Of course I’m not giving up painting !!!
I’m giving up painting with brushes.
We were a small group of 15 committed artists, completely cut off from the outside world for 9 days. It was protected and totally safe.
The retreat was led by a fantastic abstract painter, Nicholas Wilton who is based in San Francisco. He encouraged us to push ourselves and explore new creative directions in our painting.
I’ve been painting, exhibiting and supporting myself as an artist for over 20 years. But I admit, I felt a bit stale the past few years. As a career artist you need to shock your creative system every 10 years or so, in whatever way suits you. Otherwise painting can become a job.
Watching all the other artists painting with brushes inspired me. So I decided to hit the refresh button and learn to paint in a totally different way.
Until then, it had never been my approach to paint with brushes. Instead I always poured, painted with my hands, brayers and palette knives.
These past 9 months I decided to learn to paint with brushes.
And what an incredibly frustrating and humbling experience it’s been !
It’s a bit embarrassing to admit.
I’ve been in the studio every day for 8 – 10 hours.
I’ve worked and re-worked dozens of paintings, and don’t have ONE painting that satisfies me.
In 9 MONTHS !!!
A brush in my hand continues to feel foreign and restrictive. And to my eye, the awkwardness I feel shows up in these paintings.
But at some point ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !
Yesterday was the final straw. I got so frustrated with re-painting the same large canvas for weeks with nothing good to show for it, that I threw my brushes in the sink. I grabbed a brayer and began covering everything up with large gestures. Suddenly the painting came alive and I was having a blast.
To be clear, I didn’t feel pressured or obligated these past 9 months, to learn to paint with brushes. And I wasn’t subjecting myself to unnecessary suffering.
Instead it was about opening myself to other ways of thinking and creating art. Working through the physical challenges of painting in an unfamiliar way has made me hyper-aware of how I paint best. It’s given me a heightened sensitivity to my materials and tools.
In the long run, every frustrating moment taught me something. I even loved every minute in a weird sort of way.
Sometimes as artists, we MUST try new ways of working. It’s only by challenging ourselves that we keep moving forward.
But at the same time, “we must be in touch with what our souls want to do”.
That’s why I’m declaring here and now. NO MORE BRUSHES for me.