I began a new painting today. The images inspiring this painting have been floating in my head for a couple of weeks, since I made a trip out to Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula. Standing on the shore facing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I became entranced by the seafoam rushing forward, swirling in overlapping patterns then sweeping away and I knew I had to explore these amazing abstract forms in paint.
I pulled out a new canvas from my stash, played around with cropping some of the photos I took, then, settling on one photo which had a particularly interesting composition, I started painting. The photo got me started with an underlying compositional concept but a painting needs to be a painting, not a copy of a photo. A painting needs to be well constructed as well as gestural and fluid so I worked quickly, establishing large shapes of light and dark then asking my brush to provide hints of form as I scrubbed it back and forth. I was pleased by how much I got done in just a couple of hours as I hurriedly washed my brushes before running out to yoga class.
Light, dark, color shift, brush direction, it is an intuitive process based on practice. I thought of my students and the angst new painters have when beginning a painting - that gut-wrenching feeling of having no idea of how or where to start or what to do next. As a student, I was so overwhelmed with fear that I was often incapacitated! (I was convinced my professors were deriving some kind of enjoyment from the torture I was in!) Now, as a teacher, it's important to remember that nausea-inducing terror and empathize with my students!