Today I learned more about painting than I have probably over the past two years. Two years ago I attended a workshop by Anne Blair Brown with the purpose in mind to learn to paint more simply and thereby more emotionally. I've mentioned my work in Bill Worcester's class this fall toward the same end.
You can talk about something 'til you're blue in the face - it's when it takes root and comes out in your work that it becomes exciting, important and real. The top painting in my last post, I mentioned, just did not sit well with me - I could go through a dozen reasons and examples - but the plain fact of the matter is that the painting was overworked and overthought. It took me approximately three hours of tweaking and trying this and that to get it to the point we last saw it, Ultimately it became what we affectionately refer to as a "wiper" or a "Frisbee".
I sat for several hours looking at it and at my reference and it just all of sudden dawned on me how I had strayed from my number one maxim: No perfect painting without a perfect underlying abstract. So I set up another canvas and mixed four color puddles using my chromatic grey as a base: 1. A touch of chromatic grey plus ivory black plus permanent green for the very darks. 2. One chromatic grey puddle split into two camps: one toned with green, one toned with violet for the left and right mid-tones 3. Permanent green split into two camps: tinted with yellow ochre and naples and toned with ultramarine and chromatic grey. 4. White toned with a touch of the chromatic grey and cobalt blue for the building. Each color puddle represents one shape and the chromatic grey presents a great deal of unity among the variations.
I broke the composition into basically three nameless shapes (for the purposes of explanation though, they were 1. structure 2. lawn 3. everything not-structure and not-lawn - subdivided left and right). I blocked them in and hit them with a blender brush to soften the edges. From there I used a blunt scrubbing brush to remove highlights from the shadow areas. I hit them with a bit of cerulean and violet mixed with white. I added some yellows and sky holes to the trees, put in the violet drive in the foreground and dabbed tints and tones where absolutely necessary. The result - about an hour and a painting that truly reflects the feeling I was after - a summer farm sideyard. No laundry on the line, no chickens, no leaves or branches or art marks - just shapes that hint at detail.
I often ask my classes, "What is more sexy? Total nudity or hints at?" The answer is always "hints at". When you explain everything to someone - or bludgeon them with detail, they don't get to use their own mind, imagination or feelings.
How hard it is to internalize the lessons we've come to teach for years - the things we know we should be doing - and to apply them to our own work!
This site is both the chronicle of my recent sabbatical - the theme of which was "a sense of place" and my ongoing work in life after sabbatical. I try to share thoughts and insights about my work and the practice of painting that others will find useful and applicable to their own work. I hope you enjoy your visit!