A Day in The Life: documenting the creative process

An artists diary – inside the studio of Brandy Saturley

At the end of the work day, I take whatever paint I have left on my palette and I use it to make a small abstract painting on a torn out page of high-gloss magazine paper. I think I began this ritual about five years ago. I found that it gave me a time at the end of the day to break concentration and freely create something loose and immediate, a mental stretch of sorts to end a day of highly concentrated painting. Instead of scraping the paint off my palette and saving it, something that is very hard to do with acrylic paints, the leftover paint was helping to birth a new creation. Each page has come to represent a ‘day in the life’ of a painting, a painting diary of sorts. These 8×10 abstract paintings were forming a diary and a dialogue about working as a painter. Over the years I have saved thousands of these pages, most survived, not all as some became stuck to one another and i was unable to save them, and some I cut into shapes that I am certain will be used in future paintings, perhaps paintings with collage elements worked into the composition. A painting diary is a wonderful thing, it offers a record of my palette over the past few years, painting swatches if you will, a journal of colours.

From Vincent Van Gogh to Georgia O’ Keeffe, keeping a diary, or journal,  has always been a crucial part of the artist’s life. For some, it helps formulate a better conceptual understanding of works created through sometimes intuitive processes. For others, it can be a reference for future art making. Whether a detailed written journal like that of Van Gogh, or a more visual diary of sketches, studies and even colour swatches, journals are a necessary part of the creative process and provide fuel for future discovery.

I recently gathered most of my ‘abstract palette pages’ and arranged them for a photo shoot in my studio. I spread the pages from floor to ceiling, running up my studio walls, integrating them with paintings in progress, the result is a vivid and energetic environment. How I imagine the inside of my mind looks at any given time. These photos show a glimpse inside my creative process, which heavily relies on intuition these days. A peek inside the artists’ process. 

The Artists’ Diary – in the studio of Brandy Saturley

Behind the scenes – in the studio of Brandy Saturley

Photo Shoot – in the studio of Brandy Saturley – image courtesy the artist

Photo Shoot – in the studio of Brandy Saturley – image courtesy the artist

Photo Shoot – in the studio of Brandy Saturley – image courtesy the artist








I See Colour – developing my signature style as an artist, through intuition

I love colour and colour has become part of my signature style as an artist. I love vivid, bright and uninhibited splashes of colour. I love blending colours on my palette and right on the canvas. I like building layers of colour painted in thin glazes to achieve depth and harness light. Vivid colour, particularly Naphthol Red and Ultramarine blue,

Day 1: laying down the blueprint, sketching in raw umber on canvas

have become signatures of my work over the past couple decades. Colour alters the emotion of a piece and sets the mood, but I didn’t always love colour.

From the time I was a teenager to the time I entered college my comfort zone and frame of mind were black and white. All I did was draw portraits and still life in pencil, in sketchbooks of white Canson paper and lined notebooks. I loved playing with light and shadow, shading and depth, I was creating blueprints and gaining experience that would later serve me well in Art School.

Day 2: laying down the underpainting

For me the transition came in Art School and specifically in two classes; painting and graphic design. Graphic design taught me about the colour wheel and colour theory, a practical guide about colour mixing and the visual effects of specific colour combinations. Once my hands grasped those tubes of paint, squeezing pure vivid colour out onto a multitude of surfaces, I never wanted to go back, colour had me and I had colour.

So, when asked why I paint with such a vivid and saturated palette my response is, why not? It feels good, it feels happy, it fills me with joy and allows me to splash my emotions onto the canvas. For the past five years I painted with a very restricted palette of mostly my Naphthol Red and Ultramarine blue with the odd dash of Indian yellow for contrast. With this new body of work, and my more intuitive relationship with the influences of my Canadian travels, I am finding myself returning to the full spectrum of vivid colours that I began using in Art College. My technique is honed , I am in the groove and creating a distinct language that is becoming less representational and more symbolic. My work is becoming less about narrative and more about feeling. I am creating a new language that is all my own and I am letting my intuition lead. My artist instincts have become honed to a point that I feel confident in letting them lead. This is not to say I have no plan, and I do begin with a blueprint for any painting, like I learned to when I was a teenager in high school art class. I do study a subject deeply and formulate numerous possibilities, but what controls my final decisions before I apply paint to canvas, is my ‘gut instinct’ or intuition.

Day 3: Colour blocking and laying down glazes, layers of colour

Both Eastern and Western philosophers have studied the concept of intuition in detail. Recently, Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, spoke with Forbes about intuition, suggesting it is the highest form of intelligence. A recent documentary film on Netflix explored the topic of intuition. “The ancient Icelandic word for intuition is “innsæi,” but in Iceland it has multiple meanings. It can mean “the sea within” which is the borderless nature of our inner world, a constantly moving world of vision, feelings and imagination beyond words. It can mean “to see within” which means to know yourself…”

I like this, ‘the sea within’ and to ‘see within’. As my exploration continues and the new works are created I am excited at where this is heading. I seem to be experiencing that ‘full circle’ feeling as I return to my full spectrum vivid colour palette. These photos are a ‘sneak peek of a piece I have been working on for 3 days now, to view the other four paintings in this intuitive series of symbolic landscapes, see my new work here.

Day 4: laying down more colour glazes, blending, and defining edges