Creative Process: The Art of Layering Paint


The layering of paint in my own creative process operates on two levels.

Firstly, particularly in acrylics, it’s way of achieving depth and complexity of colour. Using both transparent and opaque layers, a lusciousness is reached that cannot be created unless the layers exist. Imagine, putting a pure cerulean blue on a plain white canvas; pretty, but trite. The purity of the colour itself is revealed but nothing else; no story, no depth, no provoked feelings or thoughts. Now imagine having a layer of magenta underneath that blue.  Watch how the various thicknesses of blue will be more violet and some areas bluer; blue now has an association. Blue is now holding a conversation with another colour.

I don’t stop there, I continue to add colour, perhaps mixing that blue with a bit of raw umber and pinch of buff. Leaving cracks and spaces of the previous colours from underneath, I add opaque and transparencies of this new smoky blue that I have mixed. No longer is the plain pretty cerulean blue that I understood immediately. Now there are layers and layers, conversations and conversations that beg the viewer to engage.  

Secondly, the various layers are a way of sorting out ideas, learning, and allowing myself to change not only in the art but also metaphorically in the soul. It’s about forgiveness and exploration of the self. It becomes an exercise of ‘letting go’. It teaches me to be more tolerant of myself and in turn, others.  It teaches me to keep searching, to keep sparking passions and seeking answers. 

Layering can be infinite. However, I know there are enough layers when in 3 days time, I look at the painting and all of my senses are engaged simultaneously.  I am alive.

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