There is nothing like a bit of pressure to concentrate creative efforts. Over the past couple of weeks I have been working to get two paintings completed for the start of this weekend. As a self-confessed slow painter the pressure of a deadline definitely helps to focus my efforts, and forces me into making creative decisions instead of procrastinating!
One of the paintings that I managed to complete in this time was ‘Camp’ for a friends 30th birthday:
Acrylic on canvas
From initial idea, to putting the last brushstroke on at midnight the day before I had to hand it over, this painting took just over a week to complete. It has done me good to work to this tight deadline; it has stopped me from slipping into my usual tendency to over complicate a composition.
People often ask me how long it takes to complete a painting. For me this is a really difficult question to answer. I tend to start a canvas with a vague idea of what I want to do and let the painting evolve organically as it progresses towards completion. This means that the actual act of putting brush to canvas is a small percentage of the time I actually spend thinking and making decisions about the direction of a piece.
With the time spent thinking, under-painting, and re-layering areas that need to be developed, it is difficult for me to pin-point the exact time I spend on a particular canvas. My studio practice has developed to a stage where I no longer make compositional sketches but completing work intuitively from a basic initial concept.
This often leads to things going wrong and having to be re-thought and over-painted. This goes against the process used during my time as an art student, but is how I now like to work. The battle of trying to rescue an idea that has gone completely wrong to some kind of resolution is part of the fun. It also keeps things interesting and stops me from becoming too complacent.
With the next canvas I start from scratch I am going to try and keep a time-log to work out exactly how much I am spending on a particular piece, and where I can maybe start to streamline this process.
The other painting I completed had been in progress for months, but it was only over the past week or so that I forced myself into battling it to some form of resolution. This canvas is the first one to be completed this year, and holds a particular significance for me. I will aim to share the finished piece in another post this week.