REFLECTIONS ON MY PAINTING PROCESS

©2015 Yao Cheng Design

©2015 Yao Cheng Design

Hello! I took some time this week to update my website with some new prints and I realized it was time for a revisit on my blog as well. Work takes me away from my blog for months at a time, but, I love being able to share my thoughts on my creative process and work progress with you guys.

In the last month, I managed to carve out weeks of time to devote just to painting. How I was able to do this in the first place is beyond me, except to say that it felt imperative that I start painting again. And when I say painting, I mean for more than 3 hours at a time. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't able to do this vigilantly for the entire time, but, when I could spend an entire day painting, it felt great to allow my creative mind to run off on its own. While I was working on my process page today, I realized that there's so much more to this than what I can fit into a few short paragraphs. 

The painting process is something I have come to value more and more. As I gain more confidence in myself as an artist, I've become to appreciate the process of painting a lot. When I was in college, there was a lot of emphasis on the "process", but I never really understood what that meant. It felt more important to finish the class project and get an A instead. But now, I find myself more relaxed in my work if I focus more on the process of arriving at the final painting than to tell myself I need 3 amazing pieces by end of the day. What I mean by this is I try very hard not to put any expectations on a painting before I even begin. Staring at a blank "canvas", I still feel a lot of uncertainty every time I begin painting. It's equal parts a thrilling and an uneasy prospect for me. "Will this be the next best-seller?" But then before I can psych myself out of it, I pick up my brush and go with it. And once I start painting, everything is a reaction, a conversation, from one stroke to the next...I cannot stop myself from falling into this world where colors and shapes come to life. It's a completely different head space for me. All cluttering thoughts stop here, I am not aware of anything else in my surrounding except the painting in front of me. This type of focus is amazing, it's addicting and freeing for me. I can only describe it as meditative, because painting allows me to escape to a place where I do not need to think about anything else except for what I am painting. I suppose this is what it means to be truly present.

And being present is what painting, especially with watercolor, is all about. Yes, the final piece captures that entire process, all of those layers of movement, rhythm and expression. But, it's only an imprint of those moments where colors meet and blend, and where translucent shapes are layered on top of each other. It feels so final, so flat. The painting doesn't capture in real-time what it's like to see all of that unfolding in front of you. The true painting, as I've come to find more and more, is in the process itself. It's about the gestural movements of my hand, the accidental colors that touch and blend, and the strokes that speak volumes about how I feel. I never feel like I can fully capture this in my final piece, maybe that's why I always feel a little unsatisfied at the end of a painting. But the best part of my process is that I can start over with the next painting. This is why I never place too much expectation on this one being the "it" piece. Because I never know which ones will become a final painting, and that's never really the point anyway. 

That's all that I have for today, hope you all will enjoy a wonderful summer weekend!

Cheers,
Yao