Painting in Pastel and Taking Notes
Today I am going to be talking about painting and the mind. Painting and the mind are two forces that can work in harmony or they can be opposing forces that mock one another.
Do you ever wonder why some of your paintings come out marvelous from the start; they flow and move as if you have done them before? The painting feels as though it’s almost too easy. Your mind and the act of painting are working in unison. They are in lock step, creating a flowing beauty that you almost feel like an observer to its process. We have all felt this at one time or another, haven’t we?
Then there are those other moments, the moments when your painting is like a mule that doesn’t want to go anywhere that you’re going. You push, sweat and try to bend its will to yours with futility. This is when the mind and the act of painting are not working together at all. Do you ever wonder why this happens? There are not many differences from one day to next. The subject matter is very similar yet it’s a different world from the flowing painting session.
We artists get in our own way so often, don’t we? We block our own geniuses because we fear the unknown results. We try and fix the problems before we even get to them. In the beginning of a new painting, especially after a successful piece, we hope that we can do it again. Our motto should be like that of the baseball pitcher, “Think Long, Think Wrong”.
Planning your steps is very important. Making sure you repeat the processes that made your successful paintings flow with ease. Have a notebook and pen next to your easel. If we write down painting experiences during and after each painting session, both the hurdles and triumphs that we encounter, we would have a much better time at it. Let’s say for instance: The under painting was too strong and it got in the way of the application and coverage of the subsequent pastel layers; If you write that down, it becomes a written warning you have logged into your painting journal. If there is a great mixture for luminous shadows that you discovered, write that down. It now becomes an added weapon at your disposal.
These are tools that are just as important as the pastel stick or anything else in the studio. Before you start your painting session, read over the notes of the past painting sessions. You will find that you are now in more control of your mind and the painting process. If you see the bump in the road that you encountered in a past painting, you can easily steer around.
Progress is made when we learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. Alone in our studios we need to be our own teachers, coaches if you will. Writing detailed notes we are able to see trends in our own work; we can also share this insight with fellow artists.