One year ago, I started a weekly food painting initiative. Every Monday for the past year, I have created small, 4" x 4" oil paintings. I call these my Wabi-Sabi paintings, after the Japanese word meaning the beauty of all things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
I originally started this because I wanted to try to paint faster and looser. When I'm working on client projects, I don't often have the time to mess around with different techniques. I thought this would give me a chance to play around and experiment with my oil paints.
My illustrations involve a lot of prep work to carefully plan out each piece. I normally gather a variety of references to help inform my paintings. But with my Wabi-Sabi paintings, I didn't want to have any prep work. First thing every Monday morning, I would set up a small object on a pedestal and start painting it directly from life.
The immediacy of creating an entire painting in an hour has become such a rewarding practice for me. The time limit forces me to work faster and much more efficiently than I normally do. I have to look at my object, translate what colors I'm seeing, and then mix them on the spot. I don't have enough time to sit around and fiddle with brush stokes or blending every edge. These paintings have become about training my brain to interpret the world much faster and figuring out how to put it down in as few strokes as possible.
This process has also benefited me in so many other ways than what I originally expected. I didn't realize how much I would really dive into the process of experimentation. I found myself testing different methods for preparing my boards, using different thinning agents, and even using different brushes. Through these short, weekly experiments I've really changed and improved how I'm able to use and manipulate the paints.
Now that a year has passed, 61 paintings still doesn't feel like nearly enough. This is just the end of Year 1 or my Wabi-Sabi painting series. Next week I get to start Year 2 and who knows what kinds of foods will be in my future.
If you would like to support my self exploration project, all of my original Wabi-Sabi paintings are for sale in my Etsy Shop. Grab them while they're still available! Every sale helps support me and my business and is greatly appreciated. As a special anniversary thank you, use coupon code ONEYEAR, to get 20% off each original Wabi-Sabi painting you purchase. Valid through August 12th. Read More