A photographer friend of mine asked me recently why I picked painting as my medium. Simply put, because I love it so! What do I love about painting? To quote a line from Almost Famous (one of my favorite movies): "To begin with, everything."
I put together a short list to explain this admittedly somewhat irrational love:
It can take me longer to mix the perfect color than to actually use it sometimes, and I love every minute of it. There's something supremely satisfying about mixing the most beautiful hues, just so. It's a tactile sensation - especially when the paint is fresh and buttery; a visual thing - creating lush, vivid colors or muted, somber shadows; and a mental puzzle - figuring out which colors to combine to make a specific color, and how that color will change depending on what it is placed next to on the canvas.
Blending is so fun! It's basically softening 2 colors or values together to create a third. You can use it to soften lines together. Most often I find myself with a dark and a light value, then I brush them together to create a medium value that serves as a transition, often between highlights and shadows. This can create the illusion of roundness on a flat surface. I'm still surprised sometimes at what a little blending can add to the painting's overall effect. It really is the little things that make a big difference, and I love paying attention to the details.
CREATING BY HAND
We live in a digital age, and while I love my smart phone, computer and the internet as much as the next person, there's something special about creating by hand. In part, it's the fact that this thing is unique - no one else could make it exactly the same because humans aren't robots. I love having the ability to paint from life, but make adjustments as I see fit - changing the colors, textures, or values to suit the mood or emotion I am trying to evoke. However, nowadays our digital tools are so good that you can do that digitally too, which is partly why this photographer friend posed the question to begin with - why painting?
So there is another element: creating something by hand is physical - it uses your whole body and senses. Even though painting is primarily about your eyes and hands, I also notice the smells - I love the smell of oils, but not of the mediums that go with them - and the tinkling sound as my brush hits the side of jar when I whisk it around in mineral spirits to clean it off. I do try to avoid tasting my oil paints (although I've had some close calls!), as this could be fatal!
You get the idea - painting is both a physical activity and a mental puzzle, and I get immense pleasure out of these exercises. What makes your chosen art form or creative outlet the "bees knees" for you? I'd love to know - leave me a comment below!