Creating for me can be defined as simply as actualizing an idea. Taking something from my head and making it tangible. I get lost in the process of creating whether I’m carving or making forky figurines with my son. At its deepest though, creating has the power to share and emote ideas bigger than all of us. For that reason, my process fills my work with meaning.
When I first discovered paint carving, I felt so elated! Printmaking is truly enjoyable and special to me, however, there was always a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I loved the carved lino block more than I did the actual print. Paint carving feels a lot like carving linoleum, only, when you are finished carving, you don’t roll ink on it, you appreciate the carved piece as-is. I love the depth and texture and possibility this medium has to offer. What I didn’t’ expect to love was the process of painting layers.
To prepare a piece for carving, it requires applying house paint over a period of weeks in order to layer it deeply enough to carve (for me, I like a piece to be at least 30 layers of paint). It depends on the paint you use, but the paint must be allowed to dry fully before applying the next layer. Drying time is usually specified in the directions on the paint container, but can vary depending on where you live. For example, I live in Georgia where the summers are more humid than a hot tub in a toad strangler making it take longer than average for paint to dry fully. Generally speaking though, paint takes about 4 hours to dry fully, so if you play your cards right, you could get up to 4 or 5 layers in a day.
This process takes dedication, consistency, and most of all, patience. At first, I procrastinated with excuses: “I’ve got a lot on my plate, how an earth am I supposed to take the time to paint 4-5 times a day?” My first experimental pieces took me forever to layer. Perhaps a topic for a different post, but I felt a lot of doubt about whether I would be able to carve paint well, and I wondered why I was bothering to try. Pushing through that doubt, I began to make layering a habit. Typically, I will layer 3-4 times a day, though I layer less on the weekends because I want to spend time with my family. It takes weeks to finish layering paint and from the start that can be a bit daunting. I am not great at being patient and am so excited to get my ideas out of my head, that the length of the layering process could easily be frustrating. Instead, I’ve found this practice gives me time and space. Dedicating that time to myself and my art has become a necessary meditative practice.
While applying paint layers, I let my mind wander. Most of the time, I begin layering a piece with a specific idea in mind but taking the time to layer allows me to get a clearer picture of where each piece needs to go. Every layer is like getting to know the piece just a bit more. Sitting in my studio surrounded by pieces in the layering process feels like being in a room of people you like, are at peace with, and you look forward to getting to know better.
In the end, I don’t know how each piece will turn out, if it will be any good. Honestly, that challenges the perfectionist in me. Despite that, I hope. Hope is an essential element in my creative process and it motivates me to paint layer after layer.
Much Hope to you,