How to start a new painting

How to start a new painting?

The other day a friend visited me to have a talk and some demonstrations for painting. My friend loves art and wants to give it a try for herself. She has seen a lot and has a taste for art. But she has nearly no experience with using a brush. One of her questions was: How do you start a new panting?
Actually a good question and a difficult answer.

How to jump on a white canvas?

Starting a new painting is always somehow exiting – at least for me. I never know where this journey will lead me to – and seldom I make plans which I then will not follow. In the end my start is always fed by the impulse of the moment. The most I have in mind is a color direction. Maybe there is even a theme deep back in my more unconscious brain.

There are many ways to start. I paint it black – literally. Or I take another color. I use up the colors of my palette to make bold marks. I see something and paint it with black marker onto the canvas – knowing it will take some effort to get rid of it again. But that’s what I do it for. I create a lot of ground layers and challenges that will force me to leave my habits.

Warming up

My head has been occupied lately by a lot of technical stuff. I find it difficult to switch back into the realm of creativity. Today finally I got the hang of it. I jumped over my cautious voice in my head that whispered “better start with a smaller canvas” and took the largest canvas available in my collection here in the studio.

How do you manage to come back to painting after a longer brake?

My helper on the way away from reorganizing my website since weeks back to my colors was this week a teaser course called “Find your joy” (in painting) by Louise Fletcher. She is a wonderful teacher and calls herself a messy painter – something I feel very related to.

The last exercise of this week she offered was a reduction in the use of color and movements but a diversity in using different tools. I did this on paper – nice warming up exercise.

Doing this exercise with the small paintings was a good start into the day. It helped me, not to postpone my the beginning of a new painting to another day. Suddenly this little exercise opened up a new the road to “how to start a new painting on a larger canvas”. So again, a surprise for myself about how I start a painting.

Image starting a new painting
Starting a new painting 5

This is where the canvas is now. I wouldn’t call it a painting. But: this is something as there is something. First steps are done. We will see where it goes from here, everything is possible!


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You are interested to read more about my starting experiences? About my beginnings with painting? Here in “how to start an abstract painting” you find more detailed answers about my artist journey.

Visit my website to get more information
www.artgoppellandhampel.com

If you want to find your joy in painting, there is an opportunity coming up!

Louise Fletcher starts a new “Find your joy” course end of this month (June 2020). It last 10 weeks and I am pretty sure it is worth the time and the money. If you want to learn more about it, you find the information by clicking “Find your joy”.

A large painting as work in progress

How to start an abstract painting


An artist friend asked me the other day: How do you start an abstract painting? I didn’t give her an answer yet. Now here is a series of photos that may tell a part of the story. But it is the story of these particular works. It may be quite different with other paintings I do or how others artists design their process. There are so many ways to start a new painting. Not all ways are invented by now.

How do I start an abstract painting?

When I was starting my painters journey about 20 years ago – after some very few lessons in working figurative – I was so lucky to visit a painting workshop by an Austrian artist. Her name was Fria Elften-Frenken. She lived in a beautiful kind of farmhouse on the Neusiedler Lake. She had studied in the academy of fine arts, Vienna and was well known. One of her remembered sentences was: “It took years to forget about what I learned and to start doing my own art.” Consequently she would provide us with materials but not with lessons and ideas. She was always ready to consult when we were stuck. But we had to find our own way.

I am lucky that I had this kind of start. That was what I was looking for in art. It is this kind of freedom. It allows you to do what you want. In a way, there is no right and wrong. If it is appreciated by others is a second questions. Art is a lot about expressing yourself. Of course there are many of things to be learned. About ways you can take, materials you can use and thousand other things. But what you do, how you get there and what result comes out of it, that is your own art.

At the beginning another sentence was in my head about something artists experience: “the angst of the white canvas”. I don’t know where I had heard it and why it stuck in my head. But influenced the steps I took. My very first act in that lovely farmhouse garden was „to paint it black“. No more angst of white canvas that might have ask for perfection. From this move I learned a lot!

70 way – no, some ways – to start an abstract painting

One beginning is to start with paint that has been left over from another painting. I turn the painting, to change perspective and to build a new harmony from another angel. This helps me to open up my view and to leave ideas that occur too early. I make a photo to see it from a greater distance, to see what is strong and what is weak. Sometimes I take a larger brush and some paint and close my eyes before I make a bold movement. This way new discussion point is evolving. Something new has to be handled. A new crossing on my way to somewhere.

What really matters at the beginning

Now I use many different ways to start a painting. However most important for me at the start is to do what ever my body and my intuition is telling me. Brain is stopped, judging is stopped, its just acting out what comes to me. With my black canvas I learned that everything is possible. You can turn a black canvas back to a white one. Nearly every mistake will be forgiven and can be a starting point for a new fascinating move.

As an example the featured three paintings are rather “straight forward” . Others undergo much more dramatic transformation. Look here to find out how that looks like: Wonder of transformation – from old to new!

When to finish an abstract painting ?

Great question, not only mine: how do I know that an abstract painting is finished. That’s another question to reflect about. But not today!

I hope you liked the little insight into my painting practice! Would be lovely to get some feedback!

Now after all see here the rather full process of the development of a painting. For large paintings like this one (160×140 cm) I like to build the frame myself and prepare all the steps. It feels like I am already building a relationship with the painting to come. My energy and my attention is already familiar with the canvas. There is a lot of magic in painting. What is your experience?

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This is a new start. I wonder what comes next! Find out and stay tuned!