Thursday, September 1, 2016

Painting without thinking

Dog Made Of Sunlight
I wanted to paint some dogs but don't have any models, so I decided to paint an imaginary dog, and while doing it I would practice painting intuitively, letting the work proceed without me getting in the way. I had been looking at pictures of greyhounds because I think they're beautiful, and made a small paint sketch of a greyhound sitting in front of a big full moon, and figured out how I might create the textures I wanted in the painting. I decided that was a Moon Dog, and I needed to also make a Sun Dog. I sketched out a dog that was sort of like a friend's Corgi, and I wanted him to look like he was made of sunlight.

This was a really relaxed, fun painting to do. I was able to just paint without thinking about what I was doing, or what I wanted the painting to look like. In essence, I was trying to not think about the painting at all, but just to allow my actions to come from a place separate from thought—maybe from the will, or the subconscious—somewhere where I couldn't worry about it, or do anything but watch and enjoy the colors, get the right paint on the brush and put the right amount of the right color in the right place on the canvas. What I did allow myself to do was to evaluate the results, and if I liked them, I left them, and when I didn't like them, I reworked them until I did.

I've been telling myself for a long time that I need to stop thinking while I'm painting, but recently while working on a landscape, I discovered that if I focused my attention on my hands and on observing what they did, I could shut off the thinking part of my mind. It may seem silly, but it was the trick I needed to let my hands just paint without me trying to direct them. The magic part of doing this is that painting becomes relaxing and stress free as long as I keep working. Frequently, I'll come to a point where I stop working and take a minute, but like as not I'll pick the brush back up and go right back to work on some other bit. It might be the same thing I'm doing when I meditate—shutting off the plotting, planning, worrying mind, and just observing.

Frequently, the colors and the patterns I make don't make sense to me at first, and I can't predict the outcome, or tell if it will evolve into the idea I had in my head before I started. More than once I thought, what a stupid idea to paint an imaginary dog! Who would every buy such a painting! But while I had the brush in my hand, while I was mixing colors and slowly building up each part until it began to look both unique and finished, I totally enjoyed the process. There was no worrying while I was painting, just playing without thinking.

The color scheme on this one was red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow-orange. Very fun to play with.

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