Art & Design Magazine

Change One Thing: Change Everything

By Ingrid Christensen

Change Thing: Everything

Pewter and Reds
20 x 16

Progress in painting, there's no such thing! ...One day I went and changed the yellow on my palette. Well, the result was, I floundered for ten years! (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)
The title of my blog is "A Painter's Progress" and, while I've progressed since I began writing it years ago, it's never been a linear progression.  There are nearly as many backward steps as forward ones, and each requires me to stop and reevaluate my process and aesthetic before I can resolve it.  That sounds so optimistic and simplistic.  What actually happens is that good paintings just stop flowing out of my brush, sometimes for weeks on end, and I can't figure out why.  As the paintings keep failing, I keep bashing away at them from different angles: Different subject? Bigger paintings?  Or smaller?  Brighter?  More muted?  Much paint is applied and scraped off.  
It's taken a while to figure out this latest impasse and to discover what's changed in my approach to painting, but I finally nailed it: I'm using a lot more paint and richer colours,  That has changed everything.  The paint consistencies that I had nailed down no longer feel right at this point in my development, which means that I've had to learn a new technique.  It's based firmly in the old one, but it relies less on thin layers and more on big, luscious paint.  And white has been relegated to a less prominent role.  
New work is flowing again, and I find that the intensive, frustrating period of thinking and experimenting has taught me a lot and made me excited to explore new avenues.  It's hard won, and it is progress!
Happy painting!

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