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The squeeze and release of painting

The squeeze and release of painting

The squeeze and release of making a painting

I admit I am a bit obsessed with how many things in life follow squeeze and release process rather than a steady flow. I wrote about this in my Creativity Coaching book where I describe other artists and creatives talking about giving birth to a painting (like labour contractions) or a feeling of emptiness that follows a feeling of fullness or howcreativity pumps through their body as the blood vessels squeeze and release.  It’s why I feel creativity of all sorts, is a natural process and whilst it can’t be forced, it helps to understand the flux and flow of things.

I started to develop this model about 6 years ago now in readiness for the book being published, but as I have immersed myself in my painting in the last few years, it has become clear that I need to apply this understanding to my own painting process.

Squeeze:   After having an initial idea for a painting or body of work, I work pretty quickly and with quite a lot of focus.

Release: And then, unless the work is finished, there is a letting go. I leave what I have started and used to get quite annoyed that I lost connection with my idea or went “off it” somehow. This release might last days or even months. At some point in the letting go, other ideas, insights or ways forward for the work, come into my mind and…

Squeeze: another frantic phase which might see me obliterating the image or using paint stripper to simplify things or turning the painting on its side to expose something else.  At some point I start to get annoyed or frustrated…rarely pleased unless I have seen some patterns emerging that I want to keep. At this point, I know its time to let go again…

Release:  the painting might need to stand and be looked at every day or perhaps put away for weeks or months. There seems to need to be a period of rest needed (a bit like me lol).  It is rare for me to actually produce what I originally intend. I was upset by this for many years but now know that I can do both and often the curved ball/random one works out better.

This process might continue for some time, but eventually there is a decision to finish the painting or recycle it somehow…

Squeeze:  It might be just a few tweaks to finish the painting or a full-on push, like the final contraction of birth!  Or the squeeze might be a knife or saw to the painting and although this doesn’t happen often, I know that creation and destruction go hand in hand and that’s ok!

I know that sounds a bit weird or perhaps familiar to some painters, but embracing this natural pattern has helped me so much in recent years and has helped my work develop much further.  I also wanted you to see inside my process a little more and know that if you ask me something like “how did you paint that tree?” my silence might be due to there really not being a straightforward answer ????

The featured painting below was created in this way and here is a diagram of the model if you are interested :


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