Mermaid Tears | My Process

Today I want to share a little bit about my process.  I’m a self-taught artist, so the techniques I use are all made up or accidental.  It’s a very free way to make art, no pressure. I don’t know the “right” way to do something, so I can’t do it the “wrong” way either.  I’m not a big fan of perfection in any part of my life.  Imperfection reveals character and interest, this is true of people, trees, and ART.

This painting is called Mermaid Tears.  It’s 50 x 40cms and painted on an E&T Canvasses canvas (they are fantastic quality and very well priced).  Read below the image for more about my process.

I work with acrylic paint, a very forgiving and changeable medium that suits me.  I like its fast drying aspect. I start my work with paint, various colours, either what’s already on my pallet or a colour I’m feeling particularly attracted to at that moment.  The start of a painting is loose and free.  The point is just to cover the white on the canvas, and play around with the colour.  I like to mess around with my hands, chopsticks, brushes, trowels and a piece of cloth.  I give the painting a break to allow the paint to dry, or sometimes just mix the colours on the canvas.

Mermaid Tears progress of artwork by Tracy Algar

At this point I often see something in the painting that informs the direction that the painting takes.  Sometimes a shape of someone, something… at other times it’s a feeling, rather than a seeing, that there is face there that would like to be teased out of the colour and form on the canvas.

I use charcoal oil pencil, pastel or ink to form lines around the shape I’ve seen or the face that wishes to be revealed.  Eyes peer out at me and ask to be drawn or painted onto the canvas.  Sometimes I see the  shadow of an ear, or a tail, or see some legs or wings that form the starting point of a figure in the painting.

From there on it’s a process off adding and subtracting from the painting with paint and the other media I use.  During this part I try not to think about the painting, but rather to pour feeling into with colour and line and symbols that feel appropriate to the story revealing itself.

I decide when a painting is finished when I like it, that is generally when the energetic balance of the painting feels right.  If there’s a part of the painting that doesn’t feel right, I paint over it.  If I like a tiny corner of what I’ve done, I keep that and paint over the rest.  Sometimes that means working on the same piece for years (I still haven’t finished the first painting I started in December 2012), but in the case of this painting, it was finished over the period of a few weeks.

I usually work on 10-15 paintings at a time, rotating through them and spending as long as I feel I want to on each one.  Sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 1/2 an hour, eventually I finish them all (except that one I mentioned earlier – still working on it).

Here’s a full size shot of Mermaid Tears.  It is for sale, contact me if you are interested in it.  I will be at Hermanus Art In The Park this Sunday, 6th of September 2015 11am-3pm  with this painting as well as some other new work. Stop by if you are in the area.  There are a number of good food stalls, music, tables with shade and lots of art to look at and interesting people to meet.

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