Artist Studio practice*.
Prior to Contemporary Landscape Painting teaching classes at Station Gallery in Whitby Ontario, I give a lot of thought to my process and why I do some of the things I do. I had started recording the process from start to finish with a few short youTube videos to give brief examples of the creative practice I take as I proceed with a new group of paintings.
When in need of new surfaces for work, failed paintings can be a good place to start. Failed paintings are part of every studio practice. Sometimes we spend a great deal of time on a piece and it just doesn’t click in the end. Sometimes a composition can be salvaged, other times it cannot. I work on wood panels, and can sand and resurface failed paintings that have been stacking up over the years in my studio space. It’s a bitter-sweet procedure, but I have only once ever regretted the process of destroying old work that I was dissatisfied with.
Destroying old work can be therapeutic and can help get rough productivity back on track. Sanding a painting takes time and provides a lot of reflection on where I had been with my work at a particular moment creatively. Previous artwork informs new artwork whether it was a success or a total failure.
During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic lockdown days (weeks, months, year…) shops closed, preventing the acquisition of art supplies. Supply chains were disrupted, and became backlogged with increasingly long delays. Ordering art supplies online was unfortunately inefficient. No blame on the Art Supply retailers. Blindsided like most others who scrambled to adjust to a new way of doing business. Avoiding Am*az*n, my first Art Store order took over 3 months to arrive. The second, 2 months. They just weren’t prepared to handle the volume that the giant online retailer had built their business model around. I turned inwards, collected half finished, or abandoned paintings I had, and began sanding them down. My haul was close to a dozen. I got back to work.
The sanded panels were already prepped for oil painting, and simply had layers of oil paint removed. I could usually move forward without re-applying gesso. In fact, I would often just apply a new stain and I was good to go. The moment the old piece is gone, and a fresh surface presents itself, there’s an unusual feeling of calm. It’s a studio cleanup. It’s a re-organization of thinking. It’s moving forward.
Since this isn’t a post about how productive I was during the pandemic. I wasn’t. I painted, yes. But I took my sweet time, resulting in a satisfying but limited creative output. It’s really about studio process. And through the pandemic, how flexible we need(ed) to be as artists to in order to keep productive.
During this time, I have completed some work I’m quite happy with. A couple of commissioned artworks, and some personal paintings based on old family photos I had. Instead of scrambling to produce lots of work and attempt to cut a slice of the hungry consumer market who were moving away from the big box thinking to the original arts and craft makers, I experimented and took risks. It’s all about the growth mindset.
As of this update, the Covid-19 pandemic remains. People are still being hospitalized, and continue to die. This isn’t over, but for now, make art. Stay safe.
I will add new posts as I record my art studio process, but in the meantime – my youTube videos can be found here:
*originally published in August 2018 – updated November 2021.