Monday, July 13, 2009

Process and Palette people

Palette sketches -- the meeting
Palette people
charcoal and acrylic on bond paper
3 x 4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Painting intensely teaches me more about how to
paint, and about what it means to be a painter.
Sometimes I am working out of a core of industry
that I can't even understand once the work is done
and on the easel in front of me. Understanding my
own process helps me do the work I need to do.
So I'm thinking about it now.

How does your process work? Do you shoot out of
bed in the morning, and right to the canvas? That
is not me. I need down time before I begin. I need
coffee, and preferably a novel to read for about an
hour, so when time is tight I get up earlier to have
the time. A lot of painting happens in my head.

Writing teachers always tell you to quit keeping
the ideas in your head and start to write
your thoughts on paper. With painting I'm sure
that writing helps, and drawing does too. To
"keep your hand moving" as Natalie Goldberg
says in Wild Mind, a book on writing, really
does keep your brain clicking over new ideas, and gives
you mental and physical confidence.

Palette people -- two figures in red cloaks
walking their dog.
acrylic and charcoal on bond paper
Barbara Muir © 2009

As for my process. I paint the ground, draw my
image in charcoal usually, and then begin with
the highlights if that's my mood. I work from light
to dark, and the ground is usually the mid tone.
My process involves telling myself I can do it,
then starting. As soon as I start I am in process,
and unconscious of what I'm doing, just
happily aware that I am doing my work.

Palette sketches -- boy in baseball cap,
boy in blue sweater, and fashion girl
acrylic and charcoal on bond
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

After a painting is done I sometimes draw figures in
the last piece of paper I used as a type of palette,
for trying colours out and mixing them before they
went on the canvas. Today I'm showing you some of
these silly drawings on the blobs of paint left on my
paper. It's like finding figures in clouds, with the
distinct advantage of colour. And no I won't be turning
these into big paintings. It's just play.

Have an enjoying-your-own-process day.


laura said...

I love your palette sketches, Barbara--they have the unself-conscious exuberance of children's art: a quality so appealing andone I had thought before now impossible to emulate!

Gwen Bell said...

Another great post! You always have such interesting topics and things to say.
These are so great Barbara. Love their nearly Abstract feel. The boy in the baseball cap is fantastic! I can see that hanging on a wall alongside any "worked" piece of art.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laura,

Thanks -- I don't know if you ever test out colours. I go through large sheets of bond paper trying out and mixing colours for every painting.
So...I sometimes make little people out of them before they go in the recycle bin.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

Thanks so much for the award. That baseball boy would be cool blown up, but right now he's about two inches high, not quite wall material, and in 10 minutes he'll be in the recycle bin, and no more than a memory.

Your support makes me so happy.


Laurel Daniel said...

Play is so good for the soul! Thanks for sharing and for that reminder! (I particularly love that middle one - the colors and shapes... mmmmmmmmmm!) XOXO

Sheila Vaughan said...

These palette sketches are really interesting Barbara. They remind me of the "meditative" charcoal drawings I did some years ago. Interesting to see how bits of yourself still emerge.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laurel,

Play is especially good for the artistic soul meeting constant deadlines. You are so right, so is humour.

I'm glad you like these silly little three second drawings.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Sheila,

True, of course the colour was always
my choice, so the images are meditative -- only quickly so. Like a colur haiku, with a lot less thought.

Take care,


Melinda said...

Wow! I really love these palette sketches. My goodness, you've got another genre available here and you're really great with these. These "silly" paintings are stellar abstracts, even if they won't become larger.

You are art, indeed.

Sharon Hodges said...

found you thru our mutual acquaintance, Julie your palette sketches, especially the boy in the baseball cap. These quick pieces feel so 'free' and quirky, very childlike, wh/ is a quality most of us lose, sadly. I also appreciate your quick-witted writing. I am your newest fan!

Aliaena said...

I absolutely love these quick sketches Barbara! So loose and expressive. Please show us more. I am also fascinated by other artists' processes. Thanks for letting us know more about your's. Best to you. Aliaena

Portrait Artist

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