The Creative Process


My oil palette


Here is a photo of my oil painting palette. When I open my paint box it’s like I release a genie from its bottle. A crusty resin odour tickles the roof of my mouth. I sense the vapours only once during the long hours of painting, when I open my paint box.

While I’m painting all thoughts fall away. Most days I can’t remember painting until I clean my brushes. Seven hours of painting with short a pause to eat. After fifteen minutes I fall into the process, and deep concentration.

I’ve trained myself to produce. And produce I’ll need to until June because I have sixty-six paintings to paint for an exhibition with Carré d’Artistes. Forty-four are small format and twenty-two are large. I’ll need to paint more than that because I’ve got other galleries to furnish.

It used to be hard to concentrate, my thoughts would fly all over the place and I would stand up, pace around then force myself to sit again, pick up my brushes and work. Sometimes a painting seems off. I know, now, that I have to keep plugging along and lose myself in the process. Turn off my mind. Paint. Or I may put that one aside and work on another.

Some years ago, after holidays and weeks away from my atelier, it would take me months to find my concentration. Over the years, young artists have asked me how do you do it. I know what they mean­­— spend hours alone in your atelier painting. I didn’t know how to respond to that question. Now I do. It’s not a passion, it’s not a desire, it’s a need. Keep me away from my paints and I’ll turn into a witch and burn you with my broom.

If you want to know what colors I use here is a list of the colors from right to left. All pigments are Rembrandt except for one: Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Flesh Tint (Old Holland), Caput Mortuum Violet, Quinacridone, Raw Sienna, Gold Ochre, Greenish Umber, Raw Umber, Ultramarine Deep, Phtalo Green Blue, Ivory Black and Veronese Green.