Got White Canvas Syndrome?

For a writer there is nothing worse than white paper syndrome; for an artist there is indeed an equal frustration –  White Canvas Syndrome!  It is a malady we artists all suffer on occasion and when it strikes it surely puts one at a complete and disheartening loss.  Motivation flies south for the winter, swiftly ensued by any wisp of desire left in one to do anything at all, let alone begin a new artwork!  For this reason alone it is best to never even ponder an attempt at working cold onto a blank canvas.  

A quick and simple technique for deleting the daunting white canvas is as follows;

Depending on the mood of the day, the atmosphere, the music playing, and of course the availability of remaining paint, choose an acrylic colour, or any combination of acrylic colours, grab a wonderfully over-sized bucket of white or black gesso and slap great wads of each onto an ice-cream lid.  Take a medium to large sized house-painting brush, dip it first in the gesso, then lightly on each tip into each of  the colours you have selected and let loose with wild swathes of randomly placed brush marks all over the canvas.  Don’t be precious about it and don’t stint on the amount of paint you use.  Keep splatting until the canvas is completely covered in a lively layer of  swirls and patterned streaks which in themselves will have become a wonderful work of primeval art.  The priming of your canvas is now complete and the uninspiring white canvas is no more. 

Now, make a hot chocolate, pour a glass of something warming, stand back, wait and watch while the image you wish to place upon this freshly enlivened canvas begins to broil and unfold in the depths of  your creative juices!   Now get painting!

Below is an image of my own latest work in progress, done using the technique outlined above just yesterday.  This is the preliminary sketch on primed canvas for ‘Tendrils’ #11 (100 x 80 cm), which will be painted in oils, in the same manner as the other 10 in the series.   

I like to sketch an image onto the canvas before painting,  particularly for figure painting, which I am quite fussy about when it comes to detail.  This work I sketched in pastel, though I usually use watercolour pencil – both allowing for easy corrections and pre-painting clean-up without making a mess of your freshly primed canvas.  I deliberately omit any shadows or highlights at this stage in the work, except for perhaps a few basic indicator lines of shadow, leaving only clearly defined outlines and details which dissolve and disappear nicely as the paint is applied. 

The above technique is one of many which I have discovered/encountered in my artistic travels for deleting the dreaded white canvas syndrome.  I shall indeed endeavor to share others with you in due course!  Until then…

Keep splashing & stay inspired!

Tahala. xxo

*All text & imagery (C.) tahala 2010*