Five Easy Steps

Winter Trail, 20x24, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



Some of you know that in addition to painting, I also write short stories. In the past couple of months, I've felt a bit blocked and I decided to take a five-day online class to get the words and sentences flowing again. In this excellent course, aspiring writers are nudged to write a short story each day, taking various approaches. Each suggested approach consists of a few well-defined steps.

This reminded me of the value of "steps" in the creative process in general. The internet is inundated with articles of the type "Five Easy Steps to <fill in the blank>." There is a good reason for their popularity - they are easy to grasp and they incite action. 

The notion relies on two premises:

1. Creativity is a process rather than a product.

2. We can accomplish many things we didn't know we could if we break up the activity into a few well-explained steps.


I found this helpful because, when things get muddled, blocked, or just plain scary, it's because I've been obsessing about what I want to create, rather than focusing on how to do it. Every once in a while, I somehow manage to forget that for me, the best part of creativity is the "how" - working out the steps. What do I want to do first, second, third, etcetera? Steadily taking those steps and watching the magic unfold on the canvas is what gives me joy.

There must be a million ways to make a painting, and for years, my intention has been to learn, try, and hopefully invent, as many of them as I can.

Here is an example. You can use it to paint a landscape, a portrait, a still life, or an abstract. Take your pick what you want to paint, but consider these five steps:

1. Cover the canvas with a cadmium yellow imprimatura mixed with a lot of medium, and wipe off some of it with a rag.

2. Use the largest palette knife you have to block in dark shapes with dioxazine purple color.

3. Switch to a large flat brush and block in the medium-value shapes using red oxide, cerulean blue, and medium neutral gray.

4. Get a medium-size filbert brush and add lights using titanium buff and pale pink.

5. Add some caligraphy marks with a rigger brush, a chopstick, and the tip of a nail.


I totally made this up. Still, don't you feel like going through these steps just to see what would turn out?  I do. There's something about steps that's hard to resist.

So, make up your own five steps and dive in. Try something you don't usually do. Have fun!

If you'd like to share, send me an email, or respond to this post, or post it on the Facebook. I'd love to see something fun and creative.

Happy painting!

Tatjana