Expression > Perfection

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This painting was born out of another paint-over of older work. One thing I love about this process is how much texture and layered details you can start with vs. when you have to build all of that deliciousness from scratch. When you see her up close, there are so many interesting areas of complexity, deconstruction, and beautiful detail.

She’s a great example of how intuitive art meets study and form. As the layers began to build, I could feel her spirit in the painting and see her head and face in my mind’s eye, and this expression was with her from the very beginning. I sketched in her figure with charcoal, intentionally keeping her very raw and unfinished, not sure where I was going to take her.

At some point, I was pretty sure I was headed for another session of starting over. Not yet convinced, I set her aside. I almost never do that once I am in touch with the spirit of a painting…once that connection is made, we are in it together until the finish. After a couple of weeks, I brought her back onto the easel and started messing around a little, not sure if she was going to stay or go. Eventually, it felt clear that she needed to stay, but it took me a while to sort out how.

Here’s what was tripping me up…she does not follow the rules of figurative painting…she is highly imperfect. But she is magically expressive and I was losing sight of that, trying to figure out how to pretty her up.

The daily practice of figure drawing has been so fantastic for my art and my soul; I am loving the process of it so much. It has developed my eye for how things “ought” to look, to see what gives a figure/form life on the canvas. All of this is good…I want better skills…they give me so many more options to create. But in the end, I am an expressive painter, not a realistic one. Emotional expression is one of the foundational elements of my work and I want to be careful not to let academics get in the way of what is needing to be said on the canvas.

This will be a challenge as I move forward with my artwork, especially with those that emerge out of that wild, intuitive place. Blending all of my gifts and my skills together, balancing expression with form, developing as an artist…this is my happy place.

As you can see I decided to keep her as she was: raw, expressive, full of story. Working with lights and darks, I brought her out of the canvas a little bit more and then called her done.


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“the dance of letting go” 22” x 28” on canvas
Available: $595.
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ps: if you want to see more “behind the scenes” in my studio, I will be sending out a video to my email list next month featuring a painting that didn’t work out so well…HA. You can sign up here!