I don't always know what to paint. Sometimes I have too many ideas, too many paintings I want to paint, and it's hard to know where to even begin. Today, as most days, the world came at me in one stunning visual moment after another. It can be overwhelming.
But I wanted to paint something today in order to recover from Sunday when I spent most of the entire day pushing paint around a little piece of matte board. After hours of smearing, scraping, cursing and thinking somehow something magical would eventually appear in the paint, I had made nothing more than a mess. Alas, it was dead, and there was no reviving it. Physically, mentally exhausting and frustrating as hell.
Sometimes the starting can be helped by taking inspiration from other paintings I love. Today, not knowing where to begin, I started searching for the deep magenta orange color that I've seen so often in some of my favorite local painters' landscapes. I see this color on the horizon most days when I'm driving home from work. Breathtaking. I mixed some color as best I could and laid a line of it down across the middle of the battered matte board and moved along from there.
Taking inspiration and trying to make a painting after others' work is great exercise if it can help lead you to finding your own path.