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It Starts With Being Personal

Jun 1, 2017

The Painting Process is Different for Everyone

Sometimes a painting takes a long while to complete and sometimes it doesn't. I’ve discovered that each one has a life of its own and I’ve learned to respect that. I recall (during a private mentoring series) Canadian artist Kindrie Grove said "let the painting go where it wants to go". Having been to both Art school and Design school, I was surprised I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about. But I was greatly intrigued and I remembered that comment. Now all I had to do was pay attention. 

This understanding didn’t come overnight and I admit that I have found this concept to be more true for my paintings once I began painting abstractly. Having a professional background in Graphic Design I’m skilled at “the rules" but I’ve also had years to learn to listen to my intuition. This combination is what moves me forward. These two “mind sets” quietly join forces with me when I let go and just paint. At any time, either voice can come forward or recede and then I find myself “ leaning". That state is ok too. As I go through the painting process there’s a lot of back and forth. But there is also a remarkable thing that happens and that’s when I seem to disappear and the painting appears instead.

Getting Personal With Art

It starts with being personal. When Hunter, my pooch-companion of 9 years died, I had been painting realistic subject matter. Mostly landscapes. I took them very literally. I had just moved here to the Okanagan, far away from the pressures of a career in the city and a profession riddled with deadlines. Now I and "art in my life" had space to breathe. Only a few months after moving here, Hunter died. There was cancer and chemo and a new cancer and then nothing. He was gone. Everyone loses loved ones. I was struck hard by losing this big boy that hung out with me in my design office in Vancouver, on several daily walks, during tough times or lonely times and most definitely vacation times. He was “in" my everything. And now he wasn’t. I was beside myself. Still a productive person in my new life. But crushed inside.

My painting journey changed because of him. I stopped painting landscapes and painted him instead. Days before he died, I whispered to him that I’d never forget him. I promised, "I would paint him and I’d paint the way I want.”  For one and a half years I drew and painted him, pulling out all my art supplies, charcoal in hand carving away at paper and practicing painting skills on canvas, looking for that sweet face again. 

Then it was time. The big question: How do “I want to paint?” I knew immediately. I wanted to go abstract. It was the only way to let go. It was the only way to get more personal. 

Have you ever had something like this happen in your life where it changed your direction moving forward? I’d love to hear. Please leave your comments below.

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