Comments on the process of creating a painting

by Gene Gould


People have painted since there have been people. Painting materials have changed, but the process of creating a physical representation of the things that people see, have seen, or want to see, has persisted.

Although I also paint from real life whenever I can, many of the paintings that I make are derived from images that I have either seen or dreamt. The way the bits and pieces of the images are applied and organized on the canvas is done in the manner that seems best to me as I explore my ideas, and as the painting develops.

Every successful painting acquires an identity of its own, hopefully at a very early stage. My efforts from that point forward are involved with refining the colors and placements that contribute to this emerging "presence". I add elements that increase the presence of the painting, and I remove elements that detract. One must be very humble during this process because the magic can be lost very quickly, usually by painting too poorly, but sometimes by painting too well. Renoir is a great example of using the methods that fit the subject. Although he was an excellent draftsman, his most successful paintings were created using fuzzy lines and marks that look like they were made with crayons. Yet, in these seemingly unsophisticated paintings, the images have a life and presence that photo-realistic art does not convey. Understanding which colors belong, and which ones don't, is not easy, and only occurs through diligent, concerted examination of the emerging personality of the painting.

Some paintings flash into existence and then die away no matter how hard you try to save them. Others proceed smoothly and directly to completion. Recently, I have been taking photos of some of the paintings as they developed. You can find examples  for Angel in Red and Alexander the Great. As I watch those pictures in retrospect, I can see some paintings coming alive and then dying, or taking on a new form entirely. Sometimes, when I look at the pictures, I wish I had stopped at some of the stages. I suppose I could copy that stage and proceed from there. Is that an idea? Multiple forks taken?

It is vitally important to paint honestly, keeping the integrity of the painting as a whole constantly in mind. Then, if all goes well, you can finish that painting and begin another one. A new one is started because painting is an adventure in its creation as well as in its appreciation. It is an adventure that I have enjoyed as a painter and as a viewer for many years and, I hope, for many more to come.

Gene Gould      


Click below to witness the process followed by Gene Gould when creating some of his paintings:

Sequential stages of the creation of "Angel in Red"   




Sequential stages of the creation of "Alexander the Great"