Painting is an incredibly intimate and involved discipline, a lot of the time it could be down right frustrating. So Perhaps the most frustrating part of painting is figuring out where to begin, it certainly has been for me anyway. Standing in front of a blank canvas, paint brush in hand could be a pretty intimidating thing. During my early days as a painting student, and indeed sometimes still today, I find myself stuck in that ‘deer in the head lights’ state but I’ve since learned a lot of different things that help me make like the bravest kid at the pool party and just jump right in!
Nothing is Permanent
As a person whose nerves are usually always hovering around a 5 or 6 outta 10, you could probably tell commitment is a pretty bugg-a-boo for me. starting out I had this notion that I had to marry every single brush stroke I dragged across the canvas, that once it was on the canvas it would require a signed sealed handwritten note from God in order to change. This was of course until about 5 seconds within learning with my painting teacher and academic advisor, Steven Alexander, when he reminded me that white paint exists. If you make a mistake or wish to rethink something on your canvas you could just paint over it! As obvious as that may be it actually took me quite a while to acknowledge this very simple rule of thumb because I was getting used to really everything about being trained in art as my primary area of education so its okay if these simple things aren’t so simple to get a hold of at first. That’s what we’re here for, to learn! Nothing is permanent especially all the not so good art habits we painting students bring with us from high school and any earlier training you have had.
Everyone Paints Differently
Typically I like to have some idea of what I want my painting to look like before I bring brush to canvas. This is where sketching has become an incredibly important part of my painting process. I will sometimes map out my entire composition on a piece of drawing paper before hand then project that thumbnail sketch onto the canvas them begin to work out the piece with painting, knife and brush. I was very ashamed of this to be honest at first, I somehow thought that I was “cheating” by using the projector to transfer my preliminary sketch to the canvas. I had it in my brain that in order to be a real painter your vision must be executed entirely and perfectly in one shot on your canvas, otherwise go kick rocks, kid! See ya in the funnies! This of course was nonsense, everyone paints different. However, this was something I’ve been self-conscious about until as recently as the beginning of fall semester 2019. It wasn’t until being reassured by Steven and Ryan Ward that using the projector is simply a tool that’s there to help you along with the work and that there is nothing wrong with copying your own design with it. This is a testament of how great our teachers in the art department in and that they are committed to helping you feel comfortable with yourself as an artist. Actually, my preliminary sketches have been commended by my teacher and hes encouraged me to display them alongside my finished painting next time I have a show which i intend to do!
Just Jump In
Finally, the best way to start a painting may be by just jumping in! Make mistakes, make a mess, paint the whole thing out and start all over again, it’s okay! Trust me when i say the funniest paintings are when you’re just going nuts with the knife allowing the paint to tell you what to do! You do not need to go into every single painting with the feeling that it needs to be the Mona Lisa, Divici is dead and you’re alive. Besides, the Mona Lisa is low key super overrated, Girl with the Pearl Earring is light-years better in my opinion. But I digress, when you begin a painting you can’t stand there worried about making a mistake like I have done in the past. One of the most important things you’ll learn here is that you have to allow yourself to mess up, allow yourself to get stuck on a painting because all those mistakes and places of artistic block are lessons learned for next time! Like i mentioned earlier, painting is an incredibly intimate and involved discipline, it requires time that leads to growth as an artist…but it a lot more fun when you just jump in and go to town!