Here are my takeaways from January.
First, I fully expected that rules boost creativity. This month I limited myself to 8 tubes of paint, although I mainly used my usual 6 (titanium white, phthalocyanine blue, ultramarine blue, primary yellow, process magenta, and dioxazine purple). Since I also decided to paint the same scene each day for a month, so I did not waste time wondering what to paint. And working within these limits, I produced an energetic and varied body of work, far more wide-ranging than if I had attempted the project without a set of rules firmly in place.
Second, I did not anticipate that this project would be about the function of human memory rather than about trees. Midway through the month I realized that I was having trouble remembering what the original scene looked like. My memory of the sunlit pine trees had been replaced by my memory of the prior 2 weeks of paintings. When I looked into a bit of brain science, I found that the more you access something from your memory, the less accurate that memory becomes. The first few days of the project my paintings are most true. But as the month continued I added details and embellished the image. And quite unintentionally, my trees began to dissolve into colorful abstraction. I am fascinated by what happened in January, and it makes me want to start another memory project to see what happens.
If this has piqued your interest in memory and painting from memory, here are a few interesting references:
Your Memory is Like the Telephone Game by Marla Paul, Northwestern University
Radiolab: Memory and Forgetting (Season 3 Episode 4)
Savvy Painter Podcast: Antrese Wood interview with Karen Kaapcke
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