It all started with this announcement in my newsletter of January 2023: I was going to take a sabbatical year and embarking on a new creative journey.
I wanted to take a break from my previous art form, the one I was mostly known for: mixed-media collage. I felt a strong and clear whisper to dive into acrylic painting and into the mysterious landscapes of my soul with paint and brush. I had just decided to take a step back from the demands of my small art business. Painting felt like a form of creative therapy. I had no idea where it would take me. But let’s start at the beginning…
Setting up my new studio
At the end of 2022 I moved in with my partner and I felt lucky to have a room of my own to set up my little art studio. Even though it is a much brighter, light-filled space, it is also much smaller than what I had before. Nevertheless, I enjoyed setting up this sacred space to inspire me on my painting journey.
Studying & Filling Sketchbooks
I bought a lot of different sketchbooks and focused on color theory, value studies, composition, brush work, etc. I fell in love with the challenging yet joyful process of becoming better at painting. I had a lot of knowledge about the principles of art and design but I loved becoming a student again and revisit certain aspects in more depth. I spent the first weeks and months sketching and exploring the possibilities of acrylics and gouache paints. I also loved incorporating some favourite mixed-media supplies such as Neocolor II water-soluble crayons and soft pastels. I enjoyed scratching into wet paint, drawing with charcoal, creating layers and using non-traditional mark-making tools and applying paint with a palette knife.
I started painting for the pure joy, the relaxation, and the mindful presence it brought me. It became a sort of therapy during a long period of soul-searching and healing work. I loved diving into less known territory and actually creating without the pressure of producing a commercial product or producing a social media post.
A love for abstraction
I felt most drawn to painting semi-abstract landscapes. Why landscapes? They just kept pouring out of me again and again. I believe they helped me navigate and explore my own inner landscapes. It was almost a mystical experience.
I became fascinated with trying to create a certain mood, a feeling, an interplay of color and shape. I wanted to capture experiencing the magic and the eternal beauty of nature and how it effects the soul. I sometimes liked to work from my own photographs as reference material and I also painted intuitively from imagination.
Trees, Trees, Trees
Trees started to play a particularly important role. Their aura and beauty as well as their symbolic power have always had a strong influence on me (aka the Tree of Life). As a painter I am intrigued by their shapes and strong vertical impact in a composition. Trees often took on center stage in my paintings. My favorite tree is the Italian umbrella tree (Stone Pine) and I love drawing their trunks and branches with charcoal or graphite pencils into the wet paint (inspired by my favorite landscape painter and teacher Maxine Hart).
Some fun facts: I most enjoy painting on fine watercolour paper and wood panel. I prefer a smooth surface. I occasionally paint on canvas panel.
I no longer paint with gouache but entirely with acrylic paints. I find them to be the most versatile and do appreciate the layering options it provides. I like to add finishing touches with crayons and pastels.
Color & BRushstrokes
If you would ask me what the two most important componants of my paintings are to capture the spiritual energy of a landscape I would say: Color and Brushswork/paint application. These two excite me the most. Wether I want to paint a dark dramatic sky or capture movement and light in a row of tree tops. Although I have a set of favourite hues I never tire of experimenting with color mixing and ways of applying the paint with brushes and other tools in new ways. I use the color that I feel more than the one I see.
Do I consider myself a painter now? Well, painting has become another form of creative expression for me that I truly value and enjoy. I do not call myself a painter, but an artist, a creator. Discovering new art forms is part of our journey, I believe. I am truly grateful that painting found me at time when I felt lost and uninspired.