An Intuitive Approach

This is a new painting — fresh off the easel. And THIS is a video about making it.

“Wide Open Portal” by Barbara Peterson
28″x 22″ oil on canvas

Sometimes I start my paintings with a clear-cut image in my mind.  I arrange my still life and start painting. But that wasn’t the case with this one. Instead, I took a more intuitive approach. I knew I wanted to use the blocks to spell out the word “que” (Spanish for “what?”) and I also wanted to use the bird figurine which is a favorite of mine. And that’s where I started.

The theme of this painting is “wide open” so that leaves it open to a lot of interpretation. That’s why I started with “que?” — wide open what?… wide open sky?… wide open world?… And then I had the thought “what if I opened up the canvas?” Okay — so I built a special frame.

I painted in the sky so the background would be nice and smooth behind the “figures”. About a week later I was ready to paint in the birds. I blocked in the bird figurine on the left, and arranged the blocks. That’s fine. I arranged two little bird figurines on the right so they could have a conversation about this hole in the sky — you know, “what’s happening here!?”

The hole was overpowering the two little birds on the right and I didn’t like that at all.
Perhaps if I changed the colors? That’s an idea. Okay, cool — what colors would they be? Hmmm… what would give them enough punch? Well I like the reddish tones in the first bird and I decided that if the birds on the right were orange and blue they would complement each other and have more impact that way.

Nope. That wasn’t working either. So after a bit more thought… and a nap… I woke up with the image in my head of what I wanted on the right. I would use a small vase with red tones and a piece of bamboo inside the vase. So off I went around town looking for a piece of bamboo. I found a piece nearby at a little garden center for only 99 cents. YES! B-o-n-u-s!

I came back and assembled the vase and bamboo shoot. I painted them in… and painted in the raffia. And that’s it! It’s done!