“Think on your palette, feel on your painting.” rm
This is a theme that comes up often in the lessons that I teach on painting and drawing. People often ask me how much of what we do as artists is feeling and how much is thinking. The simple answer is both. Creativity is the dance between thoughts and feelings.
I think the question is more a left brain/right brain issue. How much method and knowledge versus my intuition, my gut feeling belongs in the painting? I tell students, you are what you eat. The knowledge you assimilate will eventually find its way into your work in the form of intuition, which can be nothing more than the creative application of the sum total of all your knowledge.
The quote above is in reference to the process of painting itself. The palette is a place for you to figure out the color you’re about to use, in relation to other colors you are using. So we put a darker version of a color next to the lighter version so we can see how it will look on the painting before we commit, in the form of a stoke onto the painting itself. This mindful process helps us avoid too much trial and error on the canvas, which should be a place where all the real fun happens. Still, people resist organizing their palettes, or applying any method to their process, for fear it will curtail their freedom, God forbid.
With that I will close with another bit of advice: there is no real freedom without structure, unless chaos is your goal, in which case, have a ball. But don’t forget to clean your brushes after.