Monday, November 10, 2008

Under Construction

I really didn't know where I was going with this one until I painted the background wet into wet and added the abstract trails and colors. The simple tripod of the sailor, mermaid, and waves was dry and uninspiring. I wanted energy, and I felt that I got a burst of that with abstract painting.

So far on this painting you have tight and neat brush strokes, as in the very careful formation of the waves. For the painter, painting a repeating pattern like the waves is mostly mindless. I suppose if you like knitting or quilting such activity is soothing. But when I do simple, repetitive brushwork, and careful blending of colors, there is a pressure in me that wants to burst free. The end result so far has been worth the boredom, I like to see discipline and order within a painting. But I know that I am reaching for a style that combines freedom and discipline, neat and sloppy, sense and nonsense. I wince at using the term sloppy, because no matter how quickly a stroke seems to be made often there is a moment or moments of contemplation before the brush hits the panel.

Michael saw the painting in this form and I asked him what he thought about the added abstraction. (Note, most of this painting is just an underpainting, it has far to do in terms of adding flesh tones, hair, wave foam and more detail on the abstracted background). Mike said that what I had done was to paint what it looked like underwater. He tried to make sense of the abstraction. Maybe he thought it was seaweed, or fish, or ocean currents.

As I worked on the panel today I enjoyed painting in a dual sense, both the object and the background at the same time. I added color to both the positive space, such as the sailor's head and limbs, and the negative space, the darker areas behind the object. In the past my tendency has been to paint one part and then the other separately. For example, I painted a landscape first and then the objects that were on the landscape. What I want to move toward is an allover painting strategy, where foreground and background are built up at the same time.

As I paint abstracted space my own mind does add a narrative element. I name the shapes and lines thinking to myself, "that looks like wings" or "that looks like a crown" or "that looks like a breeze is flowing through".

Got the inspiration today to make the sailor sunburned with a lot of brown pink and the mermaid pale with green hues so that the two figures are better contrasted. It too tells the story of one creature that spends its time under the sun and another creature that spends its time under the ocean.

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