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.

No comments: