Saturday, 9 March 2013

Comfort zones

The last commission of 2011
Acrylic on Canvas
100 x 120 cm

This is one of the best paintings I've made to date. My sister-in-law commissioned it for a transition wall between her kitchen and dining room. If it had not been a commission it would not have looked like this. At the stage I painted it, I was still very much into open negative space - probably the lone remnant of my 2 years studying graphic design - and my backgrounds were light gray. Still are, for the most part. I would never zoom in like this, with so many types of fruit in one work. But the vibrance and colour of this composition really captures my sis-in-law's personality, she is a tiny bombshell of energy, and I had to capture some of that in the painting.

Also, and this will sound silly, but oranges, yellows and greens are not my favourite colours to paint with. Mainly because they are harder to shade.To create interesting tones you don't just want to darken everything with brown or black, it's too dull, you use reds and blues. For instance in the case of the green peach and the apple in the painting, blues would look out of place, so you need to find a strange in-between balance between greens and browns, blues and blacks. Similarly, everything orange cant simply turn maroon or purple when they darken, and yellows shouldn't turn brown - especially when most of my brown paints have blue undertones, which just turns everything a swampy green.
So one of the reasons this painting turned out so well, is that I really had to go back to basics, and I had to re-learn many of my ideas about colour. Painting is about looking, the better you learn to see, the better you can paint, the more detail and shades of colour you see, the more you can add, and the better your paintings can ultimately be. I had to stop and step out of my stylistic comfort zone, and figure out ways to make it work.

The bottom line is this: know when to step out of your comfort zone, and use it to grow as an artist, if you fail, you fail, but even through that failure you will probably have learned a lot about yourself and your skills. Chances are you won't fail though, and in that lies the magic.


  1. Your posts are interesting and your paintings are really great!

  2. Thanks Mary! Much appreciated on a slow day :)