I'm working on 5' x 5' panels, and that is a lot of geography to cover. Brushes and tools are larger, paint gets mixed in buckets instead of tiny puddles on a palette. There's a physicality about working at this size - large arm movements and stretching to reach.


This painting began with the usual stream of consciousness approach. I love shapes found in nature, and botanical forms were showing up. When you really free yourself up to paint whatever feels interesting, at some point you're bound to make marks that look ugly to you. Sometimes I cringe when I see the things I allow in my painting. 


But my goal is to "follow the energy" if that makes sense, so I try not to edit too much just yet, but rather to stay engaged in the process. It's an exhilarating time in the creation of a painting - this time when anything and everything is possible.


I do have a tendency to over-deliver. I feel pulled to fill every square inch of space with forms and marks. The funny thing is that I really love paintings that have quiet areas where one's eyes can rest. I only liked a few things about this painting at this stage of the game and I had mixed some creamy yellow paint for another project that simply delighted me. I remembered my own words to my students about willingness to take big leaps, and the next thing I knew...


In the destruction of the painting, something new was born. And I'm finding that those quiet areas are alive with subtle, but very satisfying textures and marks. It occurs to me that there may be some kind of life-lesson in there (always is). Something about making time for idleness, quiet, space. There is richness in the respite.

Susan Melrath