I have decided to commit myself to a long-term project this year. To dive deeper into and develop my style and to share my process and thoughts about what is going on both creatively and personally when I am creating this way. I’m thinking a lot about how, what and why I paint and I really want to explore that further.
Over the last years I have seen how several of the artists, I follow, has carried out various artsy challenges – 365 faces, drawing-a-day etc. I am deeply impressed by the commitment they put into it, and the development which obviously happens through such a process.
And every time I thought that I could never do that. I am simply too restless and impatient to keep up the interest on a single subject, the same material and the same size for a long time. Always new ideas and techniques to try out … often before I finish what I’m currently doing. It often results in projects being shelved just before they are finished and I jump around among a lot of fun projects, but without focus and direction.
But then I came across Kellee Wynne Conrad’s challenge #100artworkschallenge and I thought: That I could probably do. 100 sounds doable and there’s no deadline (I like that!).
Still, I had to spend a long time considering which topic, media and size I could keep the interest on through 100 works.
I pretty quickly decided on Mixed media. That way I get to play with a lot of materials in different ways. Kellee recommends small sizes and I already have a stack of 20×20 cm canvases lying around, so that choice was easy. You’re supposed to use the same substrate, but I give myself permission to break the rules, so I’m starting out on paper and will save the canvases for later.
The subject … now that was really difficult to decide on. It should be both challenging, fun, and somewhere I can express myself and my style. I looked at a LOT of collages/mixed media works on Pinterest etc. and although I love the variety and enjoy a wide range of styles, the works I always get back to features humans (or human-like creatures) and some kind of story, I can relate to. So that (pretty wide defininition) will be my choice of topic.
I will share my process here, but if you want to be sure to see all the artworks as they come to life, come follow me on instagram.
Ready, set, create!
Since I opened my Etsy shop, I’ve been planning to make a set of Christmas cards. You just have to, when you’re a Christmas lover, like I am. But alas, the inspiration was far far away because I wanted to create something in my own style, something a little bit different from what you’re used to, but still very Christmassy. What to do?
I did do some sketches, but didn’t like them. I looked at all kinds of Christmas stuff on Pinterest to get an idea of what makes something look like Christmas – is it the color combinations or the motifs? I certainly didn’t feel like doing Santa’s in red or green Christmas trees.
I’ve always loved the graphic styles from the 50-70s, so I started a board of Christmas stuff from that time. And – hooray – christmas was in all colors back then; pink, orange, teal, brown, purple etc.
At the same time I did this grey and neon colored quote and I had a painted paper laying around, waiting for a quote. But then I saw a fox appearing from the marks. I started tracing it and more animals and trees came through. I filled the gaps with grey, outlined and doodled a little more. It was a lot of fun!
The last doodles I did, was the snowflakes and there it was – my new Christmas style, yeah!
Next step was painting a series of painted papers, making marks and finding the hidden Christmas motifs in them.
Out of the 10 paintings I chose the 4 I liked the best. They were scanned so I could do the finishing touches on my computer to get the ready for print.
Off to the printer they went and this is the final result, that quickly found their way to my Etsy shop.
– the story behind the painting
This is one of my most expressive painting so far. It was inspired by a mini class by Mitsi B, called “Expressing the true you”. The prombt was to paint your feelings.
Before I painted I listed to the TEDtalk by Brené Brown below, about “The power of vulnerabilty” and that sure tricked something inside me. I found all of my fluorescent colours and painted quickly. It felt so good!
This turned out to be one of my most “raw” and chaotic pieces but strangely also one of those I connect with the most. It’s an expression of my own pains, fears and longings to be truely seen, heard, felt and known. It surpriced me that it turned out to be so sad, but apparently something needed to be let out.
Art surely heals!
Some years ago I took a course in art therapy. From the first brushstroke, we were told that the purpose was not to paint pretty pictures – but to paint important pictures. Important in the sense that they could tell us something about ourselves and the things going on in our lives and our heads. A kind of personal status report.
And I tell you; it was tremendously surprising how much I and my fellow students have been told and transformed through our paintings and the interpretations of them – guided by a skilled art therapist!
I fell in love with art therapy. But the first couple of months, I often left class quite frustrated. I loved painting and my pictures were often admired by others. The problem was that I painted “pretty” pictures. When the day’s assignment were given and it was time to grap the brushes, I already had a clear picture in my mind of what my painting would look like. And then I painted it.
But it really wasn’t any fun. It was after all just a commission. And when we were to interpret the pictures, there were no great insights for me. Because I had been too focused on restoring the image from my mind rather than play, enjoy the process and let intuition rule.
After a few months the breakthrough came. I decided that I would paint an ugly picture. I gave myself some rules; no bright colors (I love bright colors), only use big brushes, sponge or fingers to paint with. And then I would spray the painting with water, lots of water, so that the paint ran and I had no control over the outcome.
And I had a blast! I played, experimented and was completely present in the moment, following the running paint and feeling (not thinking) where the brush strokes should go. Absolutely wonderful!
The biggest surprise came when I stepped back to see the work. But wait – my painting was not ugly. It wasn’t exactly beautiful, but it most certainly was important. And it was packed with interesting stories. The uncontrolled paint had created stunning landscapes populated by dragons, angels, butterflies, snakes, elephants, Indians and many other creatures who apparently lives its own life in my subconscious mind.
Years later, I’ve actually become quite good at letting go of control and let intuition rule … when I paint. And it slowly rubs off on other areas of my life.
So go play! Let go of control and performance. Let intuition take over and see what happens.