Shifting Gears

Just a reminder that I’m using this blog much less now (doing a few reblogs and redirects from time to time) and am shifting my attention to a new blog Trace Elements. Come see what’s going on at the new blog, which you can find HERE.

My Cheat Sheet

Sometimes I have a little drawing off to the side while I’m painting. It’s there so that I can talk to myself, as it were. I rehearse in thought — and with actual tools — aspects of the painting that I’m going to be changing. It’s like a visual “to do” list. Sometimes I have written notes too.

I go back and forth between these alternative versions and the actual painting. The purpose is not to spare me from making mistakes. The painting is fluid. It changes. I accept that readily enough. The cheat sheet is more a matter of discharging thoughts. I have these ideas about maybe this, maybe that, and the ideas are more quickly traced through more direct tools — these being my notions of immediacy — everyone is different.

As a river has little tributaries that pour into its current, these alternative tasks are just what they are. They are part of the enjoyment of the moment.

portion of the painting roughly corresponding to the cheat sheet, detail of a landscape in progress

Versions

I have remade the meadow several times. The actual meadow changes continuously so it only makes sense that my pictures of it should also change in various ways. The same meadow has many faces. The actual meadow has so many faces that it would be impossible to record them all. The reality is so rich that it startles the mind to conceive it.

What does happen to the many faces of the meadow? Who sees them? Is there a record somewhere of all that light? All those flowers and bugs and days and hours? All the ways the wind swept the leaves in that ocean of grass?

Imagination’s travels

Some places you can only visit through art. Forests are not pink or violet. And yet sometimes one feels they ought to be. We do not love Nature any the less when we dress her up to suit our occasional fancy for color.

Dreams are occurrences of nature too. We are parts of nature also. Our imaginations arise as a force of nature.

My American Dream

My American Dream is to paint big pictures. As much as I’m able, I already do so. But I am also looking for the setting for the pictures — for the adventurous collector who wants a big koi pond for the indoors. These are not fish that you have to feed. These are fish that feed you — that feed your mind with dreams.

What sort of dreams, you ask? Dreams of swimming, dreams of water, dreams of the broad sky seen from under the water, dreams of the watery depths of feeling and imagination.

From drawing into painting, from many different sorts of drawings into paintings. The range of possibility is mesmerizing. There are so many lines, so many images. That’s the dream, I suppose.

In situ

I steal furniture. Fortunately, it’s virtual furniture so the theft gets carted away in bytes. I find rooms such as the lovely, quirky room above. Into such rooms I put my artwork so that people can get a sense of how a painting looks on a wall.

Because I love color, I particularly enjoy finding bold and cleverly colorful rooms. Finding a room as colorful as this one is a real delight. Strangely, it’s a fairly unusual occurence. It seems like most room decoration uses whites or neutral colors. Are people afraid of using bright color? I dunno. You can see how cheerful and welcoming this cozy room looks. I don’t know the identity of the designer.

The painting looks about the actual size relative to the couch. And here’s a view of the painting seen alone. Acrylic on canvas and available.

Strategies for Invention

Making small colored pencil drawings is one of the ways I get ideas for my large paintings. The painting on the easel right now is 48 x 60 inches, and it’s well under way. But figuring out the details of the painting is a problem in invention, particularly as this is not a realist painting. It won’t be finished when it “looks like” the scene because the actual scene no longer exists. However, change can be a good thing. Not being able to revisit the real place offers up a great excuse simply to paint. But even when you’re “just painting,” you still need to get your ideas from somewhere. So I use the qualities of the various media as suggestions for surface details. My aim is to make the painting into something like a giant drawing, so that it might also possess all the freedom that drawings have.

So I make many drawings. Through much drawing, the forms of the image begin to fix themselves in my memory. And the drawing media, by virtue of their own innate qualities of beauty, offer something to “imitate,” since imitation is always one component of painting.

Small colored pencil drawings, like the ones above which measure smaller than 8 x 10 inches, are one way to think about the image. Neopastel (a Caran d’Ache product) offers another method on a slightly larger scale. The following Neopastel drawings measure about 18 x 24 inches. The larger drawings are getting closer to the gesture range of the large painting.

As you can see, I have taken the image apart and once components are separated this way they really do look more and more “abstract.” It’s good to remember that the whole surface of a painting matters. Even when you’re striving to produce realism, the details are still just shapes, colors and tones. The composition is the pleasing arrangement of all these bits of the picture even when the part does not directly correspond to something we can name.

The whole painting at present looks like this:

Those flower bunches in the sky need to be connected to the plants. And there’s much tweaking available in the large expanses. Some of the development of this surface really does wend into pure invention. So there’s lots of opportunity to “push paint around” and look for beautiful surfaces.

Ideas for this kind of work can start from small simple beginnings. Making broad gestures with big shapes gets you started and can provide a wonderful meditative way of musing about possibilities.

So if you take up drawing in colored pencils, beware. You never know where it will lead. Better get a supply of large canvas just in case.

In the meantime, enjoy your mark making.

what to do, what to do

whole painting on may 23 (2)

Brainstorming

  • I can put more paint on the cloth in settled areas just to varigate the surface and to add further cover over earlier imagery
  • I can experiment with putting some of the design of the background blue curtain in it to see how the pattern would work
  • I can decide to paint over that tulip
  • I can decide to keep the tulip but join it to the bouquet
  • I can complicate the colors of the patterns in the green cloth even more just for the heck of it
  • I can continue developing the flowers, though I want to keep them painty and abstract
  • I can develop the bottom of the Limoges vase
  • I can figure out the area of cloth nearest to the Limoges vase
  • FIX the area of bouquet nearest to the vase rim — needs leaves, stems, something besides just the mass of dark green

My note to self above.

I rearranged the cloth again to get ideas.  I used crumpled craft paper to shape the mounds this time.  Got to remember that for future still lifes.

cloth rearranged further (2)

I’ve tinted the photo to have the cloth color match more closely the colors I’m using in the painting.  This is such a fabulous cloth.  One could make a wonderful painting of just the cloth.  Drapery as landscape.