Working the canvas

I started sketching out and painting my gorilla portrait on Wednesday night.  While I was putting down colours and starting to do the first few layers, I just wasn't feeling it.  It was like I was playing a symphony in the wrong key and being a half beat behind.  I would make a colour choice, put it on my brush and apply it to the painting, and it would look so wrong.  Eventually, I acquiesced to my complete lack of instinct, and called it a night.


So, in case you've ever wondered, I have bad painting days, or projects that seem to elude me.  I went to bed that night, not over thinking the gorilla painting, but allowing it to settle into my subconscious.   My dreams would do the work of figuring out next steps.  The answer arrived, though I don't know when, nor how.  All of a sudden, I saw the path for this particular project and dived right in as soon as I got home at the end of the day on Thursday.

 The key was to start at the eyes and radiate out from there, using a smaller angle brush, establishing the colour palette as I pushed out.  Sure enough, it worked.  Almost immediately I could feel and see the character of the gorilla emerge from the canvas.


You'd think after 340-plus paintings that I would have walked away from one or two.  While I have come close on several occasions, I always seem to push through the difficulties and come out the other side with a finished work that I feel good about.  I look at the completed portrait of the gorilla and I ask myself "How the hell did I do that?"

Trust the process.

Work the canvas.

These are a few of the self-admonitions that run through my brain when I'm struggling with a painting.

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