First things first, my typical work day starts with coffee: I wake up, grind the beans, steam the milk, and using my espresso machine make an extra strength cappuccino which I enjoy with a slice of banana bread (that I bake myself) so I don’t rip out the lining in my stomach.
Once I got enough coffee coursing through my veins I go into the studio space. When I am working with acrylics there is no “warm up”. The material is already premixed in pots so I just pick up where I left off. The routine is different when I am working with oil colors. I arrange the colors in a specific sequence on the palette and mix the gradations I’ll be using first. Everything must be in a specific place. I paint using my muscle memory so I shouldn’t be having to think where a specific brush is or where to find the color I am looking for.
The whole process resembles a ritual as I step into and away from the canvas. Once the motion starts, I am on my way to a productive working day.
When I feel less than excited about working, all it takes is going through the motions of setting up the palette and placing myself in the right position to get me started. Starting work with acrylics is a little different. I just put myself in the working position and stand there looking at the work. Anywhere from five minutes to half an hour just standing there looking at the work is all it takes. Then suddenly it hits me, what needs to happen and off I go.
How I came to be a painter can be explained by two life-changing experiences: My family had just returned from a trip to South Africa to our home in England. I was about two years old, sitting on the floor holding a sharpened graphite pencil; something two-year-olds are probably not allowed today. I waved the pencil over a blank page and as if by magic, the page was blank no more. A black line came shooting out of its end creating circles and squiggles.
It felt like holding up a magic wand and creating an arc that went from the pencil to an object at a distance.
I remember thinking to myself, “wow! what’s this coming out of this thing!”. I must have played with crayons before then, but this particular moment really stood out. This was magic! From then on, as kids do, I started scribbling and drawing. Trying to make a straight line and tracing the edge of the page were my favorite “exercises” to try and get that pencil to do what I wanted it to do.
These images depict the various stages of progress I made on my most recent painting. It all starts with a pencil drawing on a blank canvas and it goes from there…
The Enlightenment was an attempt to liberate myth and base truth claims on evidence, not just dogma. But when science threw out the church, they threw out the baby with the bath water.
“Since violence is largely a male pastime, cultures that empower women tend to move away from the glorification of violence and are less likely to breed dangerous subcultures of rootless young men.”
I’ve just finished this drawing. I intend to use it as reference for my next painting. This is going to be part of a series of three or four new paintings for 2015.
Every time I take on a new student, drawing the skull is a rite of passage. I’ll be posting some of their progress in the future.