Art and Discipline

In the great artist you see daring bound by discipline and discipline stretched by daring. (Robert Brault)

All too often, when people consider how art is created, dreamy images come to mind…images of the enlightened artist, enslaved by true and impassioned creativity, armed with loaded and perfectly-hued brushes gliding effortlessly over a blank canvas, and finishing with a decisive final flourish!

Well, sometimes it does feel like that. But, not from start to finish. Just before I begin a new painting, I am most excited. Brimming with raw and spontaneous creativity, I feel empowered by the strong sense of unconstrained natural ability that comes with inspiration. Then, at this point, I have to pause and take a few cautious and disciplined steps back to consider my plan.

Make a Plan!

Yes, a PLAN. Starting and completing a painting without a proper plan is a surefire way to end up with a scrambled and meaningless mess. Those of you who are guilty of the same know exactly what this looks and feels like. You often end up with a painting awash in confused colour, flawed composition and poor concept!

Proper planning and controlled discipline is truly essential to the success of a painting. This is truer still when doing a commission piece. Broadly stated, listed below are the main phases I go through in order to end up with what I consider to be a successful commission/painting.

Toward Successful Completion:


The first phase: The most important step, for me, when I begin a painting is what I call my conceptualization stage. I usually spend two full weeks on conceptualization. During this time, I research carefully all the concepts I will likely use to design the painting. I work closely with my clients during this stage. I ask the right questions, and obtain a lot of answers. Images and ideas spark and form. I thread it all together and produce a thumbnail which the client approves, and which I then proceed to work from to complete the painting.


The next phase is paint, paint, paint! With the plan pretty much laid out, I proceed to paint fervently. Because painting begets painting. It also helps at this stage to constantly visualize the image as I see it at the end. This is really important for me to keep on the straight and narrow and not get swept away in all the excitement… but, where is all that blind creativity you ask?

Creative Infusion:

Well, herein lays the challenge. In every phase of my painting process, from beginning to end, I must guide my eager-to-be-free creative energy to take its persuasive hold wherever necessary…allowing it to weave itself gently into the painting, lending an inspired hand at just the right moments, helping me to get to the acclaimed finish.

Practice and Patience

With practice and patience, I’ve learned to harness my wild creative energy and apply it sparingly throughout the painting process, culminating in a piece that is perfectly peppered with good measures of pure inspiration and thoughtful, disciplined design.

And last, but not least, a shout-out…my endless respect and gratitude goes out to the many teachers and mentors in my life who have taught me about the absolute virtues of being patient and having an excellent plan.


Posted in Painting Process

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