Sometimes You Just Need to Step Back

In preparing for an upcoming show in March, I’ve been burning the night oil in the new studio. With more room to back up and view my work in process, more room to experiment on several projects at a time, I can’t wait to start each day.

LeeAnn Brook Fine Art

The process of painting is quite an evolution, as the students in my workshops fully realize at some point. Each new painting builds on another. Each time we learn, that knowledge comes forth in layers of colors, layers of new directions. The very beginning of a painting is often mysterious. Where will it go? Will it accomplish what I want it to accomplish? Or maybe it will be set aside to rest against the wall in a corner, put to bed to work on another time.

So how does a painting begin? Where does the inspiration come from, how is it translated to canvas? My paintings begin in my mind, but often are a reflection of something a while back that caught my eye…the reflection on a pond, the color after a rain, the infraction of light on a tree. Starting with shooting a photo to record the memory, it may sit untouched for several years. Then one day it starts.

I let my intuition guide me as to what colors I will use. I let unplanned drips, scrapes and meanderings with the brush tell me where the painting will go. It will ofter start like this:


The inspiration is there, but the key is 1. to not ruin what is there, 2. to maintain the feeling of the inspiration while forming the painting at the same time, and 3. to know when to stop. This is where the trust comes in.

Sometimes, I think I have a plan as to how I want to painting to come out. It rarely goes as planned. Decision making is based on years of experience in painting, but trusting that you really don’t know the outcome, takes even more wisdom. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I didn’t know the exact outcome of the paintings below, but I knew when I was done and satisfied. Believing in following what you know and what you don’t know and letting the painting form on its own, can be as powerful a tool as any in the hand of a painter. Sometimes you just need the room to step back.


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