From Blank Canvas to Finished Painting

I have decided to document the development of a painting from blank canvas to its closure. There is no guarantee that it will be either a long process or a short one. This is the case because I work with the element of chance by creating accidental applications of paint in a variety of ways. I can’t predict when an accidental form is going to move the painting forward and when it will set the painting back. The goal is to bring the finished work into a balance between the accidental marks and my responding adjustments.

The Canvas is linen on stretchers 44” x 68”. To give it scale I have included a 24” ruler.
The canvas is placed on the floor and then wads of cloth are positioned under it to affect the way the paint will flow as it begins to find its own level.


The first mark (dark blue-grey surge) was tossed from a cup. The others were watery paints applied with a glue applicator.

While the spilling of paint puts the marks out of my control, I can affect the direction and force of the spill. After applying the brown color I preferred the composition when viewed at 180 degrees from the first step. This reorientation will happen many times as the painting progresses.

I have inverted the image at this stage. The ochre surge/ splash was administered from the opposite direction of the canvas as that of the blue/grey splash. This shape spreading upward offers support to the brown oval form previously created. The marks on the canvas are regarded subliminally as elements that respond to gravity. The dynamics are affected by where one chooses to locate gravity. For this reason, I rotate the canvas as I work on it. There is tension in the image when “objects” are seen to be lifting away from gravity.


When the image is oriented towards the drips at the top, there appears a face that I felt would get in the way of the expression that I was after.


So I painted it out with white paint. I continued to remove other elements with the white paint and, when I was done, I felt that the image was stronger as a horizontal. There seems to be a force that enters from the right and pushes against the left edge.


White in a painting offers an uplifting feeling. Filling it with color risks losing the expression that one is after. One of my regular steps in the process of growing the painting is to deliberately do something contrary to what I believe is the “right way” to precede. The white areas of one edge of the painting have been filled with two colors that are not particularly exceptional.

This step will give me a challenge to keep the spirit of the first few steps without introducing “detracting elements”. Because every color has the potential to be a contributor to the beauty of the work, I will also be challenged to find colors that enhance the character of the new additions. Challenges create new discoveries.

At this stage the painting looks equally interesting from all four sides.


Lines of force are introduced that drive upwards from the lower right corner.


I have glazed an ochre tone over  major areas of the canvas which reduces the  intensity of the lines and unifies the various elements of the painting.


I have been away from the studio for more than a week. There have been two stages that I did not record- one stage just before I left and one just after I returned.

In the 9th stage, I painted a translucent white over all of the ochre areas in order to “open up” the space and light of the image.

In the 10th stage , I glazed a light cobalt blue over the white areas.

The 11th stage contains a set of rhythmic strokes that establishes a foreground “marker” which opens up the space more clearly.


There has been such a long time between updates from the middle of December to the present that I am posting four images representing the stages that I have produced since the last posting.
I am aware that showing the progress of a painting also involves showing the regress as well. Lately, the images have fluctuated between the two directions and have set for me a challenge to bring the forms of the image into a harmonious resolution.

In stage twelve, I have intensified the blue forms and introduced a flat grey form to act as a complement to the blue areas. Also, I introduced a red line with a strong pull to the middle of the bottom to set up a new tension.


In the thirteenth stage, I realized that I was protecting the linear rhythms at all cost and was beginning to hold back on the judgments that would affect the total canvas. (As opposed to protecting precious areas and painting around them.) So, In order to force myself to get back to composing the “entire” surface, I painted a glaze of yellow ochre over the lines and a section of the blue shapes.


Stage fourteen shows a layer of off white paint followed by a layer of a peach tone to build up a sense of volume, texture and openness. This offers me more flexibility in choosing the next step.
Stage fifteen starts to take the feeling of the forms in a new direction. I deliberately introduced a red color that will have to be harmonized with the rest of the image. Also, I have added textured blue/grey area to see what will happen to it as I start in again today.


Stage fifteen starts to take the feeling of the forms in a new direction. I deliberately introduced a red color that will have to be harmonized with the rest of the image. Also, I have added textured blue/grey area to see what will happen to it as I start in again today.


It’s quite evident that a few steps have occurred since the last stage. I simplified the activity by filling in a dominant blue area eliminating the wormy character and settling on the idea of an aerial view of water. A lot of my paintings make reference to water not as a landscape but as a symbol for the life force. For that reason I can include abstract forms that have no reference to a recognizable landscape object but can allow it to remain enigmatic. This gives the image an edge of tension.


I have included a detail of the swimmer because it appears too small in the reproduction.

I have included a second view that is inverted to show that the swimmer effects a real change in the feeling of the aerial view yet maintains the logic of a natural landscape space.



This is the final stage of the painting. It now hangs on my show at the Hillsborough Arts Council


111 West Corbin St.
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Home:919.296.9038 Cell:814.777.2434 

Web hosting and design by Digital Computer Services