In addition to my abstract #100 day project, I’m exploring something called process painting, which, as you may imagine from the name, is all about the process of painting and not the end result. The end product is irrelevant.
I’ve done a lot of intuitive painting in my time, beginning without intention and seeing what evolves as I paint, then developing shapes, faces or figures as they emerge, but inuitive process painting is quite different. The little I know about it so far and the reason I decided to try it is from watching this great interview with artists Patty Ripley and Louise Fletcher.
As I understand and interpret it, the idea is to paint what you don’t know you know: what you are not consciously aware of, by paying attention to signals from the energy of your body.
The way to go about this is to first get yourself as large a piece of paper as you have and pull out an assortment of things to make marks with. Paint, charcoal, pastels, markers, crayons, whatever you have. I used fairly lightweight drawing paper and cheap kid’s tempera paints because I wanted to be able to work spontaneously and not get precious about the end result. Taping your paper to a board or table will help you stay in the moment and not worry about it sliding around as you work.
Then take a few minutes to center and settle. Quiet yourself, meditate, connect to the earth and cosmos, whatever you want to call it. I saw it recommended that you do not listen to music while doing this because, as we know, music profoundly influences our emotions and mood and we want to pay close attention to what is. I usually work without music in my studio for precisely this reason.
the idea is that you will paint what you don’t know you know
So, then you start. Feel the kind of energy your body is experiencing and pick up whichever tool or medium calls your attention, make the motions, mark the marks, until you feel that energy dissipate. Like, “Yeah, it felt good to make those sweeping, dark heavy charcoal lines, but I’m over that now, whew.” And then move on to the next thing. You’re done when you have nothing left to say.
My paintings turned out very abstract, but there’s nothing to say you can’t put a boat, or a person or flowers in your painting: it’s all about you. We use symbols (like a lollipop tree or a stick figure, even) to quickly represent an idea and there’s nothing wrong with that.
As an artist, it was hard for me to abandon the things I know make a good picture.
Composition went out the window as did harmonious colors and any sense of making my painting pleasing to the eye.
It’s all about the experience and the freedom to let it happen as the body energy and subconscious mind will it.
Really tough for a control freak such as I. But I got there. And it felt great. I felt four years old again, before I realized the sky was supposed to be only blue.
The last bit about process painting is that the paintings are just for you; not meant to be shown, or critiqued, or commented on, but I’m showing these few to you for a couple reasons: First, I want to be brave enough to show you things that I might feel are ugly (and, boy, do I feel like this last image is Ugly). Secondly, I want you give it a try yourself and then have a conversation with me about the process. I hope you give it a go.
Thanks for this post. Sometimes in the writing process I just write stream of consciousness words - they don't have to make sense and there's little or no punctuation - just randomness. Sometimes it morphs into order, sometimes not. Is this similar to your process here?
i still dont quite understand difference between intuitive and process painting............i feel that i always paint this way with no known end..............have been in a slump, but keep hoping to come out of it.............love doing little taped paintings..............