Here’s one method suggested by the artist, a series of six steps to begin a piece: “I begin the first thing in the morning in my morning-glory room, with a pencil and paper, a sketching pad, and a blank page. I make a couple sketches for each canvas. One to look at from the perspective of a woman—she’s a pretty girl or pretty boy, standing alone in a small room. I’m not much into the feminine side of things—the face, the eyes, the hair—so I use the masculine drawings. I find that women are always more difficult to draw. My sketches begin with an empty canvas that is so big that it cannot be filled with one sketch, or else the sketch is not complete at all.”
The first step may seem daunting, but it is not overwhelming, and can easily be accomplished by doing five to seven paintings a week. When the work is complete, let the paintings sit for two or three days; then they can be stored and used with little or no care.
Do not get stuck on the first step. Once you begin a painting, you must stop. Do not stop if you notice a tear or some trouble, because, unless you get the painting completely right the first time, you will be stuck. To start, go with the flow of your drawing, drawing, working, listening or hearing a tune, or doing something else that feels good. If you are not sure of what to do next, write it down.
You can add color by adding pigment by rubbing it into the canvas a little and pressing it into the canvas over and over again for several minutes and more or less often. Do not get in the habit of applying water to the canvas but stick to a slightly lightened paint. Do not get too heavy, and do not let the paint sink. Avoid water-based paints and use water-based paints only if they are used sparingly, since too much water-based paint will cause the paint to dry on the surface of the canvas more quickly than a water-based color will. Paint may be used with a brush or by applying it directly to the canvas. An artist’s palette has the following colors: black, blue, red, yellow, green, white, gray, black, and silver.
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