Category Archives: Theory

what do you do well?

A painter I know asked me one simple question a few months ago that I couldn’t adequately answer. He asked me if I knew what I did well.

This was the first painting I did after circling back to reacquaint myself with the importance of values. I was consciously aware of separating my light and shadow families when I painted this.

It’s a great question and one that I’m still trying to answer for myself. Because I had come to work in a way that was largely intuitive, I couldn’t necessarily break down the parts, so to speak. I knew … Read more ...

Creating without resistance or attachment

While leafing through a sketchbook earlier today, I came across this drawing that I made in January. It took me by surprise because I have no memory of having made it. I drew it and then moved through, creating without resistance or attachment.

graphite drawing, self portrait

I didn’t criticize it or question why I did it. I didn’t analyze or look for mistakes.

And this may be the most important part to me- I also didn’t share it (until now). I didn’t post it on Facebook or on Instagram and then wait for validation. In fact, I don’t even care whether this drawing … Read more ...

Nothing to lose: taking risks when painting

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking risks when painting. In fact, risk-taking has become an integral part of my process. I will wipe out, paint over, glaze, scumble, and do whatever it takes to get at what I’m trying to communicate in a painting. I take risks to grow as a painter and to push past hurdles. Sometimes I ruin a painting in the process, but if the painting was mediocre or unresolved, then I didn’t lose anything.

He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.

-Lao tzu, Tao te ching
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Begin without beginning – an intuitive painting process

oil painting of pink rose in crystal bud vase
quiet light

When I paint, I “begin without beginning.” Another way to say it is to “begin without knowing.” This approach is opposite of the advice to “begin with the end in mind,” or to know where you’re going before you start. I’ve found that this organic, intuitive painting process suits me better than pre-planning every step. I try not to focus too much on the outcome of a painting session.

An artifact, not a painting

Let me explain. This means that I don’t usually actively try to produce a “painting” when I paint, though a painting is the result. … Read more ...