Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Creative Chaos as a Starting Point in Paint

Most of us are uncomfortable with chaos...we much prefer the ordered, the organized and the expected.  A chaotic assembly or gathering makes me head to the exit or stifle a scream; chaotic jazz music sets my teeth on edge; staring at Jackson Pollock's chaotic drips and massive spills of color make me feel as if the world is closing in on me.

So you can imagine my sense of distress when Andy Braitman's latest workshop was a continuation of exploring the role of chaos in art.  I was so hoping we could slide on by this chapter!

Remember those chaotic beginnings I shared where we mixed oil and water and literally threw them on a canvas creating spatters of different colors?

Here is an initial mix of darks and thrown-on oil spatters.  (I believe I turned it counter clockwise once to start on it.)  I must have spent hours waiting for some "order" to emerge from this mess.

So here is a pass at trying to decide which parts of the chaos are actually interesting and which parts need to be covered up or disguised in some way.
And here is yet another iteration of same piece...still not complete, there is too much sameness on the right hand side but each layer has to dry or at least become tacky before I can go back to work on it again.

So what is the point of this?  It is multi-fold according to Guru Braitman.  When we start when no end in mind we should (theoretically) approach the canvas with a playful spirit.  Too often we (I) am paralyzed by an empty space, anxious that those first marks we make will not be 'perfect' or usable.  Laying down interesting dark shapes and transparent colors and then brightening them with textures and splashes supposedly loosens us up to enormous possibilities we may not have seen before.  There is also the "interesting" factor.  When you look closely at the water above you will see almost to the bottom of the lake: lots of color, reflections, ripples, things I may have been too timid to add at the last sweep for fear of messing up my "perfect" water.

 Loosening up was not easy for me....throwing expensive paint with no idea of what I would do with it?  Play?  This was a difficult concept to get into and I found myself trying to circumvent the routine or second guess where I was going.  Ultimately that proved useless and after a while I was able to lay out a bunch of white, gessoed boards and just get into it.

Did I enjoy the play or decide it was fun?
Sorta ... I think a few more rounds and I might relax enough to let down my guard and throw all I have into it....

 Here's my effort at bringing the above chaos into
an interesting sense of order.

Poor lonely tree called out for some
company as well as a notation
that it was in the foreground.

Please note that these photos are not true to the piece....I was quickly documenting the process for my own notes so did not take the time to make color adjustments or eliminate glare.  I'm liking the composition of this more, however I think the two additional trees feel a tad scrawny compared to the larger one.  That adjustment is relatively easy to make.  The foreground blue bonnets are not as massive as the photo makes them out to be (blue seems to scream when photographed non-professionally). So I think with a little trunk work and growth the additional trees can easily carry the viewer up and to the right while balancing the interesting effect of the gold bank on the right bottom.

So where would you go with this piece?  Is there an interesting section you would
want to attempt to save?

I'm going to continue to explore this concept and do more work on the two pieces I have shared. Hopefully I will have finished paintings to post (and decent photographs!) and additional thoughts on the benefits of starting with chaos.  This learning curve just never seems to plateau!

Chaotically Colorful,


  1. WOW! I love the process with its many surprises, twists, and turns! Can't wait to see more!

  2. WOW! I love the process with its many surprises, twists, and turns! Can't wait to see more!

  3. One of your best blogs yet! I really love seeing the process and comparing it to my own - HAHAHAHA!! Writing down scattered thoughts on a topic, trying to get a logical outline out of them, beefing the outline up with legal citations and analogies, hoping to come up with a persuasive memo or brief. This process for me and what you describe in this blog seem something like the effort of herding cats. As long as you really LIKE cats.

  4. Great blog Cindy.I'm going to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

  5. It is amazing to me how you "see" what you create. I am both impressed and perplexed! Is it a waiting game to see what emerges? Or do you see it pretty much right away? It would take me decades! Thanks for educating us, Cindy!

  6. Yes! SwanAttorney, this kind of painting and writing are very similar...random thoughts sorta related and then the mega effort of pulling it all together. Great observation. And ArtsyMatilda, hmmm, some of each, sometimes I know what I am looking for (a gut) and other times it takes hours and days before anything grabs me. thats the risk, I guess if you time average its ok but some pieces sit forever! I'm still exploring the method.


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