Bravely going off in another direction

Does it ever happen to you where you set an intention to do something only to find that you have done something else? That is what happened to me yesterday. I was all set to start writing up some story cards from the source material for Mona’s Work. As I turned around to pick up the material, I locked attention on my oil painting in progress.

(18″ X24″ 1.5″ canvas)

That was it. Next thing I know my creative energy was thrumming at a low hum and hours had disappeared as follows…

I paint the sandstone cliffs with their heavy underbelly colours. The sea rushes towards my brush – pushing and pulling. I witness the internal tension.

Exactness is not the same as expressing the exact emotion in your work.

I knew I needed the cadmium underpainting to hold the seascape together – I did not know it would also hold me together as I painted.

I remind my self to breathe through my nose as the sea air catches me – yet the only sound is the swish, swish, swish of my brush on the canvas. Stretched tight under my enthusiasm every now and again there is throng drum before the swish. Linseed oil seeps through where there had been the smell of the salt from the sea.

I haven’t forgotten, I know the spring of the canvas, I know that sandstone needs a hint of crimson in its tan mix, I know – yes I know. Ohhhhh! I know nothing! What is this tangle paint scrapping it out on the canvas? Time to stop.

Will it make a painting? Yes, it already is a painting. Will it make a gallery painting? This is never my painterly question.

Swish, swish, swish – brush on canvas – a sound as soothing as the surf coming ashore.

Mona’s Work is pushed forward into tomorrow, March 2, 2010 (the painting will take a few days to get tacky enough to work on again anyway).

Sprout Question: Have you ever felt like you cheated on your creative intention?

Oil painting is very different from my usual medium of water colour painting. With water colours I go from light to my darkest colours at the very end. I still block in my composition with underpainting but I have to be able to “live with” what shows through. With oil painting, I start with a contrasting underpainting colour to block in the composition. Because of the strong divergence of colour that will be in this finished painting, I stayed with one range of colour in the underpainting. In both mediums, I build the painting up over a series of sittings. However, it has been over 30 years since I have painted with oils. My brain feels the stretch from working the colours from dark to light, as I had been taught by an Australian trained artist, Sheila Timmins, when I was about fourteen years old. The water miscible oils paints I’m using now are a little different but I’m not sure exactly how yet.

Bonus: Here is a photo of a finished oil painting “The Cow” by my sister Sue Wiebe whose work some of you had asked to see. Excellent control of shadow and light.

And here is a close up of Sue Wiebe’s “Water Lilies” that shows the layering of paint which allows the water to flatten on the canvas and the lily pads to float on top.

Thank you sis for sending me these images to share. Artist Sue Wiebe lives in Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada. With an undergraduate degree in English, she has also completed a year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Every once in a long while she finds a free moment to sprout on Creative Potager.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada