Bringing a painting back to life

I’ve learnt A LOT in the last five years of making art, but the biggest thing is this: The greatest feelings of joy usually come after the biggest moments of despair.

This was definitely the case when it came to creating my abstract painting, Rain Down. The plan had been to create a retro-inspired piece, using some of my favourite colours – pink, green and yellow ochre. But things went in a very unexpected direction.

Because I’m very drawn to curves, I thought of all the different ways I could include this shape: leaves, loops, letters, circles, arches. I accidentally included the McDonalds M. Perhaps I was feeling hungry.

At this point I realised everything was very mid-tone. If you squint your eyes, most of the painting becomes one big block with just a couple of areas of white breaking it up. Action was needed!

Turning the canvas upside down, I added some dark areas. But in doing so, I lost the lightness that was keeping it fresh. Time to back pedal!

Out came the white paint to accentuate some of the curves. It helped but it just wasn’t speaking to me. It was muddy, muddled and didn’t feel like ‘me’. What would my next move be?

At this point, I kind of gave up. I could have waited for it to dry and painted over it, but something made me head to the kitchen sink. Because it was a canvas, I knew it would be fine if I put it under the tap.

As the water flowed over it, all the shapes and colours merged. I felt calmer. Rather than lots of areas fighting with each other, it had become one – a base for me to create more interest over.

Then something unexpected happened.

Flicking water onto a painting is one of my favourite things to do, so I thought why not give it a go? I let the water rest on the surface for a while, then I pressed down with some kitchen roll – and to my surprise, the paint completely lifted off, revealing the white canvas below.

Now I was getting excited! Was I ready for another bold move?

I’d bought some black spray paint a few weeks earlier and hadn’t been brave enough to use it yet. Was this the right moment to try it on a painting?

Putting it under the tap had worked unexpectedly well, so I figured why not?!

Because I’d never used spray paint before and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to wash it off in the same way as acrylic paint, I took a photo of the canvas and intuitively added some dark marks, digitally. I was happy with the first attempt and decided it was time to jump in with both feet and recreate the design for real.

But first I dripped and flicked more water onto the canvas. I’m not really sure what made me do that, but it created my favourite effect on the painting. Where there was water, the spray paint lifted off with kitchen roll revealing the pinks and greens below and creating organic shapes that I couldn’t have made in any other way.

And here it is – framed and named. I called it Rain Down (a line from Paranoid Android by Radiohead), inspired by all the drips of water that created my favourite parts of the painting.

So there you have it. At the start of the day, I’d never have predicted I’d end up with a painting like this. Things had to get REALLY BAD (in my eyes!) before I was forced to find a new direction, but what a great feeling it was when it worked out.

If this painting makes you happy too, it’s available to buy.

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