Inside the Artist's Studio: Contemplation

Q :: What does it mean to use an "assembly line" method with my art?

I approach painting a new collection of work like an assembly line...they all start together and they all finish together. That is not to say that I make each one identical, it's simply my way of keeping unity and infusing each one with the same style and visual voice.


I'll use one color or one tool at a time, and on all the surfaces before I move on to the next step. Some paintings will get a particular color, and some will not...I simply skip over them while using it. The decision comes from how I feel that piece should turn out.


Color can create unity in a body of work, but your mood, energy, and emotional state can vary from day to day. I find that those things can cause me to paint differently, too.


So I strive to complete one layer on all my surfaces before my painting session is complete so that they all got the same treatment and it didn't matter my mood or energy level.


Not only does the same part of me going into each layer on each piece, but I can keep consistency in the process if I replicate each step onto all of my art.

Q :: How do I know what to do next?

Abstract art is more difficult than it looks. Abstract artists don't have something to look to know what to do next or to know when they are finished.


Over time, I have learned that in abstract art that we shouldn't be asking ourselves what to do next but rather looking back at what we have done and respond to that or to recognize what is "coming up."


Normally, we want someone else to decide and lead the way. But the thing is: there are no rules. I get to decide. I get to be the designer of my piece.


My art has phases: Play, Explore, and Clarify. I start with my gut and enjoy the process but the further I go, the more thought I put into my decision making.


Because I have a set process, and I know what colors I understand, and what my tools can do from experimenting, I can show up to the studio knowing what needs to be done next. It took time for me to get here.


I also have collection themes that helps me to keep focus on overarching ideas or colors I want to explore.

Q :: How do I avoid overworking my pieces?

I have a few techniques and tricks up my sleeve but the biggest thing was learning to not force things to happen. I had to come to grips with sometimes you're hot and sometimes you're not.


That means sometimes a painting may sit unfinished for a long time because I've learned not to go back to it until I have an idea for how to proceed or I feel creatively confident to try something, but I have to have the idea of what to try first.


Knowing when I was starting to struggle during a paint session was something I have cultivated over time but now I have learned when to stop and take a pause. And that's's actually necessary for a strong piece to develop.


But there are other things I will occasionally do, too:

- I limit my time with a brush: I quickly and confidently "get in and get out."

- I research, plan, or clarify goals before I start painting.

- I try to visualize the next step, either in my mind or with a phone app.

- I focus on the essentials and avoid getting lost in the weeds (the details).

- I work in a series so I don't fall in love with just one painting, pressuring myself to not mess up my one painting.

- I will walk away and let a piece "marinade" to make edits with fresh eyes.


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