Monday, January 19, 2009

Butterfly Wings

Today I painted my third pair of butterfly wings. I've got a pattern, I've got a strategy. On each pair I use a different shade of blue straight from the tube, thus, some basic variation. Shaded in serves green near the bottom, violet tint in the middle, and white. Made a pattern along all the edges with yellow dashes encased in midnight blue. The veins of the wings were ever so thin trails of ultramarine blue. Now I believe if I had to paint any more butterfly wings I would grow bored.

I look at the painting that is developing and think "stiff". One aspect of my painting is that it is very controlled. A tiny brush, lots of blending, paint pushed around where millimeters matter, the mark of precision. Once the drawing is finished there is almost no alteration in the size and shape of things, only color.

Tomorrow I paint the flesh on a little nude body that sports the pair of butterfly wings just completed today. It is the second layer of flesh and I am wondering if all three bodies in the painting need three layers of flesh paint, shaded with transparent blue, olive, red, purple and brown, highlighted in pink and yellow, to look the best. A part of me is bored to do it, thinks two layers gets the message across. But then I wonder, where will this painting go, and shouldn't it go with the best possible send off that I can give it? What if this is all there is to represent me after I'm dead?

There is a temptation to view oneself as a human assembly line machine, putting the parts together day after day. If I feel this way, is there something wrong with my creative process? In my painting there is repetition. I know I am attracted to pattern and repetition. Dad says that one artist he knows listens to books on tape while he paints repeating detail. I know I love wild spontaneity, but I also know that in a way it has to be planned for. I would be horrified to approach a blank canvass without a great deal of preparation. I can go as far as to say to myself before I start, "here I will reign it in and here I will let go." My secret hope is that the older I get, the more experienced I get, the more place there will be in my art for spontaneity.

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