Rules for Painting

I enjoy reading what other artists have to say about painting since I always strive to learn more about the craft, as well as furthering my own growth in self-expression. All artists have their convictions about what should be done…in order to make a painting; what many contemporary painters concur and their work shows it, is that there are no rules in painting. Some of the so-called “rules” that I have come across seem unreasonable e.g.: don’t use white because it dulls the intensity of the hue or, never use the paintbrush to mix paint.

I don’t pay much attention to dogmatic rules but rather, it is observations that point out aspects of the process of painting what most intrigue me. A straightforward statement, like “painting is about putting the right colors next to each other”, seems obvious and simple enough – until you try to apply it…finding that right color; because the color you mix on the palette is going to look different when it is on the painting. So the execution of that principle can lead to a convoluted system of studies and methods to find the ‘right color’ or – you can just take a stab at it.

An artist once stated that her job is to “eliminate clichés”. I pondered this idea and it applies to so many phases of creating a painting. Her incentive to avoid her clichés and myself avoiding mine as well, are going to come from our different viewpoints. I want each of my paintings to keep me interested as I work on them, but I find that my resolutions to problems remain unchanged; while knowing that there are a variety of approaches to my solutions. Finding her Idea insightful will help me incorporate these undiscovered solutions and, in doing so, will keep my fascination with the work.

Another rule that I have adopted as part of my process, is to take time to stand back and look at the painting – look at it a long time. As I paint, all of the art / painting theory goes off into the corner of my mind, because what is happening before me guides my next action and not the rules. So taking time to see where I have gone is important – so as to find out where I am; in standing back, I can see all of my self-imposed rules and all of those that I have broken…all in search of the final expression.

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