You know when you’re painting and it just isn’t working out? Then perhaps you get a sudden impulse to do something, make a mark for instance, but your mind stops you saying, “No, no! not a good idea.” I want to encourage you to trust your impulse!
Let me tell you my story of doing just that.
It was while I was working on the 31-in-31 Challenge (our annual October event in the HowToPastel Facebook group). I was visiting family and so didn’t have my easel. (I’m most comfortable working upright at an easel.) Also, I only had a very small set of Unison Colour pastels with me – 16 colours, many of which I definitely would not normally choose!
As a challenge within our Challenge, we were all doing a self portrait on that day. So, I was working small – 6 x 6 in – with a strange mix of colours and flat rather than upright. I decided I could still make it work in spite of the constraints. It’s only colour, values, and shapes on paper after all. So off I went. Well. That it was a struggle is an understatement!
I put colour down. Hmmmm…..it didn’t look good so I wiped it off. I put more colour down. Ugh.
Finally in total frustration, I grabbed a red pastel and slashed it on my lips and over part of the face and hair. And I called it quits and walked away. I had a gut feeling to make the mark. Instead of being held back by rational thought or judgement, I chose to trust the impulse and make the mark.
Let’s have a look at the progression of the piece.
It actually doesn’t look too bad at this point but I wasn’t thrilled with at the time. Probably because I had a certain expectation about the way it should look! This is something that can really trip us up (but that’s for another blog!!). Anyway, I continued….
I’d brushed off much of the pastel but I wasn’t ready to give up. I still had a base of ‘portraiture’ to work on and so I picked up pastels and began to work again. I knew I had to trust my impulse!
And all of a sudden, in the midst of my disappointment, anger, and frustration I suddenly had an impulse. I trusted it. I wanted to declare these emotions in the piece itself and red seemed appropriate as a colour. Red lips yes and also some red marks energetically applied in an unnatural way over part of the hair and face. The colour was nicely echoed in the red shirt and the hints of read by the eyes.
Done. Walk away.
It’s funny because now I wonder why I didn’t like the first impression I had. I’m glad I didn’t though as a) it’s a bit innocuous and b) my frustration presented the opportunity to trust my impulse and just go for it.
At the point where I was fed up with the piece, there was nothing to be lost by taking the risk of trusting my impulse and picking up the red pastel and slash it over the painting. Where the pastel landed was where some gut instinct told me to put it. I just did rather than think. I tested the impulse I had to see what would happen.
In the end, now that I look at the piece, I can see the final version says so much more than a mere outer representation of me would have done. What it has going for it is a powerful sense of emotion which I think is expressed to the viewer.
And so I encourage you to trust your impulse when it arises.
And now I’d LOVE to hear from you. Tell me, do you ever trust your impulse to do something you might not normally do? Can you share a time when you absolutely trusted your impulse?
Until next time,
PS. If you need a little motivation on DOING, have a read (and listen!) of this blog 🙂
PPS. I am delighted to say this painting was juried into the current Pastel Artists Canada (PAC) online show. No link yet but as soon as I have one, you’ll find it here!