“…the whole point of play is to be surprised. The unknown factor is part of what entertains us. Play is a gateway to possibility.
… Play can transport us out of the realm of ‘things we already know’ … and into the realm of ‘things we haven’t yet figured out.'”
— Shane Parrish, The Value of Play As a Driver of Innovation, 21 August 2017
If you expect, desire, need every painting to turn out perfectly, you’re doomed to repeating what you know works.
The irony is that, after a while, what works will stop working as well as it once did because you get tired of doing it. You think you’re doing it to the same standard but you’re not. Painting by painting the results become less interesting, flatter, duller, predictable. An injection of freshness, a change of pace is needed.
It’s not to say every painting needs or wants to be an adventure, but in order to invigorate, refresh, rejuvenate what works you must explore the unknown, the unfamiliar, the neglected regularly. To enjoy, experiment, play with your paint without demanding an successful outcome.
I’ve been playing with my new Daniel Smith watercolours, using some sunflowers in a yellow jug as the inspiration. This painting is the last of half a dozen I did one morning. I stopped at this point because I wanted the layers of yellow in the petals to dry.
Now I can’t get back to the playful state I was in because, even though I know it needs some greater contrast and a few strongly found edges, I find myself too intimidated by how much I like what I’ve done to continue. The solution is of course to do another, and I will. I’ll take a step back and play again, enjoy trying the different yellows and putting them down in vaguely sunflower and jug shapes, rather than worry about ruining this one.
I did half a dozen play-paintings that morning, each has something I like and something I don’t. I find myself contemplating tearing out the pieces and making a collage. I’m hearing the muse whisper “I dare you”. But I’m not feeling that playful.
No, I do not have every single Daniel Smith watercolour colour in my new mega-watercolour tin that the in-house art critic gave me when I came home from Patchings enthusing about my new paints. Though I do have this dot card which enables you to try all the colours as it’s got blobs of dried watercolour paint on it that you simply wet with a brush. I’m really enjoying the granulating colours and the “lunar” ones are already favourites. But more on that another day. Looking at the length of this blog all I can say is “I guess I’m really motivated this Monday”!