Sunday, 31 March 2013

I, Canvas

Painting has never been a strength of mine; I've always enjoyed drawing with pen and pencil more. Unfortunately, this means I have neglected a huge area of potential development and creative expression. I have done a few paintings but usually only when required or requested to. This will be a fairly brief post about my experience painting on canvas.

I think what has typically held me back from painting is a perceived lack of control. Using a pen or pencil feels more precise to me. A paintbrush, on the other hand, takes a greater degree of practice and finesse to master. While I'm not by any stretch a control freak, if I'm trying to translate an image from my mind to canvas it can be frustrating when it just doesn't work. Whether I can't mix the right colour, or can't get the right mix of paint and water, or the brush bristles don't move as I expected, or the paint looks different when it dries, sometimes it feels like an exercise in futility. I know it just takes a lot more practice but it can be challenging to push through that barrier.

The following is a canvas I painting in my final year of school. Not because I particularly wanted to, but moreso because my art teacher strongly encouraged it. I'm grateful because at school it's important to explore and develop a broad range of skills. You don't learn new things by doing the same thing over and over again. The piece was part of a study of Chinese culture, and represents the general attitude of modern China towards its history. New replaces old in the name of progress, often with little thought to the preservation of historical and cultural icons. The most obvious example is the Great Wall - according to the Great Wall Society of China, 50% has disappeared, 30% is in ruins, and only 20% is considered to be in "reasonable" condition. Sadly, the same can be said of many other countries. Often those championing modernisation and development are far better funded and resourced than those defending history and traditional culture.

Chinese Graffiti

Since then, I've rarely had occasion to paint a canvas. I painted the piece below as a request for a friend of my brother based on essentially no specifications - it was just an idea I had in the back of my mind. I used an actual shoelace to add some depth and dimension.


Despite my previous lack of interest and motivation, I plan to paint more in future. Given how challenging I find it, the end result and feeling of completion are always that much more satisfying. Stay tuned!

Future Directions

This world is but a canvas to our imagination.

Henry David Thoreau

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