Artistic Process and Growth

This AI transcription/summary was created on @November 25, 2023. Listen to the original recording here.

TL;DR A transformative journey in painting led to a shift from natural pigments to lab-derived mineral pigments, influenced by the discovery of the Real Color Wheel and its impact on understanding color mixing. This change in materials was driven by concerns over waste and health risks associated with natural substances. The evolution in technique, favoring paintings without visible brushstrokes and using the biological signal of eye focus as a completion indicator, marks a significant development in artistic ability and satisfaction.

(daily artifact - the images heading each post are artifacts from my creative process and learning tracks.)
(daily artifact - the images heading each post are artifacts from my creative process and learning tracks.)


This is a reflection on yesterday. I woke up at three, no, 2.30 a.m. And I started painting probably around 3.30. And I worked on this one painting of kind of a sunrise.

And I am so satisfied that at least in, I mean, I basically started painting again three months ago, two or three months ago. And I, it took a little bit of time, maybe like two weeks to reacquaint myself with where I had left off, which was painting fields of color using dry pigments and tree resin and beeswax because I wanted to share the beauty of dry pigments, which in retrospect is also what pastels are, dry pastels. But there's something, there was something really magical to me about not using a point or not using a kind of pen equivalent or a line making tool, but rather applying it as a field of color that was almost like floating. And I achieved that by basically using a sieve and a makeup brush and like powdering it across an entire surface of the canvas while that canvas was still tacky with tree resin.

And it was an incredibly messy process. And the reason that I stopped other than three years in web three is that I'm not, I wasn't so keen on wasting so much product because a lot of that pigment would fly in the air. And I wasn't so keen on how potentially toxic it would make my environment and dirty as well. The big part was the waste though.

I felt like it was a lot of pigment that just couldn't be repurposed. So fast forward to now and looking back at the paintings I was doing just before the pigment paintings, using very, very, very thin layers of paint to kind of, to create like very, rich and complex and yet translucent surfaces. When I started doing that, it was more about ways that I could layer mineral pigments like natural mineral pigments because a lot of them are very translucent. And so by layering them, I could get some of the, the color saturation to actually show through.

And today I'm actually, well, okay. So when I started again, a couple of months ago, I had discovered this work online called the Real Color Wheel. And I will have to input the name of the author later. And the Real Color Wheel work is 30 plus years of plein air painting, understanding of colors and how the like kind of traditional way that the color wheel is taught for painters is not entirely correct because it substitutes oftentimes red for what should be magenta or blue for what should be C on or yellow for what should be more of like an Indian yellow.

And what really fascinated me was that I had been already discovering these principles. Like for example, I remember painting a face and in the past, when I first started painting, I would lay down transparency across the entire canvas. And then I would put opaque paints over it. And I was always like annoyed at how dull the opaque paints made it feel, but yet it was that contrast of the transparency underneath the opaque that I think gave rose to a pretty signature style and was something that I became recognized for pretty quickly.

With the Real Color Wheel, there's like a deeper understanding and plotting of which pigments are opaque, which ones are transparent and where they fall on this true color wheel, which is based on the principle that magenta, C on and Indian yellow, which are three transparent colors can basically combine plus burnt umber or raw sienna can basically combine to create any color on the color wheel, as long as you also have white for some of the more opaque pigments. So when I started painting again, I was like going back to the transparency only, but allowing myself to use chemical pigments because I realized that they, there's actually almost like a beautiful purity to them, which is found in nature anyway, like in crystals. It's not that we should need to grind down crystals to get something that can be made more pure in a lab. So I became positive again about chemical pigments or lab-derived mineral pigments.

And I also went full on with trying to recreate all the colors that I needed through just the transparency of Indian yellow, magenta, C on and burnt umber. Yeah, and burnt umber. And what happened was the paintings, I mean, I was able to recreate pretty much any color, but the paintings themselves became, the, I was using, the first problem was that I was like confining myself to the structure, the compositional structure too tightly within the lines. So I was trying to basically keep the colors really, really like tight within lines, but I was also showing the brushstrokes.

And very quickly, I realized that I didn't like the look of the brushstrokes. It felt almost too like performative, too egotistical. And I really want to transcend that. And it also, something happens to my eyes when the color, like when the color becomes perfect or when the brushstrokes disappear and it really is just about color, it's like my eyes can't focus anymore.

And that's actually a really amazing biological signal for an area being complete, which is so important with my paintings because I've definitely gone overboard many times. And so to have like a signal, like a real biological signal through the form of my eyes can't focus on anything, I think is a really, really amazing thing to be able to rely on or count on. Anyway, so these first paintings, the color thing I have, I had down already pretty quickly. It was, yeah, as I said, the tightness of the lines where I realized, oh, it would be much nicer if I actually allowed there to be like auras of color that could then become more rainbowy.

And that would also be kind of a stand-in. So instead of brushstrokes, there would be this kind of aura, which I think is a different kind of transcendental human touch. And then the other thing that wasn't working so well was I was only using transparency. And when I went deeper into the real color wheel work, I started to learn about like how atmosphere affects color through like the color of objects at different distances is affected in a really mechanical way because of atmosphere.

And I also was reading something about a painter using small figures to evoke a sense of scale. And I realized that our eyes really appreciate having, if not like recognizable elements, having a sense that certain things are blocking light and certain things are receiving light and certain things are just atmosphere. So that sense of distance of, oh, like that's really far and this is close up and that's far away. And maybe this is smaller or bigger.

So these are things I never learned being self-taught and really being stubborn in the sense of like, I never tried to copy anything when I was younger. I just did what I wanted to do. And these days I'm like almost in the opposite boat where I'm really keen on learning these fundamentals so that I can make things that I really, really love. And a lot of the things that I love up until this point have already existed.

But now that I've like really been working towards re-entering or making my own work again, I'm getting to the point where now I don't see what I want to see in the world. And so there is something unique for me to express here. So back to what I did yesterday morning, I painted this painting and I very intuitively included and adapted my approach with all these elements in mind. So having transparency as well as opacity, having distance as well as closeness and not having any visible brushstrokes and really allowing myself to reach that point at which my eyes just kind of can't focus on anything and they're drawn around and knowing that that would be the telltale sign of completion, at least in this layer.

And the result is so profoundly beautiful to me. I'm so happy with it. And the feeling that I had when I stepped away was, wow, like painting, at least in this capacity of color and composition, you've really reached a point where you can rely on it. You can rely on being able to execute it and also being able to pivot and know whether something is gonna turn out well or not.

That long distended period of like spending so much time and not really achieving a worthwhile result, I think is now something of the past. And again, a lot of this is because a sort of humility has crept in of like the, for me, and this is where the individuation process really takes hold. For me, it's not about approaching a blank canvas and just like exploring, exploring and pushing paint around. It's about having something predefined and then allowing those parameters to then like create spaces for you to do magic within a kind of bridge making across different elements.

The elements though are already known. And that to me is like, it feels really good to be uniquely aligned with a sort of specific approach rather than needing to constantly like challenge, push, whatever, how I would. Yeah, I realized that I'm of a certain type. I don't have to be of another type.

I am of this type.


Main Points

  • The speaker resumed painting after a break, beginning with sunrise-themed works.
  • Previously used dry pigments with tree resin and beeswax, but stopped due to waste and health concerns.
  • Adopted the Real Color Wheel to guide their new approach with transparent and lab-derived mineral pigments.
  • Noted a preference for non-brushstroke aesthetics with color fields that induce a lack of eye focus signifying completion.
  • Implemented knowledge of opacity, transparency, and perceived distance into their artistic practice for a more profound effect.
  • Discovered the biological signal where eyes 'can't focus' as an indicator for completion of a work.
  • The speaker feels that their new approach to painting allows for reliable execution and expression.
  • Acknowledged a shift from exploring on blank canvases to working within known parameters to create art.
  • Expressed joy in the beauty and completion of their most recent art piece.
  • Recognizes the individuation process as matched with a specific approach rooted in understanding fundamentals.

Stories and Examples

  • The story of the speaker resuming painting with a focus on sunrise imagery after taking a hiatus.
  • The recount of their earlier painting method using dry pigments, tree resin, and beeswax, and why it was abandoned.
  • The speaker's discovery and utilization of the Real Color Wheel principles in their painting.
  • An example of the speaker's recent painting session, where they combined their newfound techniques and insights to create a satisfying piece of work.
  • The speaker's personal journey in learning and adapting their art style, leading to a unique approach that aligns with their individuation process.

References and Citations

  • The Real Color Wheel, which influenced the speaker's renewed approach to color and painting technique.
  • Mentioned pigments such as Indian yellow, magenta, C on, burnt umber, and their roles in color mixing.
  • The concept of using both transparent and opaque pigments to enhance the depth and realism in art.
  • The biological signal that the speaker uses to assess completion involving a lack of eye focus on the artwork.
  • The principle that magenta, C on, and Indian yellow, combined with white and burnt umber, can create any color on the color wheel.


Potential Action Items

Input the name of the Real Color Wheel's author later (2023-11-26).
Explore more on how atmosphere affects color perception in paintings.
Integrate the concept of scale using small figures to evoke a sense of distance in future paintings.
Continue experimenting with the balance of transparent and opaque pigments to refine painting techniques.
Strive for the absence of visible brushstrokes in future works to enhance the desired effect.

Follow-Up Questions

  • Who is the author of the Real Color Wheel and what more can be learned from their work?
  • What additional techniques can be implemented to reduce the perception of brushstrokes?
  • How can the toxicity and environmental impact of pigments be further mitigated?
  • Are there specific painting styles or movements that influence the speaker's current approach?
  • Can the speaker's current technique be adapted or applied to different art mediums beyond painting?

Arguments and Areas for Improvement

These are potential arguments and rebuttals that other people may bring up in response to the transcript. Like every other part of this summary document, factual accuracy is not guaranteed.

  • There might be an argument against the speaker's portrayal of the Real Color Wheel as a superior approach, preferring traditional models.
  • Some may argue against the avoidance of brushstrokes, seeing them as an intrinsic part of the painterly technique.
  • Critics could suggest that the speaker's reliance on the inability to focus as a sign of completion may not be universally applicable.
  • There could be counterarguments to the speaker's assertion that lab-derived pigments can match the purity found in nature.
  • Others may dispute the need for a predefined structure, advocating for a more exploratory approach to art creation.

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Related Topics

  • art composition
  • artistic process
  • color theory
  • environmental impact of art materials
  • lab-derived mineral pigments
  • painting techniques
  • perception of color in art
  • psychology of visual perception
  • the real color wheel
  • transparent pigments


  • Sentiment: positive
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