The Subconscious Beginnings of a New Idea

I’ve been puttering around in the studio, working on this and that, enjoying a little time to work on my own ideas while the next couple of commissions make some decisions (which size?  Is this picture the one?).  Sure, it slows down the queue a little, but I am always happy to have time to work on what I want to work on.

Wait- what do I want to work on?  I’ve been talking a good game lately about how I’m going to start these plant portraits – close-ups of plants in the style of my dog paintings, zoomed in and maybe from unexpected angles – but, to be honest, I’ve been really stuck on them because I can’t even decide what to paint them on.  My usual canvas on a thick stretcher bar?   A thinner stretcher so I can put them in a cradled frame? What size? Glass?  Board? Old window frames?  My Gestalt style where I use a ton of small canvases in grid format?  Watercolor, gouache, and pen & ink on paper?  I’m really not so good with decisions.  And so I ignored it and plodded along with the couple of paintings I have going… but really, mostly taking way too much time in choosing which podcast to listen to, or check if that person replied to me, or to make sure I entered the Hamilton lottery today.

But, in the back of my mind (you know, those dark recesses that are processing shit you have no idea of?  That, but slightly more conscious), I’ve been thinking about those plant portraits.  What plant should I start with?  Where will I find the time?  What if I don’t actually ever do them, and everyone thinks that’s typical that I just never followed through?  Can I really afford to take time away from commissions?  This is kind of exciting!

And then, as I was either checking Facebook or mixing a new dog-tooth-off-white color (but probably the former), I noticed a canvas that I had started years ago, stacked with a couple of others against the wall.  It was so blue, like a dark sky that appears in one of my plant photos.  Funny that I would have such a blue canvas when I work 99% in browns and blacks and grey and whites.  Whaddaya know.

IMG_4188I pulled it out and saw the outline of a dog painting that I had started years ago, then painted over. Thing is, I had started the background in a sky blue, which had dried, and left the image of a dog standing in anticipation.  I had moved on to a much better composition / canvas for that dog, and so after the background had dried, I painted over the whole thing in a different blue, and left it.  I even used it as a practice canvas to squirt paint on (to get it just so for a shower scene… which sounds really weird for a dog painting) and smear painty brushes.

But the original outline of the dog was still visible, and it suddenly occurred to me that this would (maybe?) be worth investigating as a canvas for a plant portrait.  I do dogs, I do painting, I do herbs.  The visual compilation is intriguing to me.  I started mixing some new blues to blend in over the squirts and smears, while listening to a podcast I had finally decided on.

We’ll see.  It will surely take me another few weeks to decide which plant I want to paint, but in the meantime I have other paintings to work on and some dog coats to sew.  My subconscious will likely figure it out while I’m sewing,

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