Backgrounds

angel2.

Backgrounds…creating one can be a boon or a bane to an artist.  Do you create the background first and let the image arise from that?  Or do you begin by painting your subject first and then try to figure out a background to support and enhance the central image?  This painting was all about designing a background first.  As taught by a wonderful artist, Jenny Grant.  PAINT BIG is her way of painting on a large cotton canvas (from a roll) that you later cut into portions and then paint the canvases individually.  You extract a central image from each canvas and embellish it.  Interesting process.  Really!

Creating the background first can be a fun and freeing exercise.  Almost anything goes…except perhaps that you try to use colors that are complementary to one another… or not.  Collage is part of the process as is stamping, mark-making, stenciling, writing, etc.  Once the background is to your liking, you might get an impression of an image that wants to come forward or you might decide to impose an image on the painting.  You don’t typically start off with a subject in mind.  That central figure or image emerges once the background is complete.  This is very much an intuitive process.

Then, there are those who are fearless when it comes to painting a background.  They start with the blank canvas, paint the central image, portrait, figure, whatever it may be. Afterwards, they develop the background around it…again, it could be anything, a complementary or contrasting color, symbols, stenciling, stamping, mark-making, abstractions, etc.

Do I have a preference?  For me, it sometimes depends on what I want to convey.  Creating a background first, in a sense, is easier for me.  The blank canvas is intimidating to many.  And then, sometimes I want the challenge of diving right in to that white of white that is a blank canvas, taking the dare to start there.

Try both and see what your preference is.

As far as this particular painting goes, I was in my painting angels phase.  And they don’t always have to wear white draping garments.  And their wings can be cloaked under a royal purple cape.  I want to stress the freedom to follow your own bliss as an artist.

Enjoy.

2 thoughts on “Backgrounds

  1. Hi Christine,
    Such a great question to think about. On large pieces, I usually spend time creating the background while trying to work intuitively and quickly rather than thinking about it. On small pieces, I usually put the face or figure first.
    I’m interested in doing medium size art that includes collage, stamping, painting, sewing and embellishment. I haven’t quite figured out how to do this yet. I had fun going down the rabbit hole of Jenny Grant’s website. I wanted to see if she had an online class for Paint Big but didn’t see it there.
    I love your ‘cloaked’ angel and her background.
    Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Cathy. Always good to read your comments and to hear how you work with the backgrounds.
    Hmmm. I took Jenny Grant’s Class through one of those Art Bundles many years ago. Other artists
    do a similar technique. I say get out your supplies and let yourself play, have a “field day” and be surprised with what comes. Incorporate whatever pleases you or wherever your intuition guides you.

    Like

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