Episode 15: Not Covering

Red and black painting of a face (Episode 15 of The Painting Experience Podcast: Not Covering)

In this episode, Stewart Cubley talks about how not covering what you paint can help you find the satisfaction of accepting what shows up in your process painting -- and following it through to the end.

An excerpt from Not Covering . . .

In the last podcast, I spoke about not commenting on each others’ paintings in the painting workshops. Today I'd like to talk about “not covering” -- not changing the painting. At first blush this may feel like there's a lot of “nots” here. What are all these “nots” – don’t do this and don’t do that. What does this have to do with creative freedom and painting for process? But these “nots” are actually big yeses: they’re yeses to the process of painting, the serendipity of painting, and the unexpected nature of painting.

Let me explain what covering is. It often occurs at a certain point in the painting when you’re painting along and some area of the painting is disturbing you a little bit. You feel like you don’t want that, like there’s something not right. And our first impulse is to cover it up, change it, get rid of it, redo it -- do something that's going to make it better. This is very natural, but if we look a little deeper we realize that there's another way to respond.

It's very natural to want to make the painting look better. That's our first response, and it comes out of the more habitual way of approaching painting and art. That's more of a fine arts perspective -- a product oriented perspective -- so of course we want a nice painting. We want it to look good. We want it to please us and somehow we want it to fulfill our intention. When the painting isn’t going in that direction, it feels natural to cover something up and redo it. But from the perspective of process arts, which is about using the tool of painting not for product but for self-exploration, we need a different approach. Because that which appears does not please us has shown up. After all, we painted it. It’s not something extraneous that's imposed itself on our world. So the real question is whether we respect that. Do we get intrigued by what’s appeared and learn to read our disturbance in a different way?

Listen to learn more!