Sometimes, I work light to dark. Sometimes, I work dark to light. Sometimes, I add and build up a form. Sometimes, I chisel away to discover something inside.
When painting with acrylics, it is best to work dark to light. When painting with watercolors, it’s best to work light to dark. One way, you slowly build. One way, you slowly subtract.
When working with pastels, one can build or subtract. A diverse medium. The same with clay. In the one 3-D design class I took, we worked with clay adding and adding and adding. Slowly building our forms. Then we also took time to carve into our clay, creating a relief. Isn’t that an interesting word? The idea of digging into something, and drawing from deep within it and within you to form a third thing. A thing separate from the original object and the instigator. It’s a relief. Isn’t all of art a relief? At least it is to me. To get what is rattling around in my brain out. Even if it's not articulated well with color or shape. Even if it is the worst rendering in the history of the world, it is still a relief to have it out of me. All of my art is a relief, for the thing struggling in my heart to get out.
All my art is a relief… but isn’t all art a relief? How relieved Frida Kahlo must have felt when she painted the Two Fridas. How exhausting the birthing process of the painting must have been for her. But how free she must have felt to have gotten that form, those shapes, those colors, those lines, that her soul had crafted out of her.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself, when I am working on a piece, on the kind of medium I am working with. I have to remind myself that when I am working with acrylics to work dark to light. To stop, and think before I sling the paint upon the paper or upon the canvas. I have to remind myself, to reach first for the darker tones, rather than the lighter hues. When I am working on a watercolor piece, I must remind myself to reach for the lighter hues and avoid the darker shades till the painting is almost finished. When working with watercolors, I must preserve the purity of the paper at all costs; when working with acrylics, I must build the complexities early in the process and add as much paint as possible early in the process.
I think it’s important to remember that when working on different pieces or phases of life, different approaches must be used. Sometimes we must add. Sometimes we must subtract. Sometimes, we are able to work in an area where both are necessary. Right now in life, I am going through a phase of subtraction: throwing things away and boxing things up. However, in a couple of months, I am going through a phase of addition. I’ll be looking to add new places, new people, new routines, into my life. I think examining our lives as an act of art is a beneficial exercise. What do I need to add? What do I need to subtract? Not only in my art, but also in my creative routines.