Fly on the wall

tumblr_mbkj9b5sb91re9nnzo1_500 Jordan Casteel (ASC class of 2011) invites you to share the process of the MFA experience via her blog: Jordan Casteel: my time at the Yale School of Art:


The Beginning of Many Firsts

I have encountered many “first’s” while making my first painting here at Yale. In doing this painting, I really wanted to try to force myself to slow down. This was a difficult task for me because, traditionally, I have made my paintings very quickly — focusing on the quick creation of colors and mark making. This painting was originally horizontal, with an image of my older brother and his two sons. As I was working on that original piece, something did not feel right. It could have been my composition, it could have been the pressures of doing my first painting while at Yale. But, either way, it felt wrong, and I needed to let it go. So, I scrapped the paint off of the canvas in order to try again. I have NEVER done that before. Typically, I finish a painting regardless of how I feel about it.

Making the decision to scrape the paint off, was one of the best choices I could have made. It allowed me to release any attachment I had to the previous piece and really focus on creating a different composition that felt better. So, after scraping, I flipped the canvas and began to draw an image of me, my twin brother, and grandmother. My first version of the drawing had my brothers foot hanging off of the canvas. I knew that this simple mistake in placement would cost me — and so again for the first time ever, I re-drew the piece all together. This time, I slid the painting over about 3 inches and outlined it in blue (by that point, there were so many lines on my canvas, I was starting to get confused myself).

Once I had what I thought felt right, I started the process of adding color. Initially I was doing chunks at a time, then after looking at other artists work, and having conversations with friends, I moved into trying to work the entire canvas at once—this meant moving across the painting with the colors to create a more unified appeal. After layers and layers of paint, and a constant process of correcting and re-correcting (it is amazing how much better the painting got once I put on my glasses and put the original image in my hand as opposed to on the wall). Now, I am finally feeling pretty okay about the painting. I enjoy the composition much more than before and I feel like the sentiment is much more present. It is the background that still poses a challenge for me. However, I have decided to start a new really small painting (did I mention that the grams painting is HUGE! — about 6’ x 8’— the biggest I’ve ever done!). The new painting is about 12” x 18” and an image of my nephew swimming in a pool.

Overall, I recognize that my time here at Yale is going to be full of many first — and that is very exciting. Not every painting will be a successful one, but, each painting will teach me something and contribute to my overall growth.