Colors and Marks

Continuing on with the technical discussion. As an fyi, I am posting the progression of my latest painting on my facebook professional page. You can find it here: So when last I wrote, the ground color often changes, and that in turn will often decide which colors I choose to harmonize with it. It's very much like music. A wrong note can set if off in a very bad way. What is the wrong note? You'll know it when you see it. It sticks way out and waves at you.

My latest piece is falling within the range of the earth tones. However today, I threw in some subtle purples of the cooler variety, just to see how that would work. So far so good. It takes trying it, and then living with it a bit to really know. A few decisions are instantaneous, more often, they take a lot of pondering.

Which brings me to the all important part of 'mark making'. The inspiration for this blog actually.

For me, everyone has their own 'mark' much like your signature. I happen to find it important enough not to hide. I want them visible, the entire convoluted trail of my thought process. Within reason of course.  A lot of my work from the last 3 years are filled with energetic strokes and reflects the place I'm in right now in my life. I believe, this is part of the experience of connecting with your viewer. Show them who you are.

As I begin, the marks take on a certain speed. I work quickly in the beginning to cover the entire canvas. Each subsequent layer also covers the entire canvas. As these layers begin to accumulate, I slow down and take stock of what just happened. I view the painting close up, at a distance, in a mirror, upside down. Try to remove myself FROM the marks to understand their shape, their form, how they connect to my vision. It can take days. It becomes a truly meditative time. This is the gift of slowing down. Just as I sat on the ground, or worked with my models and absorbed the experience...that study of what I just did becomes the SAME kind of quiet, the same kind of honesty to FEEL what's going on just as much as I'm SEEING what's going on. Does that make sense? I believe we have to take it all in, very reflectively.

This quiet analysis leads to my next move. Do I adjust the color? Do I exaggerate a shape? Do I soften it, sharpen it? This is the area where the descriptive qualities of the image can change. The marks take priority over describing the form. I am more interested in making the surface of the canvas a player in the dynamic. Is it textural, is it transparent? Bold or quiet passages?

All these questions do indeed come up. But you have to be quiet long enough to want to listen. If you do, all that work invested in the foundation building and learning make it all worthwhile. You are free.