Translating Ideas to a Canvas

I'm always experimenting with new ways to approach a painting. Often I go in with little plan and just respond to what is happening in each layer. Eventually I start to see something or more importantly feel something and the painting evolves in it's own time.

Recently though, I have been starting my paintings with a few parameters. Making deliberate and conscious choices even in the very early layers. Thinking about colour palette and design elements and narrowing the focus from the outset. This is particularly useful for commissioned paintings where it is important to be able to work with a client's needs.

Today, I took it even a step further and made some inspiration swatches for an image that I knew was an important inclusion for a particular painting - a rainbow. You can see below my experiments on paper. These are just small squares, about 12 cm x 12 cm. I spent about 20 minutes just playing around with ideas for creating a loose textured rainbow.


These mini-paintings are really helpful for taking the next step of translating the idea to the big canvas. Below you can see the beginnings of this rainbow on the canvas, there are more layers and textures to be built up and it will eventually be blended in more with the rest of the painting but it's a starting point and I'll play with it for a bit to see if it sticks, or if not, I'll cover it up and try again!

In a previous studio session I created other inspiration swatches with colours and details that I often use in my work. Below you can see me holding up a swatch that reminds me of a starry night. I am thinking about how maybe I could add something similar into this painting. It's helping me to visualise and translate ideas.


I find it helpful in the studio to have things to draw on, it's not often the case that I can stand in-front of a blank canvas and a whole painting will just flow out effortlessly. It happens once in a blue moon like that but if I am honest it's not the norm for me, especially when it comes to my larger paintings. My process involves a lot of painting then pondering. When I am pondering I will often flick through sketchbooks or look back at other paintings I have completed to gather ideas. I'm not a super fast painter and I am okay with that. I enjoy the contemplative moments just as much as the energetic bursts.

Even if I don't use the little mini paintings, they are so fun to create. A really great warm-up exercise. I have a short video here where you can see me creating a little rainbow. Doesn't that just make you want to smoosh some paint around, it certainly makes me excited to head back into the studio tomorrow Xx