I have been drawing since I was a little kid, so it was natural for me to fall into painting, which is really only drawing with paint. In the beginning, I think all painting artists copy photographs, learning form and color, and then study other artist’s work to gain an understanding of technique, and then seek out artists to learn their ‘secrets.’ For many years I painted portraits and landscapes, constructing images that were aesthetically pleasing, sold well, and were a lot of fun to create.
One day a dear friend said to me, “you should try mixing your paint, sit down in front of a blank canvas, no drawing – and just paint whatever comes to you.” How scary that was! I sat for a couple hours, worried silly that I was going to ruin a perfectly good canvas. At some point, I picked up a brush, swabbed a bit of paint, and touched the canvas… and suddenly the day was over, and I had covered the canvas with the oddest images, somehow all connected and very personal to me. I experienced the strangest feeling of joyful accomplishment, and I really didn’t know where that came from. Or who that came from. This approach has been refined through the years, into a very interesting process; I usually paint wet-into-wet, starting with a stretched canvas covered in dark transparent oil paint.
Since birth, we all seek to know the world and our place in it. We also travel along our own inner journey, rich with feelings and experience, trying to figure out who we are and what we want out of life. For the artist – whether musician, actor, dancer, writer, martial artist or painter, the act of creating and expressing art always involves personal growth, which is accompanied by a growing sense of self-awareness. The painting experience lends itself nicely to this process.
After learning the basics of the craft, the painter’s medium can become a vehicle, enticing the artist to ride along and watch the work progress. While it may be a subtle change, the artist begins to see reality through different eyes after each and every creation. If the artist notices a nice collaboration between the conscious and sub-conscious mind, the act of painting provides an opportunity for this self-awareness and self-revelation to occur, which is the recognition of the deeper connections between the thoughts, emotions, desires, hopes, fears, etc. This Révélateur (French, “The Revealer”) style of painting expression involves a Zen-like approach in technique, where the artist allows themselves to become a witness to the process, and the art actually reveals and documents those connections through imagery. A grand trust is involved with the process, to be sure; relaxing the conscious mind and yielding to the sub-conscious takes practice – it is hard to be allowing, since we associate with our controlling conscious mind so much of our waking time. The benefit, this transformation towards increased awareness, is well worth the effort.
Sharing the art with others is still important, as the expression is not really complete without it; the finished art stands as a marker or testament capturing those moments of revelation. But the artist knows that the method of creating art on the road of transformational self-discovery is truly just as valuable as the finished painting.