Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The painting that talked back

Here's the painting I was making such a fuss about in my last post, the one I said I was working on that felt so special.

It still feels special. I've been sitting with it for the past few days to see if it wanted anything else, but it doesn't seem to and so it is done. I could have added tiny details forever. It is already full of them. Probably not easy to see here, but maybe in the details below.

Much of the background color was applied with large, flat scrapers from the hardware store.
Then, relying on intuition, I found random shapes and figures in all the layers of textures and accented them with color or line.

The painting is acrylic and charcoal on paper, 40" X 40". It's not pretty. And it probably won't end up in anyone's living room. But it is totally me. Painting it was, for me, for the first time, an experience of having a true connection with what was happening. An involvement, a dialogue.

Why do I think this painting is successful? I feel that it has a cohesiveness over the whole composition. All parts are strong and equal. I'm drawn to the texture and build up of space on the surface. And I love the teeny details that draw in the viewer, inviting further exploration and discovery. I hope you get a chance to see it in person.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Two paintings, quite different

This painting is the largest I've done in this style. Acrylic and charcoal on watercolor paper, it's 40" X 40". It underwent the usual process, enduring many layers with scraping and smearing in between. I like it enough, it is my default tree motif, after all. But it falls dangerously into the category of pleasing the crowd. It represents, to me, a safe approach and one that isn't necessarily authentic. I don't want to dismiss it because I do love the layering and texture. It's just that the paintings I've worked on since completing this one have felt different. They have been offering a dialogue back as I paint them. They've been letting me get involved. 

This painting is 14" X 20", acrylic, charcoal and ink, and an example of what happens when I'm thinking less about "pleasing the crowd" and painting more authentically (or being truer to what I want the painting to look like). It is a step toward what my second 40" x 40" painting is turning out to be. I'm working on that one now and experiencing, for the first time since I started painting this way last fall, a real satisfaction that what I'm creating is really mine. It's an awesome feeling. Hard to explain. Something like having 100 children and they all seem like sweet, likable strangers. And then you have one that, when it looks back at you, you see yourself. 

So I promise to introduce you to her as soon as she tells me she's ready for the world! In the meantime, here's her not-so-distant sibling, full of intriguing details and "serious whimsy".

Friday, April 10, 2015

5 square paintings and one rectangle

The grid (from the last post) was starting to feel a little confining and even confusing. It was hard to make the composition work. And I didn't feel as though I could smear and scrape as is my wont. 

I stayed with the square, for the most part, with these studies and returned to an old inspiration for help with composition. I cut up a photo from the newspaper into 1 inch squares and used the abstract lines to give me something to work with. 
 14X14 Arcylic, charcoal and colored pencil. Painted over many, many times.

 8X8 Arcylic, charcoal and colored pencil. Many layers.

  8X8 Arcylic, charcoal and colored pencil. Many layers.

  8X8 Arcylic, charcoal and colored pencil. Many layers.

  8X8 Arcylic, charcoal and colored pencil. And again, many layers.

8X12  Arcylic and charcoal. Many paintings underneath, starting with a large, black, rather sinister looking cat behind white, climbing vines.  

2 paintings using the grid

Exploring the grid some more, continuing with the idea from two posts ago. Still working with a build up of texture. 
 14X14 acrylic, charcoal and colored pencil
12X12 acrylic, charcoal and colored pencil

Two paintings ~ The Ides of March

I forgot to show you these. I painted them on the first day of the Skip Lawrence workshop, March 15th. They are both 14X20, acrylic, charcoal, pastel and colored pencil with some added papers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Exploring (combining the old and the new)

It has been a little over a week since the Skip Lawrence workshop. It's taking a while to figure out how to take what I learned there and apply it to what I feel is mine.

The work I was doing before was fun. I liked it, but I felt it needed to go further. Working with the idea of texture in the workshop felt like the next step that was needed. So now, as an exploration, I'm staying away from my "default" landscape with trees format and thinking of depth and texture first. Then going back to my favorite imagery to add details without making the painting about that.

This painting is 14" X 20". For most of the time I was working on it I didn't know if I was going to get to where I liked it. I left it for a while and did another quick silly cat painting and when I came back to this one I did just a few more things to it and felt quite satisfied. Of course I like the texture and depth. There are many layers, the first being gesso which I scored while it was still wet with the end of a brush, so that when it dried and I painted over it and scrubbed the surface, the scored lines appeared and determined where I painted in the other details.

I'm happy with this direction. I feel more involved with the process than with the earlier work, more invested, more authentic. I have a bunch more paintings lined up with scored, textured backgrounds waiting for their surface details. I'm just going to go with these experiments and see where they lead.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Skip Lawrence Workshop Conclusion

I spent the last two days of the workshop on these two paintings. They are both 20" square. 

This first one has at least 10 paintings under it. Again, I was thinking mostly about texture, but also about creating space within the plane of the painting and being "involved" with it, if that makes any sense. My favorite quote from Skip for the week was "If you have nothing to say you'll say it". I wanted to say something. 

Like I said, I tried over and over to get this painting to work (and figure out what it wanted to say), layering one attempt over the other. At the end of the day of working on it I was frustrated and grumpy and drove the 60 miles home in a daze. On that drive, however, I was reminded that my eye is often drawn to the black spaces in walls and buildings created by windows and doors, particularly large garage or barn doors. That day at the retreat center where the workshop is being held I had picked out a small, smooth stone from a basket of giveaways at the front desk. The stone had the word "refuge" hand lettered with gold paint. The idea for this painting came to me before I got home. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I was so excited about it I could hardly sleep and got back to the workshop as soon as I could the next morning. The painting came out just as I had hoped. I like the depth, the texture, and the black shape that can be anything you want it to be, you the viewer. For me, it represents a place of refuge. The beginning of a series, maybe? 
This second painting was created without as much angst or stress as the first. The blue line is an experiment. I used slightly warmer colors. There are still many layers under the top texture, so that there is an illusion of depth within the plane of the painting. I like this one, but I think I feel more connected with the first one because of what it demanded from me.
The workshop was very good for me. Skip's insights at the beginning and guidance throughout and support at the end was so helpful for getting me going on a track that I feel is somehow more legitimate than the one I was on. I don't feel I was in a bad place before, but I do feel more focused and clear about what I want to do. I have lots of ideas for new paintings! I'll keep you posted, for sure.