On Process: The How and Why / by Rebecca Stern



People often ask me about my process - how do I begin a painting, where do I get my inspiration and how do I know when to continue or when to stop. When I work, I’m not thinking about process so it’s always hard to translate into words. I purposely avoid planning my compositions beforehand as it interrupts my spontaneous creativity and inserts a judgemental voice.



I know that my first marks are my favorite. They’re free, refreshing, a release.  Done quickly from a territory deep inside me. I’ll pour, scrape, drip or use a large brush to apply the first colors to form large gestural movements that often determine the form of the painting. These marks are in control of where the painting goes, serving as a roadmap.


Then I begin to play with negative space, depth, movement, and tension. I juggle many paintings at once, leaving time between to let the works marinate. I allow my workflow to be a turn towards observation. I want to understand what each unique work is trying to say. Over time each painting takes on a life of its own and leads me in a process in which I am an active observer. This contemplative space informs the next marks, as I play with balance - pushing the viewer's eye to take a specific path through the work.


A painting is complete when there is nothing else that needs to be added. Marks left are traces of an experience, a struggle, an idea, a feeling. There’s balance between pushing, pulling and release. The viewer’s eye takes a path throughout the work and gets lost in a beautiful mess of details. The piece speaks the things that I don’t want to.



See more of my new work here.