Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Power of Destruction

Perfection. The word brings to mind overly manicured gardens at historic French villas, straight lines that you're not allowed to color outside of and predictability.

Some painters strive for perfection. I imagine they are the ones who painstakingly recreate every detail of a subject using tiny paintbrushes with 3 bristles on the end. They spend months duplicating what a camera can capture in seconds. Their audience praises their work by exclaiming,"That looks exactly like a photograph!"

When you are learning to paint you struggle for years just trying to make your stuff look like stuff. You spend time trying not to make mistakes, hoping you're doing it right and figuring out how to make your stuff look darn good.

One day it dawns on you that your stuff actually looks like stuff! And then you spend a whole lot more time (a lifetime) trying to make your stuff look as amazing as possible.

This year a huge lesson I've learned is embracing destruction. Every studio painting I've worked on this year has almost been wiped entirely off the canvas. What seems to happen in this, I do some sketches and color studies, then I transfer my idea to a larger canvas, I block in all my big shapes and I passionately hate every inch of the painting.

The dark side of my brain whispers, "That's it, you lost it, you can't paint worth a damn anymore. Hang it up. Sell off your equipment and go back to work as a graphic designer."

Then my stomach reminds me that it's lunch time and I'm hungry. I get very hangry (that's hungry and angry mashed together in case you weren't aware) and tend to be negative until I'm fed. After eating I remember that I love painting, it's my compulsive obsession and I don't want to be a graphic designer again. So I take a look at the painting.

I still hate every inch. I plan on wiping it off first thing after dropping my kids off at school the next morning.

However, I refuse to let it be a complete loss. I plan to experiment with it before wiping it off just to see what I am able to learn by pushing paint around. More specifically, I plan to destroy parts of it by breaking edges, scraping away large areas with a palette knife, drawing on it with a pencil, slapping thick paint through passages where I see a sharp line and using tools can only be found at a home improvement store.

Why not, right? I was going to wipe it off anyway.

And that's when it happens - the interesting stuff, the stuff worth keeping, the stuff that makes the painting worth looking at, the fun stuff. The more risks I take the more interesting the painting becomes until eventually I don't hate it anymore and I don't plan on wiping it off anymore.

Now I embrace the opportunity for destruction. In fact, I look forward to it.


1 comment:

Marcela Strasdas said...

Love this post Kim, Thabk you sharing!