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What's Your Preference?

Everybody has preferences when it comes to even the slightest choices. One person prefers comedy and another drama. One likes sweet and another savory, or hardback over ebooks, or rock over classical, etc. I have my own list:

Chocolate over fruit • hardback over Kindle • classical over country • on the rocks over frozen (margarita wise) • linen over just about anything • coffee over tea • salad over soup • I could go on....

Lately, working in my studio, I have developed a preference for painting on paper instead of wood panels, which is something that surprised me. Paper seemed so flimsy and temporary at first, and wood panels on the easel felt so substantial, more permanent. But when it comes to creating, to experimenting, to untaping the buggers when I think I might be finished, paper seems to provide more satisfaction.

I use Arches oil paper that comes in a 12 x 16 pad, and I cut it to standard frame sizes. I tape the edges (about 1/4 inch around) to scrap board I have accumulated, and I get to work. Sometimes I scribble a line of poetry with an oil pastel, and I might smudge here and there with an oil stick. After a few layers of base colors, some spraying with mineral spirits, scraping with sticks and knives, pressing in with linen or wrinkled paper or what have you, those initial marks might peek out. Sometimes they don't. And eventually I have a painting that speaks to me in some way.

Can I do the same thing on a wood panel? Of course I can. But for some unknown reason—and I don't even need to know why—paper, just lately, is my preference. It's as inexplicable as choosing chocolate over raisins in your cookies, and just as personal. Although, honestly, why would anyone choose raisins?

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