Painting is trust. We plant ourselves in front of a canvas, with tools in hand, and colors at our side, and we have faith that at the end of the day/week/month a painting will appear.
Painters study perspective, drawing, color theory, and values. Painters study everything because every bit and morsel of knowledge will, ultimately, provide a small pillar for them to lean on when presented with a blank canvas.
Thus, we begin. Sometimes with a sketch, laying out our plan; sometimes with a still life bursting with fresh fruit and color, or sometimes with a landscape, hot and sunny, in front of our easel. Being oil painters, we may start with thin washes, splashing in darks and shapes. Anticipation and joy fill these first strokes as our vision is fresh and exhilarating.
We refine our composition with more shapes and maybe a light to show us where we’re headed. Then the colors begin to come into play. Questions arise: How to mix? What to mix? Do I want a red truck, blue vase, purple cow? Are my shadows warm/cool? The painting takes on the look of a mosaic. Lights, darks, shapes, colors, trees without shadows, shadows without trees. The initial joy wanes a little, replaced with familiar struggle, grunts, mumbles and squinting.
Yet there is trust. We trust that a painting will emerge from the puzzle before us. There has to be a basic faith in the heart of the artist that the shapes will connect, the forms will appear whole, and, over time, balance will occur. In the middle of this process, there may be precious little more than trust. The artist will see a skeleton of a painting, a fragmented image that stares back at her with a challenge, “Trust in Me; Trust in Yourself; Trust in the Process; Trust in the Paint; Let go of the Outcome.”
Painting after painting will be tossed, “frisbeed”, cut up, painted over. Paint tubes will be squeezed of every drop, and gallons of white depleted. But those who persevere have faith.
We brush and scrape and scratch our way through the paint, the shapes and the endless colors. And if we are very lucky, and the stars align, and if we have been paying just the right amount of attention, but not too much, a painting will be born that we will find acceptable, and maybe even like…over time.
All because we have faith, and trust, that just painting is enough.