Thursday, February 16, 2012

the mess continued

The second and third stage of the Mineral Point painting are here. Since I am quite a bit further on with the painting than these images, I actually feel quite good about it. Mr. Hall, responding to a student's question about their feelings about their own work, said "You'll always feel about your art just the way you feel right now." And he was correct. No matter how accomplished you become, you still see flaws or have trouble painting certain things. Don't get all emotionally bent out of shape about it. So about this painting.... some days I like it and some days I don't, but when you are dedicated to painting you just step up to it with your brush in hand and carry on and you will soon forget that you didn't feel like painting or had any problem with it. Walk away for a while, even several days if you have to. I had started working the sky and then what's in front of it -- working from the back to the front. It's hard to get the type of edges in a tree unless the sky behind it is still wet. I've had to repaint the sky on some of my paintings just because that. I had been called away from my painting to do something else and by the time I returned to it the paint had dried. Just paint over it and carry on. This is what is so great about oil (and not great about acrylics) -- it stays wet for several days and you can work into it like it's still fresh on the first day. As I said, I'm quite a bit further on, but as I work on the background I am constantly working a wash or a few strokes into what I am going to paint next -- the foreground.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Start with a mess..."

When I was an art student in the oil painting class, my instructor, Eugene Hall came up with a number of really good and/or oddball quotes. One of them was: "Start with a mess, it can only get better". I was traveling in southwestern Wisconsin to the town of Mineral Point, a town that has a good number of artisans -- artists, woodworkers and potters. The small photo you see clipped to the right side of the canvas was taken in the morning one day. Most of the days I was there were cold and dark, but this was a sunny morning. Since I had stretched two 36" X 48" canvases at the same time and finished painting one of them, I have been waiting for a subject to carry on with the next canvas.
I like to get information onto the canvas quickly and so wielding a large brush I began to block in areas of darks and some shapes to help locate things. So you see the result of starting with a mess. I even begin paintings that become quite accurately drawn later this way. I just don't like forcing myself into a "paint by number" scenario where you feel compelled to color in your drawing --- that's not painting. In case you find yourself lost here, the foreground is snow and grassy plants making their way uphill with a high hill on the left and a far away backgound to the center right. I've never followed a painting from start to finish taking pictures along the way, but I am going to try. I am going to try my best to do the kind of job I want on this painting or else this will get painted over, or possibly destroyed if I don't like it when it's finished. Talk about pressure.... Anyhow, starting with a mess allows you to come about the painting slowly and find new things. Today I found a circular path of darks which I intend to use as a compositional device. If I thought I had an audience, I would write Eugene Hall's biography. He was an outstanding teacher and an even better person.