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.)
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.