"Angel 7" by Jim Carpenter, 6.5" x 4.5," Acrylic on Paper
Re-Turning To What I Never Left, Right?
It has been one week since I submitted anything for Leslie Saeta's 30 Day Challenge. I did spend time in the studio painting, but I seemed to be getting nowhere fast. I am not really a "daily painter" - although I hope to paint every day, my process is one that does not generally lead to a completed painting in one day. My process is also full of surprises for me, but that is to be expected when one approaches things from the perspective of "not knowing," which is how I approach my paintings.
I did not see "Angel 7" until 7 p.m. tonight although it was actually right in front of my face and at the end of my brush for the last 48 hours. I had been working on the same 9" square sheet of paper for a week - painting and lifting and painting and lifting, and obliterating. A couple of days ago this sheet of paper was a proper painting and then I decided it was really just dreadful and so I rubbed it out and started again.
I delineated the figure in "Angel 7" two or three days ago and was quite happy with it but because it was settled in the left side of the 9" square I spent much of my time trying to make the other half of the painting work. I saw the figure on the left side of the paper as a secondary figure. I really don't know why I thought that way about it, but my hunch is that it was because it was on the left side of the paper and there was nothing on the right to balance it. The composition demanded something on the right and as I worked on bringing out a vague figure on the right side of the paper I also worked on solidifying the figure on the left, never actually thinking it was more than a secondary point of focus.
Step Away From The Painting and Carry the Moon
I was determined to post a painting tonight so when it was time for me to leave my studio to go to the Wellness Center to teach my qigong class, I promised myself that when I got back I would get back to painting right away. "Carrying The Moon" is the qigong pattern we did tonight. I never underestimate the cleansing power of my qigong practice and the clarity of mind it produces. I think it no coincidence that the moment I got home after class and went to the painting I saw that the painting wasn't working; I saw that I had a figure on the left and a big vague empty space on the right. I said "It's not a painting yet." And then it hit me, "But if I crop this, maybe I'll have a painting." I took some mat corners and cropped it to exactly the same size as the paintings in the angel series, 4.5" x 6.5." How weird is that?
Trust Your Creative Process
It may seem like an immediate no brainer to some of my artist buddies. Are you all saying, "Well, big DUH, Jim!" I don't blame you. I'm saying it too. Why I didn't see it sooner I don't know. I was holding out for something bigger? Yes, like twice as big, actually - 9" instead of 4.5! "Just crop it, Jim!"
If this teaches me anything it teaches me that my creative process is always working, even when I think it is not. Painting paintings that I decide are all wrong, spending hours trying to make one part of the painting work when the actual painting is already there just waiting for me to notice it - that's all part of my creative process. And to me, the most intriguing aspect of this is that this painting is exactly what I set out to do on day one of this challenge - a series of "angel" paintings - 4.5" x 6.5" - and here I "thought" that I had given up on that idea. Ha!
Sometimes I think my creative spirit has a mind of its own.