Question: Going beyond representational figure painting to achieve a personal view. How much does your process, including the layering playing into that?
Since I began working this way several years ago, I can safely say now that
my process is one third of the equation. It starts with the initial inspiration,
be it the model or the composition, and continues with my response to her.
Then the true dialogue begins with the actual paint; building upon this
structural start and surrendering to it in many ways. ‘Surrender’ being a
place of discernment, of active looking in present time, instead of future
hoped for result. It takes a fair amount of courage.
The layers have taken on the role of referencing life, in a way. Each one has something different to add to the whole, just as life has many experiences
that make us who we are. I have learned to respect each layer of painting to do just that, contributing something to the depth of the piece, primarily because of the element of time inherent in each layer.
When I work alla prima, the focus is about speed, accuracy and putting my foundational experience to use. This too is valuable. However, combining those skills with a multi-layered piece brings a new awareness for me, a greater focus than I ever thought possible. It gives me time to become objective. To see the marks as an integral part of the process, yet separate from my mind’s control. There is time to turn the piece this way and that. To pick up a new tool and manipulate a mark. Time to step away, come back with fresh eyes and perhaps reinvent its course.
This process is far from linear. Each layer can look completely different
from the previous, completely different from my starting point. The image
often comes and goes. The environment is undefined. I will often spend
hours building the likeness, only to destroy it at another stage because it
seems contrived and too controlled. Often times, I don’t know what I am
doing, thinking I should have become someone’s terrible secretary instead.
Those moments of doubt are always there. Something I never expected after
all these years of painting, but I’ve learned to appreciate them. I’ve learned
to trust them to take me further along a new more interesting road. One not
necessarily based on experience.
Emotions become encrusted in each painting and I can’t help but think they
need to be. How do I remove them after all? Humans are emotional. If one
day I am pissed off at how it’s going and slash my way around the canvas,
why not keep that and have it be the starting point on a new day, where
perhaps the anger has dissipated into compassion?
It can be a very personal experience, at its best. 20 people can paint the same model, take up the same tools, methods, colors, even words to describe
what is unfolding…and yet- if they are true to themselves first- they will all be
This is the beauty of all art really. Working indirectly simply allows us the
time to change more often in a single piece. To allow our human touch to
tangibly transform our vision to more than we ever expected it to. If we let
Here’s a short film about Stanka’s process.
Stanka Kordic ©2016
Visit Stanka’s website to see more of her captivating work.