the underlying layers. I know they will be covered up which grants a certain freedom--while at the same time they contribute something to the end result. In the end, both careful thought and spontaneity have come into play.

  4. What an interesting way to develop a painting. I checked out your blog and love your abstract work. I'm a watercolorist leaning towards the abstract style. Just discovered Yupo which lends itself well to the abstract.

  5. Hi Jean. Oh, my, yes, you do powerful watercolors! Wow. And nice Etsy store. I've heard about Yupo and have one sheet, but have yet to play with it. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Hi Connie, I so enjoy reading about your process in creating. Love all the materials. I wish the texture came across more in the photo. I like the way this turned out. Love "Phosus" too.

  7. Hi Connie, I so enjoy reading about your process in creating. Love all the materials. I wish the texture came across more in the photo. I like the way this turned out. Love "Phosus" too.

  8. Hi Dori. Nice to see you (as it were). I agree about seeing the texture. On "Archulos," some weeks ago, I really missed the texture. Maybe I should start doing close-ups of it. [Connie starts pondering...]