Gratitude and Joy in Art Painting

Currently I am taking an online course with Alice Sheridan on using social media. Even though I once knew much about social media channels, things change rapidly these days and I figured I should update my knowledge.

Alice is co-podcaster of Art Juice with Louise Fletcher who I previously took an online course from. Both are expressionist abstract painters using acrylic paint. Not that their medium would matter. It was through these two that I decided to explore abstract painting with acrylics.

With Louise’s online course I learned much about strategies and approaches. So very interesting.

I chose to approach painting abstracts thinking about layers of ephemera.

I attached old newspapers, words cut from magazines and other odd ephermera to my canvas and then painted on the next layer. After sanding the work again… again… and again some of my finished pieces had more than 20 layers. The pieces took not just days or weeks, but some took months to complete.

I learned a lot (but not everything) about my style in painting: I’m an alla prima painter — that is painting the piece all in one go. I don’t really enjoy acrylic paint. It seems too plastic, synthetic, unimaginative and uninspiring. It doesn’t blend like oils or intrigue like wet-in-wet watercolor painting. Except when gelli printing where acrylics are essential.

At some point I felt I’d had enough of painting abstractly and turned my attention to continue my online plein air painting instruction. And there are wonderful instructors.

Eventually, I found myself rebelling over the rules and strategies for better representational painting: draw this box first, paint the negative shapes, draw these lines and measure this amount. So many constructs. Yes, I understand — learn the rules so one day you can break them. But to me the rules seem like Damocle’s sword.

In revolt and looking for the joy I knew must be there in the act of painting, I selected a palette knife, picked out some juicy oil paints and painted freely on an empty, no-lines-drawn, canvas.

And discovered what I really love about painting. The colour! Ah color. Colour — made of hue, value, chroma. Colour. What a joy to mix colors. To apply colour to the canvas. A joy of the moment.

And it was then I knew that I loved painting abstracts alla prima with oil paints, with joy.