Monday, 2 April 2012

Blank canvas *shudder*

Ok, hold on to your socks kiddies, I’m coming clean:
I have trouble starting things.
And by that, I mean that blank canvases freak me out. Seriously. All clean and perfect and unharmed by my intervention?

Literal or metaphorical, blank canvases are potentially the most intimidating things in the world for me. I’m sure it’s my perfectionist tendencies rearing their ugly heads (do tendencies have heads? Man, that’s a whole other post...), but that white, white surface staring at me causes a loss of brain function, a rise in heart rate, and a LOT of procrastinating. I may even be the queen of procrastinating. So far nobody has contested my title, so I might be lying, but bear with me and my imaginings.
Often, with a literal blank canvas I plan to leave the background blank, using the white of the canvas as my backdrop. While it works nicely with my comic-style paintings, it adds undue pressure to me and my brain.
 “Oh my god, don’t mark the canvas, don’t mark the canvas, you’ll have to paint the whole background and no no no I’ve just smudged black everywhere IT’S RUINED I’M A GIANT FAILURE!”

Ah, funtimes.

Once while I was watching this awesome Rolf Harris portrait show (Star Portraits with Rolf Harris, IMDb tells me), one of the artists painted their canvas a bright colour before they started work on it, saying it’s easier to start the actual painting/artwork if you’ve already got paint on the canvas. I’m totally paraphrasing here, but it stuck with me, and if I’m not going for a white-background look I’ll start with the background colour now, and allow it to ease me into the painting. Take that, procrastination!

Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to apply this to metaphorical blank canvases. How do I paint a background colour on life to ease me into something that I could potentially screw up? Is there a way of making life decisions with that pressure looming over your head? Even small ‘canvases’ are hard to mark.

I’m sure someone smart and wise (or silly and wanky, I’m open to anyone) is ready to tell me that life is already a canvas covered in marks and paint and drawings and pictures. But have I gotten the painting to the point where if I make the wrong brushstroke I’ll ruin the progress I’ve made? Or does the painting need a little something to make it even better?

My high school art teacher had a habit of appearing behind people and, armed with a lime green or purple oil pastel, would draw squiggles and highlights and lowlights on their artworks. I was aghast at the time – she TOTALLY ruined their work! – but now I’m thinking she was onto something.

Hmm. Lime green streak through your life, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally following you on this one. Lime green streak through my life, yes!