On the Physicality of Painting

by Kara Ruth Snyder in Reflections



 Being Drawn to the Canvas

Encountering a blank canvas is a magnetic experience for me.   What is it that draws me to the surface and fills me with excitement for aesthetic possibilities?I usually start a large canvas by generously slopping on water with a big house painting brush.  This is a physical process and is more like scrubbing a tub than creating a “pretty picture”.  Then I apply large amounts of acrylic paint directly from tubes or jars.  I will layer colors in no particular order or for any particular reason.  I use brushes, hands, palette knives, paper towels, rags or whatever is lying around the studio.  The goal simply being  “action”.  

The Act of Painting as Meditation:  Moving from the physical to the non-physical

This physical interaction of self, paint and canvas cycles through over and over and serves  as a mantra through which I reach a meditative state.  During this period of time I go through a series of physical sensations:  a pulling towards the canvas from my chest and a restlessness in my fingertips.  Gradually, as I view and feel the movement of materials on the canvas there comes a physical relaxation.  My heart beat steadies and calmness cushions me from all sides.  This is, to me, one of the greatest joys of painting.  The act of painting cannot escape its physical nature–but it certainly cannot be reduced to it.  The physical gives way to the non-physical!
-Kara Ruth Snyder