It can be hard to explain artistic process. Sometimes when I am out in public, I notice people watching me work. Many ask what I'm going to paint, and when I tell them I have no idea, they seem puzzled. This isn't me trying to be coy, a lot of times when I am sketching at a bar or restaurant, I have no idea what I want to paint. I am typically looking around for the right subject, or scene.. then I try to figure out how I will depict that as a painting. When I go back and review sketch books, or paintings I've completed over the last month or two, I am often surprised at the similarities I notice from one painting to the next. Sometimes, I find a particularly good color for shadows, or I find a couple of colors that really work together. Sometimes I get stuck on a subject (hot sauce, condiments, the Citizen Hotel), sometimes it is a compositional or stylistic similarity.
My sketch books represent my search for works, they act as a journal, or as a means for me to test out ideas. I have been revisiting some of them as I develop pieces for my show at Kitchen 428 and Mojo's Lounge in the month of May. I have two pieces in process and I have yet to start my third piece. I wanted to share some of the 'process' I use when painting in acrylic, so I've used my GoPro to take some timelapse video. I think it is very important to share process, the final manifestation of our efforts (physical artwork) is really just the tip of what we experience when creating a piece. I'd like to share a little more of what goes into my art with you. Please enjoy.
Here is the first and second layers of paint on my first piece for the show, it is entitled Makers II
The GoPro ran out of batteries before as I was working through my third session of the painting, however here is a photo of what it looks like right now. I'm not sure if it's done. I am going to take a look at it tomorrow and make a decision.
I also started the second painting last night, Here is a timelapse. The piece is named 'Vice II', it carries a pretty deep and personal meaning for me. I hope you like it.
Here is a photo after the first layer of paint.
One of our unique skills as a species is to record the environment around us via 'mark-making'. This can be through paint, ink, stick, charcoal, or any other number of media. this skillset is inherent in each and every person, from birth. It has been a part of humanity for countless years, since we were taking burned sticks and writing on the walls of our caves. More recently, as children we all drew pictures, we all scratched images into the dirt with sticks. At some point, we're told we 'aren't that artistic' or we just don't have that 'gift'; I believe this is a lie. Every one of us still possesses the ability to express ourselves visually, in a way that spoken words or writing cannot accommodate.
As a point of inquiry: How many of you draw/sketch/doodle on a regular basis?
I'd guess it is less than a quarter.
We all have it in us, it's natural. we've just been told/taught to suppress it.
This evening, while enjoying a weekly ritual with my cousin I decided to test my theory. I challenged her (she is such a good sport) to draw an object that was right in front of us; this time it happened to be a salt shaker.
Here are her results:
This exercise was completely unexpected for her. It just came to me as we sat, enjoying a pint or two. Her results are quite good, both sketches have their qualities. It is remarkable that given method and time differences, the subject remains recognizable and quite similar.
I also took a shot at the salt shaker:
In my opinion this just goes to show, we have an amazing capacity to express ourselves; my question is: why do we continue to limit ourselves to those methods that we feel most 'comfortable' with?
Get a pad of paper and a pen...draw everything you see, you may surprise yourself.
Chris Holt is an Architect and Artist. His art work centers around cityscapes, still life, and abstract work.