"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
- Emile Zola
Not sure why it is so hard to remember, at the start of each painting, what a challenge the process is - how much work is involved in bringing one into being - how often a reminder is necessary to keep the faith that it will evolve into something, with persistence, even when there are doubts.
This painting was no exception.
This was how it started. A coat of gesso on a wood panel 18" X 24" X 2". Then, in an attempt to force a strong focal point, a layer of tissue was applied, using gel medium, within the outline of a bird shape. At first the bird was black on a white background, then it changed color a number of times.
Realizing that the bird shape was just too restricting, not allowing for the build up of layers in the background, the hardened tissue was joyfully scraped off - a very physical and satisfying activity!
The surface was sanded, but not down to the wood, leaving some of the texture.
A new layer of gesso was applied...
...making a yummy image of white with all kinds of hidden treasures. This is when the painting really started to talk back. One thing it said was that it wanted to be horizontal.
Within the texture of the white surface, lines and shapes suggested areas for color and enhancement. The familiar boat/pod shape showed up. So far, we have acrylic, charcoal and watercolor.
(This is about the stage when the temptation is to paint over the whole thing with gesso again and start over - the trouble with that is this - the painting will reach a point, again, when the temptation is to paint over the whole thing with gesso and start over, over and over. So, it is more productive to stick with it, push through the inertia, and see what happens.)
More charcoal, then paper cut out and glued on the left edge, in flag-like shapes. The paper was created by layering a Rumi poem called 'Guest House' over a print of a previous painting.
More details sought out and emphasized. White charcoal trees in the blue area, black charcoal trees on the white - a little house.
In the finished painting, the landscape aspect is colored in with gold/brown acrylic wash. Chalk and oil pastels are used to strengthen areas. Another paper collage piece is added to top right corner. More teeny details just for fun and to encourage exploration!