Remove the Labels

Don’t we just love to label things?.   I asked this of a student just yesterday, reminding her to avoid the tendency to name the things, and the parts of things that we paint.

There are a couple of benefits to this.  First, it leaves your subconscious mind, which is a storehouse of visual symbols, out of the process. Images in one’s memory are always generic and artificial-looking.  First-hand vision is far more authentic and powerful.

Second, it takes the intimidation out of painting those”difficult” things.  The eye can’t tell what is hard nor easy; these are assumptions that the mind throws up whenever we attach a label to something.  Take the labels off and all you’re left with are the true elements of painting, which are BTW, planes, forms, tones, shapes and transitions.  Easy.

See if you can clear your mind as you gaze at your subject.  Put your canvas in another room as you do this.  Don’t think about the work in progress or what you’re going to do next.  You’re doing the most important thing you can do, simply absorbing all of that beautiful stuff in front of you.  If you do this right the work will flow with ease!


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