Planely Scattered

“Planely Scattered”
watercolor 30 x 22 inches

The title today relates to what my life is like at the moment: Lots of different things going on, very little of it to do with painting.

Scattered, for sure. Distracted, yes, but my thoughts, dreams and actions all are centered around moving pigment in a related way to cause a viewer to entangle him or herself in a visual conversation with a painting.
Decidedly, a painted appeals to us on very deep, often unidentifiable levels. Questions like, Why do I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach when I look at this? Or, What is it that makes me want to touch this painting? Why doesn’t this look like a ‘regular’ watercolor? This piece makes me relax. Why am I so curiously inspecting every inch of this painting?
These should be questions that us painters should be able to answer easily and create the visual stimuli necessary to ensnare them. We are the creators of the work, we should be able to steer the viewer to feeling something.
Often, in lectures to those who will listen, the ideas of what makes a ‘good’ painting are openly discussed and argued. There are three things by category, but those three things involve volumes of explanation. They are “”Content”” . . . .that which arouses our feelings and sensibilities, or a story . . . . .””Design”” . . . .The relationships between the marks on the canvas and/or paper, or how all the painting parts fit together . . . .and “”Technique”” . . . .how the paint is applied and is technique in concert with Design and Content. They are all inter-related in one way or another. That is, the technique and design must support the content. However, if the content is extremely strong, and the design equally as strong, technique can often take a back seat . . . or not be as important as the other two areas.
I am often asked what is necessary to be accepted into juried shows. These three items must be in concert to win that admittance. It may seem daunting to the novice painter, but the study of these aspects of making art is what this journey is all about. It really is much more complicated than just making a pretty picture. To grow and to learn about ourself and all that we can do with art is a high calling. It is a step into our higher self.
Not that there is anything wrong with ‘pretty pictures,’ mind you, but how many millions of them are out there? To put one’s self onto the track of learning all the above aspects about making art is to put our minds to the purpose of being our highest self. I would say that is worthwhile, wouldn’t you?

13 thoughts on “Planely Scattered”

  1. Mike,

    You must hear this all the time Nice Work!!! How do you begin and abstract like this are you doing sketching or mapping it out in someway could you explain your process??

    Sorry about the deleted post :0)

  2. It's really great to hear someone put out there plainly for most every painter, but especially for the beginner, how the elements of a good painting must have a harmonious interaction between the composition (design), subject (content), and technique. It was so often an overlooked part of art programs when I was attending school and had to learn it myself through lots of trial and LOTS of errors. It's so basic, so important to know. Thanks for sharing it so simplistically and by the way, nice painting Mr Bailey!

  3. Really nice Mike, I wish I could do these well thought out and structured abstract paintings. This is harder for me to reach a point where I like what I've done. Yours are alway so well structured with interesting shapes and satisfyingly completed.

  4. Paul . .it usually begins with thumbnail value sketch. The large white shape in a medium value field is the beginning. I may have several alternates of where to place the darkest value shapes.

    Most of time spent in painting is glazing and developing textures. As this happens suggestions of shapes appear. Those are developed into flat shapes.

    Believe me, these non objective paintings usually take weeks or months with a LOT of just plain thinking between paint applications.

  5. Tonya . . .you CAN do them. It just takes careful thought about the overall design and constant evaluation of how each part affects the rest.

    Thanks so much for your nice comment.

  6. Mike,

    Thanks for the answer that helps. I was wondering would you still happen to have the sketch(s) to see the beginning stage and how this develops into what you have here?

    You and Mark Mehaffey have this visaul interplay in your work(s) I find captivating I try stuff like this and miss the target by about 180 degrees.

    P.S. Should I keep posting my questions here like this, do you mind??

  7. Paul . . .Glad to see you are a fan of my buddy, Mark M. He is a great guy and a terrific artist.

    As for posting questions, be my guest! This blog is exactly for that . . . sharing knowledge. I only hope I can be right on top of it.


  8. Okay, Thanks Mike:0)!

    The sketch? you choose a white or black shape that helps or encourages the eyes to travel thru the painting? How do you introduce a shape that just does not become a path the eye enters into and travel's thru and leaves the painting? Are you thinking in your sketch about center of interest or is it slowly decided as your painting and glazing your colors?? and it slowly develops?

    Thanks again Mike.


    P.s.Picasso is a cool looking dog.

  9. It is a matter of carefully transitioning values, so there is reduced contrast until the focal point is reached. As you already know, from seeing your work, Paul, everything is relative to its surroundings. A "light valued shape" could well be a dark shape if it is surrounded by significantly lighter value. By modifying both the surrounding values and the edge values of a light shape, one can control the path of the eye and step it to the exact point of interest.

    I will post a blog article about this . . .I can put a photo or two there which will help illustrate my point.

  10. Wonderful painting, Mike!

    Great contrasts in hard/soft, line/curvilinear, color, texture.

    Nice ways of leading the eye toward the Center of Interest.

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