An artist has a process of art.  The ‘how I do what I do’.  I will try not to dress it up too much as it can get a bit wordy…and I like words.

What is process (for those who don’t know)? Ideas, technical proficiency, tenacity, vision, and basically getting something down on paper or whatever it is that says yeah, thats what I was after.  I think.  But maybe…and then off you go again.

Art is never finished, but it does come to a point where there is a decreasing amount you can do to something to make it closer to your vision. One of the problems is there always seems to be a sense that there are more colours that exist than exist in the real world.

My process of art

For years I haven’t really thought about ‘process’. Whether that is a  good thing or not I don’t know.  I seem to just create intuitively. But then again, it is important, because one thing it can do is to get you unstuck when you are stuck. If you don’t have ‘the muse’ for the moment then you can dry as an artist and just stop.  As a not starving artist, and someone who is determined to prove my school teachers wrong that people can’t live off being an artist, you can’t rely on those muse moments.

Ok, so I DO get muse moments.  A thought will strike me, or an idea, but not all the time.

I don’t use just one process either. So excuse me whilst I just witter on for a time.

1.Process of art: the doodle

Often in meetings. Or maybe in sermons when I am drawing in church. I get the first noodling of an idea. A door, a tree. An interesting shape. And I draw it with my faithful Carbon platinum drawing pen.  Which always gives me another idea. Sometimes these pictures get perspective, sometimes they don’t. i just like to tie the pictures together like a jigsaw puzzle, and tell some sort of a story.  I really enjoy creating A3 size pieces and using various ink render texturing methods.  At some point I will do a Udemy course to show how I do this

2. Process of art: paint

From my digital illustration days really. Put different thin layers of paint on a canvas or board…stare at it…it’s like seeing things when staring at clouds. There it is, what I want. And I just bring that thing into reality.

3. Process of art: texture.

Only just developed this one, pretty much by accident.  Usually on canvas I will use gesso. That’s primer for canvas, and put that roughly onto the canvas, then as it dries use my knife to carve shapes and peaks.  Sometimes I will have an idea (see below) and sometimes just go for it. I need to get hold of some texture paste and push this idea to it’s limit.  After this all dries I glaze on acrylic paint, and the pigment gathers in the textures. again, I will enhance that and build it up.

4. Process of art and Dreaming…

Now is where it starts to get a bit all arty.  I don’t know whether it is because I have something of an Aspergers brain, but I am, on the Myers Briggs scale, fully intuitive and extrovert. I have learn’t over the years to just about not fall asleep. I can drop myself down to a point where I can dream and control my dream but not be quite asleep. I also struggled with nightmares for much of my childhood, and even now I dream very vividly and can remember my dreams. I learnt to cope with the nightmares by using a very unusual technique…

I asked myself while I was awake, am I asleep? And replied, if I am asleep, then I can control my dream.  Do that ten times a day, and it gets into your subconscious, so that it will reappear when you sleep.  Eventually I could control my dreams.

So you put those together – half falling asleep, intuition, and dream control – and you get a stupidly potent dream world.

Yeah…ulp!

Dropping into the dream world

So, this is what I do. I pose a question. If I need to solve an artistic problem, or even illustrate a picture for a client, I will use this method.  I will drop into my dream world.

Think the white room in The Matrix and you will get the idea of what I can do.

Really useful too. I can use all those colours that don’t exist. I can jump into fine detail. I can zoom right out. I can even design it in 3d…

This is a really really cheap method of trying out ideas to see if they work. Probably why I never ended up at college doing an art course. Too slow and boring.  Recording every single step of every exploration…I do it in my head. (apparently there was an animator at Disney who sat for days musing seemingly doing nothing then would nail the animation in one go rather than fiddling around).

Not as hard as you might think, because there is tons of evidence worked on by clever people in white coats that say that those people who practice things in their heads are able to achieve at least as well if not better than those who practice for real!  Ok, so there is something about having to get the practice in, the muscle memory and learning and so on. But they experimented with kids learning violin and, I seem to remember, basket ball players. It’s called visualisation…I think we are supposed to drop into a different state of mind. Perhaps that’s what happens when I catch myself on the edge of sleeping? So they visualise in this state their violin, or maybe scoring basket ball hoops. In the control group they do it for real. And those who imagine it do better. Why? Because they are visualising ONLY the success. Whereas the other group are also experiencing the failure. Anyway, works for me!

It gets worse (worse, as in I will sound even more strange…). You see, as soon as I start painting, whether it be in my head or for real, I see story happening in front of me.  I almost exist in the painting even as I know I am painting it. I will know the story that comes before and the story after. The image actually moves in front of me and I am simply capturing it. I was painting and imaginary picture of a town some time ago, and I knew the lives of each person who lived there, and the trains that moved on the mono rail through the air, and how it was created…   Sometimes I can ‘feel’ an object in my mind….it sits a couple of inches just behind my eyes. I know when it’s about to get there and that feeling is about to happen because I catch myself tilting my head on one side.  Maybe that’s when the muse hits…

5. Process of art: print

Not giclee. no, not giclee.  Woodblock. Not even lino, though they are related.  I will speak elsewhere about my love of wood and why I haven’t even tried lino. My instinct was born out on my most recent print of a panda mum and her cub.

There is something about wood. The smell, the difficulty. And I can get blocks larger. The tools: using Japanese knives feels so cool, and being able to sharpen them on a Japanese waterstone.  But I’ve kept fighting with the ink and the printing process.  The last one it finally broke…I got the formula right for the way to stop the wood splintering as I carved. And I discovered how to get the very fine woodgrain to print…which may be related to the formula I discovered to solve the wood splintering issue!

Just recently I have also been experimenting with using cyan, magenta, yellow and black and overlaying them as colours.  It is creating a much tighter print.

6. Choosing the media!!

Sorry, no real clue here.  Apart from the print. I choose print because I can then create affordable and original art. And I love the idea of design and decoration which print captures. I may choose to do something digitally.  Quite often I will create a reference sheet and colours and do some research to get ideas ready for the dream stage.  Saturating my mind in the images.  I will then keep those to hand. I may do a pencil drawing and then scan it into photoshop, then use the eyedropper tool to try out colours from my reference images. I might create a greyscale image that is then colourised in photoshop. I will choose the medium in which to work instinctively more than anything else. What do I fancy working with? What will pull it off the best.  I might even start in one thing and then move to another when it isn’t working out.

For everything else I may choose to do something digitally.  Quite often I will create a reference sheet and colours and do some research to get ideas ready for the dream stage.  Saturating my mind in the images.  I will then keep those to hand. I may do a pencil drawing and then scan it into photoshop, then use the eyedropper tool to try out colours from my reference images. I might create a greyscale image that is then colourised in photoshop. I will choose the medium in which to work instinctively more than anything else. What do I fancy working with? What will pull it off the best.  I might even start in one thing and then move to another when it isn’t working out.

Hope all that helps!