I think I mentioned before somewhere that I recently had an artpiphany about my own personal art process, and the kind of paintings I want to be making now. {I have New Year Brain, which is an official thing that happens when you get too excited about all the newness and possibility and can’t think straight or remember anything.}

This painting I’m sharing today is the first one I’ve done on canvas since that realisation that really reflects what I envisioned. At the same time it feels like a step onto the base of an enormously tall mountain; it’s the right direction, but I know I have things to learn before I feel I’ve really embodied it. The main point is, it feels really good. That’s the key. I know this is right because I feel it.

You can see from the photos that it started as a triptych, and may still be one by the end, but I finished this particular canvas first. I picked colours I love ~ aqua, blue, Paynes Grey, Naples yellow, and gesso, and that’s really all I used although I mixed them together in all kinds of different ways to get lovely soft shades as well as using the individual colours.


I basically kept painting the three canvases together, moving between them with each colour adding shapes and a few lines, whatever felt good. Then I got stuck and had to take advice, which led me to turning the canvases, adding different types of marks and looking for shapes I wanted to pull out. {I know all this, I just forget. And I can’t even blame New Year Brain on that as it happens year round.} And then I decided to just focus on one, since I had an idea for it.

I could see a figure; initially I recklessly thought I’d do it from my imagination, but that was a disaster {see two images up}, and also the point at which I realised that I will from now 0n always use a reference image when painting the figure. In this case, I found an extremely simple line drawing from life drawing classes I used to take, and worked from that. In the image above you can see how I reworked the disaster figure by painting in a rough ‘sketch’ of the shape I wanted, taken from the pencil drawing.

It felt so much better, and I purposely distorted it as that’s a feature I really like to play with in figurative paintings. I also included other things I love doing, like drawing into the paint with the other end of the paintbrush, and I just kept going, making marks and building up areas of colour. I had to work and rework the background, but all those layers contributed to the whole, and I’m so happy with the final result.  I called her Lavender.

Lavender by Tara Leaver


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