Seasonal Surprise begins outdoors, during a Free Friday session on the American River Parkway. However, location means little, as this painting could begin anywhere, in any environment, any town or city, be it indoors or outdoors. In this case, stimulus is provided by just being outdoors, the smell of fresh air, birds singing, ducks quacking; no distractions of yard work, things to do, promotion, places to go, people to see, marketing, taxes, Facebook posts, tweets, television, etc.
The creative approach is to begin a loose, non-objective composition, using a large, flat, brush on 140 pound paper. The main elements of concern are shape, value, and color. I paint quickly, without over thinking the process in attempting to make interesting marks on the surface while keeping options open. After some time passes, the painting is set aside to dry and work begins on another watercolor. Seasonal Surprise leaves the parkway in an unfinished state.
Next comes a period of evaluation in the studio. I consider possible options. This process can take minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. It is not a non stop, start to finish approach. Eventually, shapes are laid on top of shapes. Do I stay the course toward a totally non-objective approach, or do I push the painting toward recognizable subject matter? Time will tell.
Gradually, a direction emerges. Surprise! Possible subject matter begins to evolve. I see an interesting, colorful composition, perhaps an impression suggesting an arrangement of flowers bathed in sunlight? Now, it is just a matter of pushing it in the right direction, not over doing it, and of course – as always – the hard part of knowing when to quit.