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13. Loose "Paint Play" in Abstract Painting

Past: Long, long ago in a faraway galaxy (called my 30’s), I painted furniture in a folk art Sticks-style. I’d lay on the floor or be up on a ladder, painting in all kinds of contorted positions. While it was fun to paint a 3-D object, it was an exacting style.

So, 20 years later, when I stopped teaching and returned to painting, this time I got some instruction and knew, for wherever I was headed, that I wanted to avoid careful paint work. This time, I wanted to play.

Present: Along the way, I’ve grown attached to collage and building distinct textures but I keep returning to the idea of more play and more “painting loose.” So that was my focus for July.

What do I mean by “painting loose?”

Painting with full freedom, without a plan, and without expectations. I mean prioritizing intuitive impulses and spontaneity over analytical thought. For me, that usually happens as soon as I put out a generous amount of paint and grab my largest brush or palette knife to start drag marks and see how the paint breaks. Oh how I love the surprise of what happens!

But I have to admit that it’s not my natural state.

The teacher/coach in me is all about having a plan to achieve an outcome. So to purposely drop control? To purposely NOT plan? To have the process and journey be the point? It sure feels tricky to my brain at times but…

YES– I’ve realized that I can do it (and love it), usually by starting with a few reminders like: “It’s only paint” and “You’ll just do another layer if you don’t like it.” Then I can scoop paint and make sweeping first marks which feels Simply Miraculous. As I continue making moves, sometimes a stray brushstroke or a surprising blend of colors creates magic on the canvas. Loose mark-making– especially on large pieces– changes how I move my body to paint which results in a different style and visual energy! Such fun!

In July play sessions, I made three new pieces that I’m really happy with.

“Flowstone Curtain” was the largest and my favorite simply because of its surprises.

Future: Moving forward, I’m going to continue diving deeper into this “play” element– whatever that feels like from day to day.

I just bought 12 new canvases, waiting in the closet, ready for me to get to work. No, that’s not right. They are ready for me to get playing. ;)

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1 Comment

Ellie Evans
Ellie Evans
Oct 08, 2023

Love Flowstone Curtain!!! So interesting to read how you brainstorm with different painting styles and continue to find ways to grow your skill. Now get back to “playing some more!😄👍

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