Check out this great peek into the creative mind of Mel McCuddin on youtube. He's an artist who works by putting down a random underpainting and then finding images to paint within that. Nothing is pre-planned. The images instead appear on the canvas to him.
This idea of finding images in what we paint is so magical to me. It is a process like dreams. I don't know where my dreams come from... except I know somehow they come from me. But they can also feel like they come from somewhere else... the subconscious, the divine, I don't know.
Most of the time I paint by creating a first layer- fingerpainting, dripping paint, making marks, making layers of paint... and then looking, and looking and looking to find who or what is in there wanting and waiting to be painted. I turn the canvas, look at it at different times of day, look at it in different places in the house and then...something will eventually appear. And it is always surprising to me.
I find this a wonderful way to paint. I think our brains are hard wired to find meaning and make sense of things and to create order from chaos. Perhaps our brains are also hard wired to find faces. I hardly ever start out to paint a face- but faces are what often appear on the canvas. The more I exercise this part of my brain the easier this activity becomes. Here are a few before and after photos of some surprising appearances.
This is a very surprising meditating man wearing a cool hat:
From this piece a horse leapt out.
This moose shape also surprised me.
And he became the celestial moose, floating about the sky with the moons and planets.
I just never know what might pop out of my paintings and that's what makes it all so curious and interesting.