Christine Aerfeldt, Oil on Canvas
Friday, September 26, 2014
A discussion with Australian painter Christine Aerfeldt made me come to some conclusions about my own practice and about painting in general. Christine wrote on her blog how she became the slave of her studio, because her style and technique require succesive layers of paint, which take a long time and continue effort to complete. I replied that I went through a time I didn't paint at all anymore, as I didn't find any pleasure in it, I had to make myself to do it, and this didn't feel right. But I rememebered that when I touched the oil paint for the first time, when I was a child, I was an alla prima painter. My idol was Van Gogh. I did then a series of portraits of my best friend. It didn't cross my mind to work from photo, I didn't even own a camera. My friend didn't want to sit long hours, so I had to work fast. I produced some interesting portraits, which I rediscovered recently in my friend's home. I had to relearn to paint alla prima after I painted in layers most of my life, for the life painting classes I teach. I rediscovered the pleasure of panting spontaneously. Large brushes and a huge amount of paint make everything so enjoyable. Christine answer was: "I so know what you mean about losing the pleasure in painting. I went through that too, a while back and realised I was trying to paint like somebody that I wasn't. Yes, you've got to be true to yourself and make the work that feels right. It's funny how going back to one's childhood or adolescent experiences of early art making can be so informative. I've also found myself reminiscing about what I was making as a teenager and thinking of taking a few lessons from myself." So in the end, you always have to paint how you feel, the painting has to complete your own nature, and not to go against it. You look at the Masters and get inspired by them, and go through school to learn about all different styles, you try to paint the best you can, experimenting with different techniques. But in the end you just find yourself getting back to your own style, you started with, all along, the one which is true to your real nature.