What’s the difference between experimentation and explorations in paint? We use the words interchangeably as I said in my last post about whether artists should experiment. I find myself doing this too, even though they aren’t the same. There’s another question about the difference between the two: Does it really matter?

I think it does.

I think we should be doing both – and here’s why.

To experiment, we must have a basic idea of what the outcome might be. What we then do is test the outcome to see if matches what we expected it to be. The classic example is experimenting with a new paint colour. The label and our understanding of the colour itself tell us what sort of results we are likely to get. Our experimenting shows us the variations possible, and create the kinetic memory of the method we use.

The adventures of explorations in paint

Explorations in paint (or any other art material) are different in that we don’t know where they will end up. They are the equivalent of a gentle meander or an exhilarating dash. We start with an idea – or just by making a mark on paper – and we just follow our intuition, one move at a time.

Admittedly, sometimes we just end up with a mess of marks on paper. But even then, I would encourage you to look carefully at small areas and see what emerges. This is where little surprises happen: the insights created by the magic of intuitive exploration.

Making collage papers with ink and acrylic

Here’s an exploration session I filmed recently. It’s a bit of a ramble along a route which takes me from acrylic paint, through Quink and Indian ink.

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