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I have a confession…

I have a confession: I talk to my paintings.

It sounds weird I know. But it’s the trick I’ve used to be spontaneous and somewhat unplanned in my art.

I start with an image in my mind. Usually I catch a glimpse of an artwork in that time just between awake and asleep as I’m falling asleep at night. That’s when I know what painting I should work on next. I let that image percolate like coffee in my mind, letting the flavor of the work seep into my mind’s eye.

Usually the image has a clear image, composition or color that I start with. In the case of my Ruth painting I knew what color I wanted her hair and that I wanted big gold stripes behind her. This is a planning sketch:

 

 

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Once I sketch out the painting and complete an underpainting I sit with the work and stare at it. That’s when I’ll ask: what do you want next?

Then I wait.

Sometimes I get an answer immediately, sometimes I sit in front of the work for hours or days before I know what’s next. But if I’m patient and quiet, I always hear an answer.

That’s how I find their names, too. They tell me as I work on them who they are and what they want. One of my anonymous women was clear from the beginning about her name. (I haven’t quite unveiled her yet). She told me her name and to include a big embroidered background from a vintage wallpaper design. Sometimes listening to their requests can get me into a bit trouble: that work has taken me close to 100 hours just on the embroidery alone!

 

This process of talking to my art is a constant reminder to me of why being comfortable in the unknown and unpredictable is worthy of my time.

I’m forced to face the running dialogue of my perfectionist inner critic, who tells me I can’t, I’ll never be good enough, that there is always more to do. Somehow, in the act of asking my artwork for help and listening, that inner critic quiets and I feel great comfort in my imperfect mark making that leads to my finished art.

These Anonymous Women I’m creating have been recently selected to be part of my first solo show, hosted by the city of Ottawa at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Opening reception is Dec 1, 2019. I hope to see you there!

In this story I share my secret trick for spontaneity in my art.

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8 Comments

  1. Linda Ursin on November 13, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t see anything weird in talking to your paintings 🙂 People talk to plants, to themselves, and curse at their car etc. If it works, keep it up. I go more by intuition myself

    • Carrie Brummer on November 13, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      I think a lot of practicing artists wouldn’t find it weird, but I do think people who aren’t makers may be surprised this is a strategy we can employ to harness intuition. Thanks for sharing Linda! And for being a continued support <3

  2. Kathleen Jackson on November 13, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    It takes me a while, to finish a picture I am drawing, I have think about, what’s going to make you feel something when you look at. When I draw a portrait of someone I have to capture the person, in there eyes or something about them.

    • Kathleen Jackson on November 13, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Ok. When I draw a portrait, I try to capture the person something in there eyes 👀 Love your portraits!

    • Carrie Brummer on November 14, 2019 at 10:29 am

      🙂 Nice approach!

      • Kathleen Jackson on November 14, 2019 at 12:45 pm

        Thank you! I like your portraits, because you can almost feel what the person in the portrait is feeling.

  3. Vivienne on November 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Carrie
    What i love about your portraits is the sense of dignity, strength and pride you give to these women.
    In looking at them they remind me of sunflowers and how they turn to the sunlight,

    • Carrie Brummer on November 19, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      You capture the idea so well in words… that’s exactly how I felt about them when I stumbled upon their photographs.

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