Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some are easy, some are hard.

Here is a large (30"x40") painting that I have done THREE versions of and I am still struggling with it.

I love the original image, but it is complicated, especially in the areas of color, light and space. (What else is there in a painting, you may ask?) I decided to "make it easier" and used a small, child's overhead projector to create a loose outline, instead of doing it all by hand like I usually do. Unfortunately, I have found that crime (in this case the crime is the use of a aid, such as a projector) does not always pay. The painting immediately became bogged down with the immense amount of detail. A painting that is merely a collection of details is not usually a great painting. 
This is the finished image of the "Glimmer Rhythm I"

This looks pretty good, but not great, in my view. But the problems presented by this image has got its hooks into me by this time, and so I started a second version. This time I used a white background ( I usually paint on bare wood) thinking that perhaps the bright color of the horses' bridals would be more luminous. Once again, I tried to "make it easier" this time by using a transfer from the original painting. And once again, my artistic sin came back to haunt me.

The color is definitely  brighter, but the confusing space and detail still plagues me.

Here is a finished, or nearly finished version on white, "Glimmer Rhythm II"

I became frustrated and so I went back to the basics and tried to start again with a small, black and white thumbnail sketch. This is something I ought to do with every painting, its something my professors back in college taught me to do. The fact that I rarely do sketches may be attributed to my natural perverse, self-defeating nature, or "I'm only good when I have to be".

So here I go, starting with version #3, and as is the case with many of my paintings, the beginning drawing is always the funnest part. This time I do it all completely freehand. Through the drawing process, I am able to chose which details are included or dropped, and how they are expressed. And its not even all that hard.

 I laid down the color as soon as I could, trying to create large areas of value and color.

 I slowly build up the image organically. 

Here is the latest version of this painting, and I am wondering how much more energy to exert on it.

With every painting, there is a point to it, almost like a plot in a story. This image has a plot that is conflicting and doesn't seem to be gelling for me. Its about bright color and black. Its about a gathering of elements on a shallow plane, sort of like a tapestry. Its about a web of vertical and horizontal elements. Its about childhood innocence, but also childhood fears, like the scary horse face and the sulking child in white.
They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I hope that if this painting doesn't kill me, it will at least make me a better artist!


A few of my fabulous fans commented on my struggles.My friend and fellow artist Bridget Benton suggested this:
"What if this was happening at night? Somehow the black horse might look more . . . suited if that band of blue sky were black . . ."
So I tried it and it seems to be coming together more...