Paintings and Journeys / by Leslie

Open Door, 2012

In July and August I took the advanced painting class that Lisa Congdon and Mati McDonough offer called Beyond the Basics. The approach in this class was a little different than in the original Get Your Paint On, instead of doing one painting per week for five weeks, we worked on one or two paintings slowly over the five week period. Each week we completed one stage and built up the canvas as we went.

Rolling Hills and Houses, 2012I hadn't taken a painting class before Get Your Paint On and it hadn't occurred to me to create a painting in stages, slowly building up the layers and carefully refining the shapes and colors as I went. It seems so obvious now, but you know what they say about hindsight. You can see an animated gif of the four stages I took Rolling Hills and Houses through. To see the four stages of Open Door, scroll to the bottom of the post. I love watching them cycle through the stages, to see how they go from rough, washy images to a clear, sharp and solid paintings.

It was so helpful to slow down the process and really take my time. This approach ensures that there is room to make mistakes and fix them as you go along. Paint can always be painted over and the richness that develops as you layer paint is really incredible. I feel like I am finally grasping concepts that will help me illustrate the ideas and scenes in my head and I look forward to continuing to paint.

For these two paintings I wanted to illustrate the idea of being on a journey and to also continue with the house and feather themes from two paintings I made in the first GYPO class. Open Door is a little more obvious and the concept began with the door handle. I modelled it after the door handle in my old room of the house I grew up in. I wondered, what would be inspiring to find behind a door you opened at the beginning of a journey? For me, it would be an old letter from a friend offering advice, a compass to find my way and a feather so I could fly. It's up to you what is inside the box. Maybe an invisibility cloak, or puzzle pieces, or even a sledgehammer. The box contains whatever it is you need on your journey.

In the second painting I wanted to visually represent the six stages I feel like I have passed through in my own life. The small house on the left represents my childhood. The house on the bottom right represents my teen years and has a distorted perspective from the rest of the houses, the next house up with a huge red roof represents my college years that had so much learning and thought. The house with the glowing yellow roof is my amazing time working as a designer in New York City and the house on the top right represents me as a mother. My motherhood house has a small roof but a huge main floor full of love. The last house on the top left is where I am at now. It's the biggest and most balanced of them all.

I'm really happy with them, I feel like I was successful at making these paintings into what I wanted them to be, but I still have that feeling of seeing other paintings and wishing I had made something else instead. Isn't it weird that despite what we accomplish we still wish we had done something more or something different? These paintings are far more colorful than the type of paintings I am drawn too and they feel like they are missing some kind of sophistication or coolness. I don't know, maybe it's my own internal critic but I suppose I simply must keep working. I'm pretty sure that the more paintings I make, the better they will be.

I'd love your feedback. I mean, if you think these paintings suck please don't tell me THAT, but you know, constructive criticism would be awesome. Thanks friends! Your input and support is always so valuable to me.