Painting As Dialogue

Over the last few years, while working to improve my painting skills, I have grown more conscious of my process. In doing so, I sought to make it more efficient; weeding out certain actions in favor of others that serve to improve the overall effort. One of the actions I am working to employ more frequently is stepping away from a painting to gain a greater perspective of the whole. As I worked yesterday, I was thinking of this very thing while putting it into a slightly different context.

I thought about painting as dialogue. Through illustrated relationships of color, content, line, form, and rhythm, I am creating a language. In the past, I perceived that language as a statement to the viewer. If the viewer discovers a connection that attracts their attention, no matter how brief, an interaction has taken place. Taking a step back from that point of view, however, I must acknowledge the conversation that takes place between me and the canvas, before I even share it with anyone else.

My process begins with a concept. I then work to apply that concept to a canvas through paint, but the idea is not fixed from the beginning; there are too many factors- too many color combinations, lines, sessions- preventing clarity to really see a finished painting before I begin it (though I am getting better at it). I therefore look for visual cues from the canvas to help me tell a better story. This is the esoteric nature of art. As I apply the first strokes of paint to the surface, I am initiating a conversation. As any conversation goes, one person speaks to another, but then there must be reciprocity. I need to give my canvas more of that. I must step back and enjoy the process; to listen before reacting. Perhaps sit down and have a cup of coffee, appreciating the ritual before I respond to what I hear. I believe allowing space for this exchange will help me to produce greater work because it fosters a wider perspective.