On a recent hike with my kids, I was treated to an array of colorful cumulus cloud formations. However what was even more intriguing was that I did not notice them but only towards the end of my hike. I immediately drew a parallel with painting, in how artists have a tendency to paint without seeing the whole.
One of the greatest lessons I learned but struggle with on constant bases is painting while being mindful of the whole. Every stroke that is applied has to be in its place, with a correct color and edge. It is so easy to get caught up in painting certain sections that you forget how it fits with the rest of the work. It is known that such masters as John Singer Sargent walked away from his paintings after every stroke to see whether it fits correctly.
Having said this, even with ample experience you will find that most “finished” works will need to go through certain amount of deduction before completion. This polishing (or simplifying) part of painting will usually be a pretty good gauge as to your overall level of “presence” while painting.
Here are some tips to help you paint more intuitively:
1. Work on smaller canvases that you can complete in one session. This will negate onset of boredom.
2. Paint standing up and not sitting.
3. Use one size bigger brushes then the job calls for. Forces you to focus or larger sections.
4. Don’t slap paint on the surface or willy dally with the brush continuously. Apply at most 3 strokes with your brush, and then reload.
A winding road that once used to lead me through countryside as well as wide open pasture lands, now instead intersects vast urban housing sprawl. As the years passed, my daily journey through this South East Ontario Town has become progressively less picturesque. But I was not concerned about the journey so much, as my thoughts and concentrations were focused on completing my project. The project of painting the church walls with Byzantine iconography.
St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox church, located on a hill overlooking Kitchener Ontario, was built in 1994 by its many devout and like minded perishers. It’s a traditional style basilica with a long nave and a sizable quire loft. Though it’s considered simplistic in design, its long open walls presented quite a challenge when it came to the iconography design. A large icon of Virgin Mary and Christ child adorns the main apse in the alter surrounded by the Holy Communion, while the feasts of our Lord and the Virgin Mary, as well as Old Testament icons are placed accordingly in the nave and the choir.
As the May summer winds blow over the church plateau, with the help of the church goers and the Grace of God, I painted the final icon “The beheading of St John the Baptist” an appropriate piece in the chapel devoted to him. A church that was built over 20 years ago can only now be considered complete. As I reflect back on this 5 year on and off project, as an end of a chapter, I’m excited about tomorrow. A tomorrow that will present a windy road of its own that leads through countryside or a subdivision to my next church project.