Sunday, May 16, 2010

Painting and Alchemy

Artists tend to be their own worst enemies at times. I am an artist, and I'm no exception. Sometimes I must work against an immobilizing force. It will take a powerful ritual to overcome it.

First to create the space; easel and light.
Then to gather elements; canvas, paints, tools, music, water, coffee, food for energy.

Then to gather the will to create when I feel I cannot.

I have only the most vague and fleeting notion of what I'll make. Only the emotion. Fear.
I'm feeling it too. So I'll start there.

(Fear is personal. Don't underestimate your courage when visiting difficult inner places. It's not jumping from a plane, but it's not less. The world needs soldiers and poets both.)

I vow to to laud myself for the effort, regardless of what is produced.
I draw on memories of past works, completed successfully.
I trust the process, which is proven, and living and present and more than just me.

The ritual. Signal to begin. Painting the canvas black.

Which I stare at for awhile.

Then I coat it with crackle medium, because I know I'll want texture. Where I don't can be painted over.

First to describe the direction of movement.
What do I know so far? That there is a fence, a night sky, and someone very afraid and with good reason.
I rough in the fence. The crackle medium has begun to dry. My brush strokes will determine the pattern of the breaks.

The medium doing its thing. I'm here for awhile. Struggling with how to paint the thing to be afraid of. There are so many fearsome things.

I decide that I'm more interested in the fear than the creature. Scared rabbit.


Scared rabbits.

Now I know where I'm going. I accept the fact that the finish will be somewhat different than I expect. Do the work and see what happens.

The process is in motion, now I must execute this idea. The dance between emotion and skill, right-brain and left-brain, is begun in earnest.

I know the fence needs more space, so I extend it by over painting in black/crackle/gray and I lay in the background light, in layers from darker to lighter.

I work on perspective. Which begins to give me a headache.

I take some food and coffee. Look at the birds. Gather the will.

Experiment with some texture. Gesso makes the black too light, so used some white glue, will dry clear and leave the black, black.

Close up shows textures, paint strokes.

More detail for background.
I am pulling in things, both real and imagined. Memories of planes and dragonflies, war and monsters.

Roughing in a closer glimpse of a creature.

Roughed in the rabbits.

The finished rabbits. I like this crop. It may be stronger than the whole painting. That's for another day.

Dragons at Dawn.
It feels right. I'm okay with that.

This is where I laud myself for all efforts, fix myself a drink and watch SNL.


Neon said...

hi Lisa

this post has been hugely inspiring! Being along for the ride in creating one of your pieces shines a light on your thoughts and creative processes and gives those of us currently suffering from artists block confidence to push through.
Thank you so much!

spacedlaw said...

Poor little rabbits. They look terrified. I never realized you could paint over crackling varnish. Have you ever tried to use wax in your paintings?

lisa said...

Neon: I was hoping that would be the case. That makes it worth the effort of taking the photos.
You're hugely welcome.

spacelaw: I'm glad you think so. I haven't tried wax---only on eggs. Do you mean like batik? As a blocking agent? It sound's interesting.

Melissa P said...

I like the cropped portion a lot. It's so intense.

(Love my little Steampunk Poppet who arrived yesterday with Victorian Poppet. They're still investigating their new surroundings.)

lisa said...

Melissa: Thanks. I have to agree. We'll see where it goes.
Glad you and Poppets are happy.

chrisa511 said...

I just had to delurk today and tell you how wonderful this post was Lisa :) So inspiring and beautiful to get a glimpse into the creative process. And I love the finished piece. It's haunting.

Lindsey said...

thank you so much for showing the process, it's fascinating to me. Also, the finished product is just stunning, I love the colors and the mood and the everything :)

lisa said...

Yay Chris! Always a pleasure to hear from you. Hope you are surviving the world as it is now.

lisa said...

Lindsey: you're welcome. Seems I need to keep the camera handy.

Anonymous said...

This has been a truly fascinating post to read - thank you. As I scrolled down seeing the fence, texture details, dragonflies and planes, then the dragon's tail - all I could think of was war. Poor little rabbits - being bombed by the 10th dragon brigade......

lisa said...

Shu:I thought of war too. When I was a tot, my parents would sit at the kitchen table late at night, talking quietly, worried about what was happening in the world. I'd sneak out of bed and listen. I didn't understand the conversations, but the fear was very real.
War is very real, and is now.

ravyn said...

i can't decide if i like the crop better than the full image. The crop is very dramatic, and yet, i love that huge dragon in the top/foreground, it looks like a twister reaching across the sky. It's a fantastic, intense painting, i love it.

lisa said...

ravyn: thank you, m'dear. Kind words indeed. The dreaded hole has nabbed me. Please hit me with a good thought.

ravyn said...

lisa - when it's not raining here, i've been taking care of my flower bed, something i hadn't done in a few years. i was delighted to discover that my balloon flowers are spreading (they won't bloom for another month though).

But here is the first of my irises to bloom. Irises are one of my most favorite flowers :-) One day you will have to come out here to see me, i'll provide air conditioning to combat the humidity LOL.

ravyn said...

oh and i *finally* remembered what the C in CSF stood for: cerebro. Yeesh. But i had help from watching House episodes on DVD, LOL.