Time for another romp through the process of a painting! This one is called ‘It’s simpler this way’, which is a little play on words that amuses me. {I do a lot of little things that amuse me that no one knows about – keeps life interesting.}

This one was inspired by a Pinterest image. The original had a boat, but I decided to leave that out as it felt like too many elements and I wanted the foreground to be the only focal point.

So here I am roughly mapping out the composition. This was an old painting I gessoed over; you can see there is a collage layer beneath that includes a doily. I don’t often specifically use collage these days but on my older mixed media paintings that I paint over it’s nice to have this additional textured layer.


Which doesn’t prevent me adding more – I’ve always loved sgraffito and lately can’t seem to not do it on all my paintings. I just use the other end of the paintbrush. I really enjoy how it shows what’s beneath and also how the charcoal sits on/in it.


I love the pop of lime/chartreuse green – that’s been showing up in a few paintings lately too.


The other favourite thing is to go in with charcoal, especially while the paint’s still wet.


Then it was time for a coffee break. I recently brought up one of my old wicker chairs to the studio and it’s been quite a revelation. I just sit there, kick back and contemplate the current painting{s}.

coffee break

The break lasted a few days in the end. {Obviously I didn’t sit in the chair that whole time.} I really liked the painting but knew it wasn’t finished, and because I liked it so much was a bit scared to do anything further. This happens a lot. #artistproblems

When I finally got back to it a few days later the top half of the painting was not working at all. In the end I got cross and went over the whole thing with vigour {and some off-white paint}. I thought, maybe if I can neutralise it it’ll become clearer what needs to go there. Even though I knew it was risky because I’d lose the layers of colours that kept the whole thing cohesive. Oh well.


I just kept adding thick globs of white and smooshing it about like this:


And then I was like, wait a minute. I think I really like this. So I stopped and let it sit for a while. And lo, I DO really like it. And so did some other people, which was nice. I called it ‘It’s simpler this way’ because

a} with the added gesso it is, literally {I know, hilarious}

b} it’s part of this new series of works that are based in a personal life dream that seems to be coming through symbolically in paintings since this year started


c} the painting itself suggests that beyond the foreground things are a lot simpler, which feels like an interesting idea

And so today’s lesson: sometimes getting really cross and taking drastic action leads to finished paintings you unexpectedly love. Be bold my friends! Take risks.

It's Simpler This Way // Tara Leaver

It’s Simpler This Way // Tara Leaver