In my Painting III course our latest assignment included an interesting exercise. For the entirety of our painting we had to use a two inch brush. Hearing this did not seem like a challenge at first. Working on larger scales for painting I found that this would not be an extremely challenging assignment. However, there was another aspect of this exercise that would pose a different challenge. We could only paint on a 15’x15″ or 15″x17″ surface. This meant that we would be using a large brush on a small scale. In my mind, I first thought this would be great and that I would have the painting done in no time seeing as I was using a large brush on a small physical space. But I soon came to realize the real challenge of following the exercise was producing results I was satisfied with.
At first I attempted to create a still life based on a famous still life by Henry Matisse, but this time altering the color palette. It wasn’t long before I realized that this image source was extremely challenging to please me aesthetically while meeting the assignment criteria. At first, I wanted to stick with the piece and force a painting out of it. Then I realized something. It is paint. I can paint over it. This painting does not have any hold on me to keep it and force a piece that is simply not working. So I did just that. I painted over it and felt relief instantaneously. I then changed my subject matter to landscape. Even further, I chose a landscape that would lend itself to abstraction.
By working abstractly, I was able to paint freely with a large brush on a tiny surface. I found being generous with the paint aided in elements of texture and aesthetic appeal. Also, I had a fun time experimenting with the effects of paint thinner on the piece to separate water from the sky. I was glad I did not give up on the assignment but I was even more glad I didn’t let the assignment have a hold on me. I was able to change it when it felt necessary and I am happy with the results of altering a piece from my original plan.