Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Checkerboard Tree

Often when I start working I have no idea what to paint, perhaps because I haven't given enough thought to the things that make my life unique or to ways that I am to use these life experiences to make my work have meaning.

Robert Burridge told me to work with intention... definitely a contradiction to slapping on the paint and paper with no end in mind. He says that he does his Morning Pages first thing every morning and from that exercise he states his intentions. Bob says not to start a painting without knowing what the 3-Cs will be: Content, Composition, Color combination.

Cathy Woo talks about organizing a painting with the elements and principles of design in mind.

With this advice in mind I've made up little cards that help guide me when I start a painting, though I sometimes go down a different pathway right in the middle of my work. When starting to work I take a card and write out my intentions:

Design Element... (balance, repetition, etc.)
Dominant Color
Complementary color
2 Spice Colors
Key (high, low)

The collage painting above is one I've worked on off and on for months but it lacked something, so yesterday I sat down and journaled about recurring themes and images that interest me with the intent of developing lots of drawings that symbolize these themes. One was trees. I could not live where there are no trees. I love trees. I climbed plenty as a kid and had several tree swings. I grow trees and prune them. I take shelter under them from rain and sun. So I gulped big, said a quick prayer for a steady hand, picked up a Pitt brush pen and drew this tree directly on the lovely background, praying I wouldn't ruin it. I didn't.


  1. Beautiful. I really like this Jo. What is the size? Watercolor?

  2. Leslie, thanks. this piece is 9 x 12 inches, acrylic and paper on board.

  3. Jo, I like your ideas of writing your intentions as a process guide for a piece and discovering the themes that speak to you the most.

  4. Wonderful Jo! I took a class with Robert Burridge years ago! I absolutely love it!

  5. i just love this page jo, can i ask where you got the tree image?? xx

  6. Jo, the tree came from a photo I took here in Portland though it's not strictly accurate. I can draw trees from my head because I've looked at so many of them, but I prefer to be looking at an actual tree or at least one of my many photos, I used a black Paintstick marker.

  7. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for commenting at my blog.... thought I would check yours out too! Love this painting, and your photos and journaling are great too. I especially like the idea of having cards ready to help clarify your intent for a painting....may use that in one of my classes if you don't mind?
    Happy painting!

  8. Hi Ruth, and thanks for visiting my blog. Since Bob and Cathy both influenced me to make up my set of cards using their ideas I see no reason to be selfish with the idea. Go ahead and use them for your classes, perhaps giving credit.

  9. This is stunning! I love it!! :)


I appreciate comments and questions.

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