NEXT                                                                                                                 PREVIOUS

NEXT                                                                                                                    PREVIOUS

Elemental Painting Process

A candle is lit for the presence of the Creator. Who is the Creator? The flame reaches up as it dances in the air. It is a call for  the seemingly scattered  elemental forces of our life to  centralize in the moment. While the plain white surface waits like an open mind. Water is poured into containers - cups for rinsing brushes - perhaps some to drink. A well lit room hums with anticipation.

Have on hand:
Organics (leaves, sticks, stems, pedals,                   roots etc...) Grains (puffed cereals, pastas, rice and other grains) Objects (coins, anything special, random finds)
All sorts of mark making apparatus and tools (atomizers, tooth brushes, palette knives, brushes, scrapers, spray bottles, combs...) All sorts of media regardless of archival quality and compataility (dry pigment, oil pastel, gouache, watercolor, oils, colored pencils, craypas etc...) Sandpapers of all grits, hairdryer, panes of glass, sheets of paper, anything that you might want.


Prepare the inner & outer space by reducing extraneous thought and attractions in order to expand the subtle awareness of the intelligent influences which exist by and through us at all times. Nourish this connection in a prayerful open state of mind. Welcome those influences aligned to ones highest light and love. Ask for their help.

Accept the possibility that through ones own expressive abilities and with guidance a dialogue will occur through this painting process. Intention is then set. 

To start with, the predominant natural element utilized is Water. Its character of fluidity and its life giving qualities are recognized. Water is abundant in our own constitution. The awesome way it permeates our entire world through its many forms and cycles. The water inside  relates with the water outside like one seamless stream. Wet the page.The water will carry the pigment and support  the next level of activity about to happen. 

Organic Life

For a period time get fired-up and engaged. Follow impulses and intuition as you reach for paint to apply. Reach for any earthen thing to lay on the surface (use even your own body). Print, absorb, scratch, splatter, atomize, brush, stipple, salt, granulate, compress, sprinkle, print, comb. place etc... this surface. You may not know the result of your actions until much later when it dries and the materials are removed. For now swim through the moments flowing in this emerson of the creative juice - water..

Sink into the physicality of this wet assemblage. Stay with what it is rather than feeding associations of what it looks like or what it might become. Postpone any rigid agenda. In a sense this process moves from general to specific and right now it is all so loaded with potential and in a uniquely personal sense “your tea leaves”. If you can help it, don’t slow the process down with slower analytical thinking. Try to identify what is happening in an elemental sense - the water, fire, earth  as well as in an art element sense such as line, shape, value, color, form,  and texture. If precious areas start appearing, work around them or disregard them. Work until it feels right to stop. You can always resume almost any step in the process and work on isolated zones at a later time if needed. 

There are no accidents or hard fast rules. “The paint  knows the painting better than the painter”. Anything one does is workable. This fluid dialogue is a natural record of our affect in the world at that moment ripe for interpretation. Ones self has been imprinted through this process. From here on out the discovery shifts as the work of decoding this visual language starts to engage.


The activity we impose on this surface comes to a close and the surface now is quiet and allowed to dry. The air and warmth helps move the water vehicle away to let stand the cause and effect of the previous storm of activity. I  sometimes accentuate  this process by using a fan or hair dryer or placing it in the sun or near a breeze. It can sit until the next day or longer. Once dry the organic matter and objects are removed yet kept aside if needed. The image is set up vertically as if a new person entered the room. Take in the impression of it. Allow the colors to saturate your vision. Watch how the spectrum of colors come in and out of predominance. Turn the image upside down or sideways to disorient the tendency to attribute a horizontal line into the image as if the body is stepping into the image and trying to get some grounding. Stay un-grounded as if falling through the sky. As you rotate the painting note what you see. 

Eventually allow the paint to suggest subject matter. Pull areas out into focus. Free associate and  plan what to save, discard or develop. Pay attention to ones individual preferences executing judgement on this surface. Like selectively cutting a forest accentuating the preferred and diminishing all else. The principles of design come more into play during this stage - unity, harmony, contrast, rhythm, pattern, alteration, emphasis, balance, proportion, proximity. Imagination running over the surface plays an important part. Chase what comes up in the mind visually, literally, sensually. Ones academic training is useful here. Anything can happen from here and usually does. This is generally the time when the image is being refined and finished.

The painting process I have described is really only an outline. A painting is unique every time. It is futile to chart out as a system to methodically follow like a recipe. I hope this is understood and one relies on their own guidance to further them. I am attempting to recount the similarity from one painting to another that I experience when using this method. Consciousness of the elements has been an essential part of my painting experience.- Will Painting_Process_files/Meadow-Sunrise_with_streaksjpg.xcf