Creativity & Shadows

framed abstract oil painting
Shadows, oil on recycled canvas


As I move further and further away from planning my paintings, I find that while I’m painting I focus more and more on color. I want each color to balance and contrast with the others. I want to see subtle brush strokes within each color. I want to see large and small sections of each color. I want to see each color represented an odd number of times (preferably 3). I want the colors to tell a story they way my figures do in other paintings.

But again, there’s no real planning anymore. I add colors as I go, and I don’t really even mix all my paint before I start. One of my teachers in college suggested that mixing all of your colors completely before painting, even days in advance, will help you create a more cohesive work of art.

I tried his way a few times, and it worked out well, but it doesn’t seem to fit my style of painting anymore. I’ll mix a few colors before I start, but as I go I notice new things need to be added and new colors need to be created. If I create my entire color palette before I start there isn’t room for such immediate creativity.

And immediate creativity is my favorite part of painting these days.


In Shadows up above, I don’t think I mixed a single color before I started. In fact, I barely mixed my own colors at all. The red you see came straight from the tube, as did the green and yellow. I did mix my own blues and the oranges, but that didn’t happen until I was partially through with the painting.

It took me forever to give this piece a title. For some reason, I just couldn’t see one. Usually, when I look at my paintings a word or phrase will pop into my head and that’s what I use for the title. This piece was finished for several months before I really noticed the darkness surrounding the bright colors.

It’s great too, because the strange lighting in this photograph really adds to the idea of shadows, as more than 3/4 of the painting is literally hidden in a shadow.


One thought on “Creativity & Shadows

  1. Pingback: What’s in a Name? – KLH art

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