I ended up with the too-long canvas stretchers because of previous projects that did not push through. I got over-excited and bought the materials before the supposed clients confirmed the commissions. So for a long time I had these half-ready canvases languishing in my storage gathering dust.
A few weeks ago I was in a frenzy of setting up the art shop to pull in some extra income while I wait for dayjob projects to save the day (or month, preferably). I felt cornered. And then I saw the stack of large empty canvases. I needed to tip the "balance" inside me so that the world felt less like about just paying bills and more about making contributions to everlastingness.
I took the smaller of the two -- the 30 x 30 inches. It stayed blank on my easel for a few days while I waited for the picture to emerge. It goes like this -- I repeatedly trace the space in my mind, all that blankness open and contained at the same time. Then I start to see whispers of lines, appearing and disappearing. Every time I would glance at the canvas, look at it, think of it, the lines flicker like the noise on an old film. Then at some point there will be fleeting bursts of full shapes and colours, fragmented pieces, still incoherent. All this time I would be feeding myself images from the made-up forest in my head where I take a long walk every day and every night. Then the pieces start to fall into place, start to connect to one another.
When I have a semi-solid image in my mind that is when I pick up the pencil to make soft lines. I complete the sketch on the canvas, filling in the blanks that my imagination left open-ended. When the lines feel right then I start to paint.
While painting there are still things that could change. Small ones but may also be significant. Colour selection must be done with the same care a cook will blend flavours. The decision to add other materials such as ephemera and sparkly objects is often a spontaneous one and yet also a carefully weighed choice. As I progress through a piece I make a lot of experiments and improvisations. I occasionally make mistakes but not that often really. Once I start putting on the paint, the picture is more or less complete in my head already, and it is akin to taking down a dictation from the Muse, to put it one way. It is clean smooth line of inspiration, which I think is helped by my own clarity with the kind of art I want to make, and the images I want to manifest. It was a short process for me to accept my own style because if I dithered on that I would never have gotten anywhere at all. I am self-taught, without any formal training, and I have limited materials. If my own mind will criticise my artwork above all that then there would be no point.
So I worked on the big piece. My main challenge was whether I could manage to expand myself that much. Would I have enough to "show" on all that blank space?
It turns out I do. I did feel the stretch as I worked on this big piece but it was a good kind of stretch. It means I can do more. It means more possibilities.
I received quite a few inquiries on the piece after I posted its finished state. I've worked out a price but I've decided to hold on it for a while until the dust settles a little bit more on the art shop opening and all that. I also need to be very certain with my shipping arrangements because I do not need the added stress of delayed or missing deliveries.
So here's a visual process of the painting that I have named "Sabine". (All my artworks have female names based on saints, goddesses, mythical creatures, book characters, and the like, that resonate with me in one way or another.)