Why Getting Stuck while Painting is GOOD (Great?)

I recently made a couple of YouTube videos (Videos 31 and 32) that show the playful and "easy" way I like to start during the painting process and compare these stages to painting like a child (that should be pretty obvious!). (Video 30, and Video 31 are my latest videos describing a large scale (48x96in) diptych started in Acrylic, which later moves on to cold wax/oil. Although starting like this is easy, and can be done without any thought, it makes the later stages much more challenging and difficult. That is why I like to start this way. If art reflects life, then remembering the freedom and spontaneity, nonjudgmental attitude and joy in creating as as child is something I want to do again, as these marks and colors reflect my life at that young age. It was a time when I didn't think too hard, stress over what I was creating or what the next day would hold. At the same time, starting this way creates the most difficult challenges later on - ones that rival the hardest decisions in life.

Painting for me is a way to "relive" my life experiences each time I begin a new painting. I begin with an easy point of entry, ie just slap paint around. Sometimes I will limit the palette, but sometimes not. What matters is not how I begin, but that I begin. This allows me to avoid procrastination, which can definitely impact an artist's productivity and definitely stopped me dead in my tracks many years ago. I had fear, high expectations, and it was actually a burden to pick up a brush for fear I would fail or make something really bad. Now, I approach the process differently because I think differently. I don't really care how I begin, however, I do care A LOT how I end. This makes sense. The child (early stages of painting) progress into the teenage years (middle stages) where some thought kicks in, and the need for something more than a childish, garish beginning takes over. It is still experimental at this stage, for the teenager can be reckless (!), is still a risk taker and feels a bit invincible.

Finally, in the last stages of my painting's life, the adult has fully entered the room. Past experience and knowledge allow an inner sense of what is needed to express the whole life experience on a 2D surface with paint. All the layers of joy, fear, pain, happiness, sadness, loss and gain permeate the brushstrokes and choices of color. It matters what the ending looks like; it must reflect the totality of what I feel now. The reason this result is so far from the beginning stages is simply because I am no longer that child. And, as an adult, problems become harder to solve, perplexing, challenging, and take time. The same is true in a painting's life. I can pretty easily bring a painting to 80-95% satisfaction, but the last 5-20% is a killer. Knowing I am close, but not yet there, is the challenge I strive for, and the place where I experience the greatest growth. No doubt I've stopped at 95% many times, but as I get older, it's simply becoming less ok to do this because I want to express who I really am, or at least who I'd like to be. I don't really want to be a 95% person and would rather risk sending the painting backwards than stopping short. It allows me to take heart stopping risks, and allows me to be even more reckless in the early stages - anything to help me push the bar a little higher. In this particular video series, I have brought the painting to a stage that is around that 80% stage, and I am a little stuck. I am considering the ways I could go, and there are many. But, it is the finesse and subtlety that is critical. This is the part I love, and realize I must go somewhere I haven't gone before.

Videos 32 and 33 are the conclusion of this 4 part series and I hope you enjoy it! You can check these videos out in the Videos and Tutorial section of this website :)

Happy Painting! Pam